Meerkat expert in love triangle cleared of assaulting monkey handler

A meerkat specialist caught in a zoo-themed love triangle has been cleared of an assault charge, which was based on the accusation that she smashed a wine glass against a monkey handler's face.

Both parties were romantically involved with a fellow zookeeper at one point

Caroline Westlake, top right, has been cleared of assaulting Kate Sanders, bottom right, with a wine glass at a Christmas party. Sanders at the time had been dating Westlake's ex-boyfriend, Adam Davies, left. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

A meerkat specialist caught in a zoo-centric love triangle has been cleared of an assault charge, based on the accusation that she smashed a wine glass against a monkey handler's face.

The two British High Court judges disagreed that Caroline Westlake, a former meerkat expert at the London Zoo, had "recklessly but not intentionally" struck Kate Sanders, a monkey handler at the same zoo.

Sanders accused Westlake of attacking her after Sanders criticised Westlake's appearance at a 2014 Christmas party, according to the Press Association. She had a one centimetre cut that required three stitches.

Prior to the Christmas party, both Sanders and Westlake had dated Adam Davies, a llama handler at the London Zoo.

Caroline Westlake, above, agreed that Kate Sanders' injury came from her wine glass, despite not remembering the 2014 incident. She was previously the meerkat specialist at the London Zoo. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

A lower court previously found Westlake guilty of assault by beating, fining her £800, but the High Court judges said it had used the wrong test for recklessness, reported the Associated Press. 

"Ms. Westlake's life has been destroyed by something that was no more than an unfortunate accident," said her lawyer, Suzanna Kelly, to the Press Association. 

"In particular Ms. Westlake was unfairly dismissed from her position as zoo keeper at ZSL London Zoo and has suffered significant psychological harm."

At that Dec. 8, 2014 Christmas party, Westlake reportedly heard Sanders speak unkindly of her in the washroom, while Westlake was in one of the stalls. 

"Have you seen the state of her?" Sanders said to friends regarding how much better she looked than Westlake, according to the Independent. She was dating Davies at the time, while Westlake was his ex-girlfriend. 

Sanders later tried to apologize, wrote the Press Association, but that created further tension, leading to her saying: "Nobody likes you – everyone thinks you're mad."

Kate Sanders, a monkey handler, had a cut requiring three stitches after the 2014 Christmas party in which she had a fight with Caroline Westlake. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

She accused Westlake of bashing the glass into her head as Sanders was trying to leave, reported the Independent.

Westlake said she may have accidentally hit Sanders with a wine glass, attributing it to her ADHD and dyspraxia. She said she does not remember the incident, but agreed that the injury came from her glass.


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