Pictured: Kurt Zouma’s cats are now happy and healthy as RSPCA prepare to re-home them after West Ham star pleaded guilty to animal cruelty over cat-kicking video
- Kurt Zouma, 27, was pictured arriving at Thames Magistrates’ Court this morning
- Zouma has admitted kicking and slapping his cat in video filmed by his brother
- Yoan Zouma also admitted a charge of aiding or abetting his brother’s offending
- The pair are set to be sentenced for their offences at the same court on June 1
Kurt Zouma’s cats have been pictured happy and healthy as the RSPCA prepare to re-home them following the disgraced footballer admitting to animal cruelty charges.
Newly released images show his former Bengal cats, Bonbon and Cherie, playfully roaming around their temporary homes while the animal rights charity begins the processing of transferring them to new owners.
In the 20-second clip, the adorable cat meows softly and can be seen playing with toys as it scampers around – just months after a harrowing Snapchat video showed the moment it was savagely kicked by the French footballer.
The Premier League star today admitted kicking and slapping his pet cat in a viral video which sparked a series of similar animal cruelty attacks, the court heard.
The shocking incident came to light after a woman who had been due to go on a date with Kurt’s brother Yoan saw the footage on his Snapchat, prompting her to raise the alarm and cancel her date.
The woman, who was not named, told Yoan Zouma she ‘did not want to associate’ with anyone who found his brother’s actions funny.
The West Ham United defender pleaded guilty to two counts under the Animal Welfare Act when he appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court in east London on Tuesday morning.
Zouma, 27, was forced to apologise after harrowing footage was filmed and shared by his younger brother Yoan, 24, who also admitted one offence during the hearing.
Prosecutors also told the court that the footage sparked a spate of copycat attacks which were filmed and shared online, sparking outrage from campaigners.
Newly released images show his former Bengal cats, Bonbon and Cherie, playfully roaming around their temporary homes while the animal rights charity begins the processing of transferring them to new owners
Pictured: Zouma’s two Bengal cats are due to be rehomed by the RSPCA later this year
Premier League footballer Kurt Zouma (pictured leaving court) admitted kicking and slapping his cat after a video of the incident which also showed him saying ‘I swear I’ll kill it’ went viral
West Ham defender Kurt Zouma (pictured) was summonsed to appear before court in relation to a video which emerged in February of him allegedly kicking and slapping his cat
The court was told about disturbing footage of the incident, filmed at Zouma’s home and posted on Snapchat by his brother on February 6.
It was later seen by a woman who had been messaging Yoan, who raised the alarm.
Zouma could be seen volleying the Bengal cat across his kitchen, before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.
Prosecutor Hazel Stevens told the court Kurt Zouma could be heard saying: ‘I swear I’ll kill it, I swear I’ll kill it.’
Ms Stevens said the 40-second clip appeared to be carried out after the cats were deemed responsible for damaging a chair in the home.
She said: ‘Kurt Zouma is determined to chastise or carry out some sort of retribution for the damage caused.’
Kurt Zouma also enlisted his seven-year-old son to hold one of the cats while he slapped it in the head.
Ms Stevens added: ‘This is a scene which can only be described as shocking. He did not chastise the cat where it was but brought it into the kitchen and kicked it like a football.’
Kurt Zouma was forced to apologise after a video of him kicking his cat went viral in February
Zouma admitted two offences under the Animal Welfare Act after kicking and slapping his cat
The court heard the young woman who first reported the footage was so appalled she cancelled a date with Yoan Zouma, writing: ‘I don’t think that is OK. The cat does not know what it is doing.
Judge agrees to ban reporting of Zouma’s address after abuse
Footballer Kurt Zouma’s address will be withheld from the public domain after a judge heard about the ‘grotesque’ abuse he received since a video of him kicking his cat went viral.
Trevor Burke QC, for West Ham defender Zouma, said his client received abuse that was ‘the worst’ the football players’ union had seen.
He said police were looking to prosecute those responsible, but said the strength of the abuse gave rise to concerns about Zouma’s safety, despite stringent security measures already being in place at his home.
Content of the messages was not read out at Thames Magistrates’ Court in East London on Tuesday, although a redacted copy was shown to the district judge, Susan Holdham.
She imposed an order under Section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act, banning publication of the Zoumas’ addresses, in full or in part.
She said: ‘I can see a number of messages – vile, racial abuse.
‘There are threats to kill. They refer to him and his children. The bar (on media reporting) is a high one, but I think it has been reached.
‘I quite understand the necessity for open justice and for the press to report freely but in these circumstances I am prepared for the address of both defendants to be withheld.’
‘I do not want to associate with people who find that funny, in front of a child as well.
‘You should be careful of that stuff, especially with your family being who they are.’
Footage showed Kurt Zouma filming the cat sitting on a chair and approaching it with a slipper before running at the cat.
While carrying the cat at waist height Zouma ‘drops the cat, kicks it in the stomach with his left foot and another cat can be seen running away,’ said Ms Stevens.
Kurt could be heard laughing in the background while Yoan posted the video with laughing emojis.
Kurt was heard saying ‘I’ll hit it’, ‘you want a fight’ and ‘where is it. Where is it?’ and ‘I’ll kill it – I swear – I’ll kill it.’
The prosecutor added: ‘The cat was brought into the kitchen where it was then kicked. The chasing and the throwing starts.
‘He already has a state of mind that he will do further harm to the cat.’
Ms Stevens said there has been a ‘spate of people hitting cats and posting it on various social media sites’ since the footage was shared.
‘Treating family pets in this way does not demonstrate good role model behaviour.
‘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.’
The court heard the Premier League defender has since agreed for his two Bengal male cats to be re-homed and they are still in the protection of the RSPCA.
An independent vet, who assessed the cats later and watched the video, said there were ‘no remaining signs of injuries’ to the cats when he examined them.
But he said that being hit and kicked would have caused suffering, while being chased would have caused fear or distress.
Yoan Zouma at court to appear over claims filming a cat being kicked by brother Kurt Zouma
Yoan Zouma, the brother of West Ham’s Kurt Zouma, arrives at Thames Magistrates’ Court
In his statement, he added: ‘In my opinion, the force of the kicking into the abdomen of a cat and the slapping of the cat to the head, both of which were with force, as seen in the video recording would have without any doubt in my mind have cause soft tissue trauma, pain and discomfort to the cat (or cats) on the day but any evidence of that soft tissue trauma would be very unlikely to have been found three days later.
‘I have no doubt that Kurt Zouma knew or would be expected to know that kicking a cat into its abdomen would cause or was likely to cause pain, discomfort and distress or worse injuries… It is my opinion that there can be no justified reason to treat a cat or cats in this manner.’
The 27-year-old admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal on February 6.
Yoan filmed the incident and admitted one count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring his older brother to commit an offence.
Defending the West Ham player, Trevor Burke QC said his client had been fined £250,000 by his club and lost a ‘substantial’ sponsorship deal with Adidas.
He had also not been picked for the French national team, he said.
Mr Burke said: ‘A Google search will always reveal the guilty plea and the video.’
District Judge Susan Holdham adjourned proceedings until the sentencing hearing on June 1. Two further charges against the men were dismissed.
The RSPCA prosecuted Kurt Zouma (right) and his younger brother Yoan (left) over the video
David Moyes received backlash for picking Zouma despite admitting his actions were ‘terrible’
Hammers defender Zouma arrived at court in chaotic fashion, accompanied by several security guards who emerged from a vehicle holding umbrellas to form a protective shield around the defendant.
Two cats belonging to Zouma are still under the care of the the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
Speaking after the hearing, RSPCA chief inspectorate officer 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 that we will not tolerate cruelty.’
West Ham fined their player £250,000 in relation to the incident and made donations to nine animal welfare charities in the UK and overseas.
In the aftermath of the incident in February, Zouma issued an apology which was sent out to the media and read: ‘I want to apologise for my actions.
‘There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.
The RSPCA has since taken care of the two Bengal cats who remain at an undisclosed location
Pictured: One of the cats that were confiscated from Kurt Zouma after the video went viral
‘I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.
‘They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.’
As well as his public apology, Zouma apologised to his team-mates at their training ground.
It is understood the £29.8million defender was sent on an animal awareness course by his club.
Zouma also lost his Adidas sponsorship deal as a result of the controversy.
Yoan was temporarily suspended by Dagenham & Redbridge amid the backlash before returning to the team in March.
He also issued an apology published on Dagenham & Redbridge’s official website, stating: ‘I deeply regret my involvement in the video that has been widely circulated and unreservedly apologise, not only for my actions, but for the upset and distress this will have caused to so many people.
‘I am now taking time to reflect on what I have done but wish to assure everyone that this was an isolated incident and not something that I am proud of.’
West Ham were criticised for playing Zouma just 24 hours after the disturbing video went viral
West Ham boss David Moyes played Zouma during a home win against Watford, just over 24 hours after the video showing the player kicking and slapping his pet cat had circulated on social media, sparking widespread condemnation.
West Ham confirmed they would continue to play Zouma despite the ferocious backlash to the footage of the Frenchman.
Moyes confirmed in the aftermath of the video going viral, he would not be dropping Zouma, adding he does not regret the decisions he made and insisting he knew ‘exactly where my moral compass is’.
The Hammers manager said at the time that he considered the fine, along with the verbal abuse Zouma received from rival supporters at stadiums, sufficient punishment and asked for ‘forgiveness’ for his player.
The incident led to a rise in copycat attacks by an online group who called themselves ‘Kick the Cat Club’.
The group filmed their attacks before circulating the disgusting footage on the internet.
The brothers’ addresses cannot be published because of concerns over the threats to the pair.
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