Zoologist accused of assault tells of cloakroom confrontation with love rival


A former London Zoo zoologist has no recollection of how the ex-girlfriend of her llama-keeper lover ended up with a gash to her face after a Christmas party fight, a court heard.

Caroline Westlake, 30, is accused of glassing monkey-keeper Kate Sanders after being confronted about dating Adam Davies.

However, Westlake claims Ms Sanders punched her in the face first, and held her over a balcony while spitting in her face.

Earlier in the night on December 8 last year, Westlake heard her fellow zoo-keeper telling friends in the toilets that she looked like a "state", Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

But the feud came to a head at the end of the night when Westlake went to the cloakroom and Ms Sanders approached her at the party in London Zoo, the court heard.

Describing the incident, Westlake said: "When I got to the cloakroom I remember looking up and seeing her standing there."

She added that she felt a bit uncomfortable after hearing the comments earlier in the night, but did not want to leave and give the impression that she was "terrified".

Westlake continued: "She (Ms Sanders) said 'Caroline, I want to apologise for what you heard me saying earlier in the bathrooms', and then I remember saying 'why did you say it? I am trying to be nice, trying to be civil, I don't understand what I have done wrong to you'.

"And then I remember her saying 'you're dating my ex-boyfriend'."

The court heard that Westlake had been seeing Mr Davies for a year at the time, and he had previously had a five-year relationship with Ms Sanders.

Westlake told the court that soon after she and Ms Sanders started speaking, the argument escalated.

She said: "It got really, really heated and she was saying everyone hates you, everyone says you're mad, no one likes you. She just kept screaming in my face. So then I said 'they say the same about you'.

"She punched me in the side of my face. It kind of knocked me, knocked me back. And then it was like a split second struggle and I was standing apart from her and I remember seeing her face was cut, and I remember thinking 'how has this happened?'," she added.

Westlake told magistrates that she had taken a wine glass down to the cloakroom with her, but did not remember it being in her hand at the time of the confrontation.

Westlake, of Salisbury Road, Banstead, Surrey, denies one count of assault by beating.