Birmingham & Black Country

Christine Hemming given suspended sentence for cat theft

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Media captionChristine Hemming was filmed by CCTV cameras stealing the kitten from Emily Cox's home

The wife of a Liberal Democrat MP has been given a nine-month suspended sentence for stealing a kitten from the home of her husband's lover.

Christine Hemming, 53, whose husband John is MP for Birmingham Yardley, was found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court of burglary last month.

She was filmed on CCTV removing the kitten, called Beauty, from the Birmingham home of Emily Cox last year.

Hemming was ordered to do 150 hours of community work and pay £1,000 costs.

Image caption Beauty belonged to a four-year-old daughter the MP had with Ms Cox

The kitten, owned by the young daughter the MP had with Ms Cox, has not been found since it was filmed being removed on 29 September 2010.

Hemming, whose sentence is suspended for 12 months, has said she still cannot remember how it came to be in her possession.

She said: "I did not deliberately take the cat.

"I went to the property to give my husband his post. I had no recollection of taking the cat.

"I didn't realise I had it until I returned to the house and there it was in the back of the car."

She said she put Beauty over her garden fence and the next day took her to "within 30 metres" of Ms Cox's home, thinking the cat would find its way back.

The Hemmings met at a party conference in Bridlington and were married in 1981, but their relationship deteriorated from 2004 when details of extramarital "liaisons" involving the MP emerged, the most significant of which was with Ms Cox.

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Media captionChristine Hemming spoke to Radio 5 live before her sentencing

His wife agreed he could continue his relationship with Ms Cox provided he always returned to the family home at night.

But increasingly he spent more and more time with his mistress, who had given birth to his fourth child.

The details of their "love triangle" were the subject of intense scrutiny during the three-day trial.

Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Hemming expressed his displeasure with the whole affair.

He said: "It's not good, is it, but none of it was necessarily that good anyway.

"Obviously it's not a nice situation to be in, nobody would wish it, but that's the way it is.

"It's not good for any of my children, but on the other hand she [Mrs Hemming] had to stay out of Emily's garden."

Image caption Mr Hemming and Ms Cox were at home at the time the kitten was taken

The MP added that he did not think details of his private life would overly concern his constituents because they knew of his two relationships in 2010 when he was elected.

"A lot of people knew in 2000. But the reality about it is we move on."

Speaking to BBC News, Mr Hemming said that there may be some "positive news" about the whereabouts of Beauty.

"It might be that there might be positive news but I don't know and I'm not going to say anything more than that," he said.

"I've had some news today but I don't know. We'll see what happens."

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