CAT-kicking coward Kurt Zouma permanently signed away his pets yesterday as the disgraced Premier League defender admitted animal cruelty.
Pictures showed the Bengals playing while recovering in the RSPCA’s care but experts warned of long-term trauma caused by the sick footballer’s “premeditated” attacks.
Kurt Zouma has admitted kicking his pet catCredit: SWNS
The footage showed him booting the animal across his kitchen
Experts warned the Bengals may suffer long-term trauma caused by the sick footballer’s ‘premeditated’ attacks
A jail term is not off the table when the West Ham star is sentenced next month.
And yesterday The Sun’s brave whistleblower said: “What he did was disgusting and prison isn’t too extreme.”
Zouma’s lawyer argued his punishment should be limited to a fine, saying he had lost a “substantial” Adidas contract and been docked £250,000 by West Ham.
But Judge Susan Holdham drily replied: “I’ve read that’s two weeks’ salary.”
We revealed in February that Zouma had been filmed by brother Yoan “drop-kicking” his pet, while his seven-year-old son looked on.
The Sun’s source said: “His son looked scared and he probably loved those cats.
“Now they’ve gone forever. How can any adult behave like that and do that to their own child?”
The RSPCA decided to prosecute the brothers after we passed over our dossier of evidence.
At around 9.30am yesterday, older brother Kurt, 27, emerged from a people carrier to be met outside court by security guards, thought to have been hired by West Ham.
The 6ft 3in French centre-back pulled his hood over his face and cowered behind three heavies as he made his way into the building.
Meanwhile, Yoan, 24, who plays for non-league Dagenham & Redbridge, arrived with no entourage at Thames magistrates’ court in Bow, East London.
At 10.36am the brothers entered the dock where they both admitted animal cruelty offences.
Wearing a black suit and white open-necked shirt, West Ham star Zouma could not look as sickening footage of the attack was played.
The court heard he flipped on February 6 after one of two Bengal cats broke a vase and damaged a chair in his £2million home.
RSPCA prosecutor Hazel Stevens said Zouma launched a “premeditated” attack on the animals, which was filmed by Yoan and later posted on Snapchat.
The footage began with the caption “ça commence”, French for “it’s starting”, showing Zouma picking up one cat.
He is then seen returning to the kitchen before dropping it then kicking it in the stomach and across the floor.
As the terrified pet races away, Yoan is heard laughing.
‘I SWEAR I’LL KILL IT’
The shared footage, which is littered with laughing emojis, then records Zouma throwing a shoe at one cat.
He is heard saying; “I’ll hit it — you want a fight? Where is it? Where is it?” He then adds: “I’ll kill it, I swear I’ll kill it.”
Zouma’s distressed son, seven, is seen picking up the Bengal before his dad says: “Come closer, come closer.”
As he approaches, Zouma is filmed slapping the cat across the head, sending it sprawling across a worktop before it runs away.
Ms Stevens told the court that Yoan ended the clip by saying of the cat: “Damn it. Poor guy.”
A day later Yoan sent the video to a woman he planned to go on a date with.
But she replied: “I don’t think hitting a cat like that is OK — the cat doesn’t know what it’s doing. Don’t bother coming today.”
When Yoan tried to tell her it was his brother in the video, she responded: “He’s your family and that represents you. It’s very cruel.
“I don’t want to associate with people who find that funny, especially in front of a child as well.”
Both cats were then seized by the RSPCA. The court heard two experts examined them three days later.
Wearing a black suit and white open-necked shirt, West Ham star Zouma could not look as sickening footage of the attack was playedCredit: Paul Edwards
His brother Yoan also pleaded guilty after filming the vile clipCredit: Paul Edwards
A jail term is not off the table when the West Ham defender is sentenced next monthCredit: Reuters
One, a vet, said it was likely the cat kicked in the stomach had suffered soft tissue trauma, leaving it in pain and discomfort and causing it stress and fear.
An animal behaviour expert also said both cats were likely to now be more fearful of humans because of the cruelty shown to them.
Ms Stevens said there had since been copycat attacks on other animals.
She said of the defendants: “They both have a position of responsibility as footballers.
“They are role models whose actions are copied. Their behaviour falls short of what is expected of a high-profile image.”
Zouma, who was an ambassador for a big cat charity, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Yoan admitted one count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring an animal welfare offence.
Two other charges against the men were set aside.
All sentencing options remain open — including jail, with up to five years a possibility. Judge Holdham ordered reports before a hearing next Wednesday.
The brothers are also likely to be hit with animal ownership bans.
The source who raised the alarm said if Zouma does not get sent to jail he should still “publicly pay the price”.
They said: “I hope he gets some kind of community service where he has to work with animals and learn how to treat them humanely.
“He’ll hate doing it, but he should be made to publicly pay the price for his actions. The Sun and the RSPCA have done brilliantly — this is the outcome I wanted.”
They added: “What he did was horrific. He was an ambassador for a big cat charity for God’s sake.
“That video showed there was nothing humanitarian about him.
“It’s really important for people to call this kind of thing out when they see it and to come forward. I’m really happy they’ve been made to face up to what they’ve done.”
The court was told the animals are now safe, although not yet rehomed.
But the RSPCA asked Sun readers not to offer help because they are currently besieged with cases.
The RSPCA’s Dermot Murphy said: “It’s never acceptable to treat an animal in this way and we were shocked when the video was first brought to our attention.
“What makes this case even more sad is the way the video was filmed and shared, making light of such cruelty. We hope this case will serve as a reminder that all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect, and we will not tolerate cruelty, by anybody.”
ADDRESS GAG ORDER
LAWYERS for Kurt Zouma were granted a gagging order yesterday to prevent the media identifying the town or county he lives in.
Judge Susan Holdham agreed publication would be “reckless” as she imposed a Section 11 Contempt of Court order, usually reserved for national security cases.
The request was backed by lawyers for Zouma’s brother. It means details of neither’s address can be made public — despite the name of Kurt’s town being widely reported online.
Newspaper groups opposed the decision.
Zouma’s barrister, Trevor Burke QC, added that his client had faced racist “threats to kill” on social media, the attacks among “the worst the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) had ever seen”.
He said Prem star Zouma now had “24/7 security”.
Mr Burke said social media firms had closed 100 accounts and police have investigated 150.
Charges were likely in seven cases, he said.