The Full Story: On Aug. 21, 45-year-old British bank worker Mary Bale came across a cat while walking down a sidewalk in Coventry. She petted it, made sure no one was looking, then shoved it into a trash can before walking on. Little did she know that the owners of the cat, Stephanie and Darryl Mann, also owned a closed circuit video camera that captured the whole thing. The cat, named Lola, remained trapped for 15 hours before she was found by her owners. To find Lola's assailant, the Manns posted the security video of Bale on YouTube and set up a Facebook page, "Help Find the Woman Who Put My Cat in the Bin." The video quickly blew up. Bale was identified, and hate groups popped up all over Facebook, including the since-removed Death to Mary Bale group. Bale seemed indifferent at first and told The Sun, "It's just a cat" -- not realizing she would become globally reviled. Hate mail started flooding her mailbox, and thousands of death threats were posted online. An ironic Twitter feed of Bale's supposed thoughts, CatBinLady, amassed a huge following (35,000 so far). Before police even charged Bale with any crimes, the public derision of her was so strong that she resigned from her job at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
What's Happened Since? On Oct. 21, Bale pleaded guilty to the charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. She was fined £250 ($393) and banned from having pets for five years. For all the fuss, the punishment may seem light, but the fact that Bale was stressed at the time due to her father being critically ill was taken into account, as was the suffering caused by her dubious fame. "The media interest in this case has resulted in you being vilified in some quarters, and I have taken that into account," Judge Caroline Goulborn said. And by "some quarters," she meant pretty much all quarters.
In Her Own Words: Bale's response to the entire episode took a 180 degree turn after it became a media sensation. Only a few days after Bale demonstrated her nonchalance by saying, "OK, I shouldn't have done it -- but it's just a cat at the end of the day," she issued a formal apology. "I want to take this opportunity to apologize profusely for the upset and distress that my actions have caused. It was a split second of misjudgment that has got completely out of control."
Video: Sky News coverage of Mary Bale putting Lola in the bin
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