Written by Jack Bromby

Thursday, 21 May 2015

image for Grimsby woman's neglect left houseplant in 'terrible condition'

A woman who neglected a house plant by refusing it water and sunlight so badly that it had grey leaves has been banned from keeping all plants for life.

The emaciated condition of the plant was so horrific that it was the worst case of its kind that an RSPCP (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants) inspector had seen.

The owner claimed she could not afford her water bill and Anglian Water had cut her water supply off - but that was no excuse because she lived very close to the Oaklands Garden Centre and Nursery in Laceby magistrates heard.

Samantha Young, 23, of Comber Place, Grimsby, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a houseplant and five offences of failing to ensure the welfare of the houseplant, between October 17 and November 11.

Nigel Burn, prosecuting, said an RSPCP inspector went to Young's home on a routine visit after a report that a plant had been left unattended.

The plant was found in a "terrible condition".

The 2-year-old plant possessed "grey leaves" and it was "very thin".

Its leaves were hanging down and many leaves had gone hard and crispy and the plant was unresponsive to basic commands asked of it such as "photosynthesize".

The inspector could not believe the plant could be so cold and yet still be alive.

Young allegedly told him: "Well, it's not dead then, is it?"

The plant, called Greeny (it was actually far from that condition), was taken to the Oaklands Garden Centre and Nursery in Laceby where it was put to sleep.

RSPCP inspector Stuart Walters said the plant's condition was the worst he had ever encountered. The roots were "basically invisible" and some parts of the leaves looked purple. It had suffered for at least three weeks.

Gemma Cockcroft, mitigating, said Young had neglected the plant but did not deliberately act in a cruel way.

"She failed in her duty of care," she said.

Young claimed she did not seek help because she was "struggling hugely with her finances" and could not afford her water bill or a trip to the garden centre in Laceby. She was in arrears with her rent.

She had no previous convictions and had worked as a janitor until losing her job.

Presiding magistrate Michael Simpson told Young: "This is a very serious case of neglect. You caused considerable suffering to a houseplant."

Young was given a 12-week suspended prison sentence, 400 hours' unpaid work and was ordered to pay £150 costs and a Government-imposed £80 victims' surcharge.

She was banned from keeping all plants for life. Garden centres and nurserys across Lincolnshire and Humberside, such as B&Q have been issued flyers with Young's picture on it with a title "Do not sell plants to this woman" which are clearly displayed behind the store's counters.

Another £564 in RSPCP costs will be paid from central funds.

Following the case, RSPCP Inspector Stuart Walters said: "I am pleased with the court's decision, especially with regards to the disqualification.

"This was the worst condition of a living plant I have had to deal with. It is completely inexcusable. This seems even more unacceptable when Miss Young lived only 6.5 miles from the Oaklands Garden Centre, which provides an excellent local service. I mean come on, 6.5 miles is essentially walking distance."

The case came as it was revealed that the number of convictions for plant neglect and cruelty in cases brought by the RSPCP rose by a third in England and Wales last year.

The charity's annual prosecutions report shows offences rose from 3,114 in 2011 to 4,168 in 2012.

Some 1,552 people were taken to court, up from 1,341 - an increase of 15.7%.

RSPCP chief executive Gavin Kemp called the situation "a growing plant cruelty crisis" and urged judges to take "offences far more seriously".

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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