Jealous woman killed neighbour’s fish – after wrongly believing he slept with her girlfriend

Catherine Lenaghan.
Catherine Lenaghan.
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A woman broke into her neighbour’s home on New Year’s Eve and smashed up his fish tank – because she wrongly believed he had slept with her girlfriend.

Catherine Lenaghan, 37, targeted the victim’s home in Grindon Lane while he was out celebrating with a festive meal, Sunderland magistrates heard.

She broke a window before sending the fish tank crashing to the floor, causing £495 of damage, the court was told.

Prosecutor Glenda Beck said 11 fish were killed in the incident. However, the death of the fish was disputed by Lenaghan.

“The injured party in this case lives in a ground-floor flat on Grindon Lane,” Ms Beck said. “At 6.30pm on New Year’s Eve he went out for a New Year’s meal. He returned to his address at 11pm that evening.”

Ms Beck said the victim saw Lenaghan – his next-door neighbour – smashing his front window.

The victim asked her why, and she responded: ‘You slept with my girlfriend’, the court heard.

Referring from the victim’s police statement, Ms Beck said Lenaghan threw a punch towards the victim and he pushed her to the floor in self-defence as she shouted and made threats.

Mrs Beck added: “She then reached in and punched the fish tank, causing it to fall to the floor and smash, causing the fish and water to go on the floor.”

As he called the police, Lenaghan continued to shout, calling him a ‘grass’.

The damage included £200 for the window, £110 for the fish tank, £25 for the fish and £160 for the carpet.

In a statement read out in court, the victim said: “I don’t feel safe any more. I’m in fear of my property.

“She accuses me of sleeping with her girlfriend, who I know, but I’ve not been with her at all. There was no need for my property to be damaged.”

Lenaghan, now of Southend Road, Springwell, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to criminal damage.

She was previously jailed in 2014 for two years for burglary.

On that occasion she and another woman conned themselves into an elderly man’s home by posing as police officers. Ian Cassidy, defending, said: “What she says is ‘I had been led to believe there had been an affair between a neighbour and my partner and in drink I have reacted in a way I’m not proud of’.

“She accepts she broke then window.

“She accepts she punched the fish tank to the ground and accepts damage was caused.

“What she doesn’t accept is that the fish died or that there was a carpet on the floor.

“He has wood floors throughout. There was a rug, but not a carpet.

“There was no damage to carpets or injury caused to the fish.

“This is not an offence of causing unlawful suffering to animals.”

Lenaghan was fined £120 and was told to pay £275 in compensation, £85 costs and £20 victim surcharge.