A WOMAN who kept a one-month-old meerkitten stolen from Perth Zoo in her bedroom for two days until she was caught by police has cried in court but been sentenced to a suspended prison term.
Aimee Cummins, 23, was with Jesse Ray Hooker, 23, as they visited the zoo on September 19 last year.
Hooker previously pleaded guilty to stealing and was fined $4000 in Perth Magistrates Court, plus costs of $205.
The court heard Hooker reached over the waist-high glass barrier to grab the newborn, later saying he “fell in love with it” and “thought it would be cool as a pet”.
He used a cooler bag to hide the animal and played loud music to muffle its cries.
The pair went to McDonald’s, then took the meerkitten home to join four dogs and one cat.
Cummins kept the animal in her bedroom at a Beverley home, in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region, for two days until police found it.
On Wednesday, Cummins pleaded guilty to receiving the stolen animal and was sentenced to seven months in prison, suspended for 12 months.
She was shaking and crying throughout proceedings and when her sentence was handed down, Cummins shouted in disbelief: “What?”
The court heard Cummins was aware of the widespread media coverage about the stolen meerkitten.
Her lawyer said Cummins had mental health issues, for which she was on medication, and could be out of work for years.
Chief Magistrate Steven Heath acknowledged Cummins had no prior convictions but said stealing a wild animal from the zoo was a serious offence.
Hooker’s lawyer Chad Silver previously told the court his client intended to bring the meerkitten back after seeing media reports but police arrived first.
Mr Silver said Hooker never intended to sell the animal and accepted his behaviour was stupid.
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