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Cat kicker covered up: West Ham defender Kurt Zouma admits kicking and slapping pet
24 May 2022, 11:02 | Updated: 24 May 2022, 12:26
West Ham defender Kurt Zouma has pleaded guilty to kicking and slapping his pet cat.
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The centre-back had been filmed chasing the animal around a house during the football season.
The clip sparked widespread outrage and condemnation.
The 27-year-old arrived at court in bizarre scenes as security guards deployed umbrellas around the footballer, covering him up and then bustling him through the waiting crowd of photographers.
He was bundled into Thames Magistrates' Court in east London before pleading guilty to two counts under the Animal Welfare Act.
Previously, Zouma apologised over the harrowing footage, which was filmed and shared by his younger brother Yoan, 24.
Angry football crowds began booing the Frenchman whenever he touched the ball and Hammers boss David Moyes was criticised for continuing to play the defender as his side chased European football.
Yoan Zouma also admitted an offence in Tuesday's hearing.
Kurt Zouma arrived at court in a chaotic fashion, accompanied by several security guards who emerged from a vehicle holding umbrellas to form a protective shield around him.
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.
The clip contained laughing, and featured laughing emojis.
Prosecutor Hazel Stevens told the court Kurt Zouma could be heard saying: "I swear I'll kill it, I swear I'll kill it."
He admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal on February 6.
Yoan admitted one count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring his older brother to commit an offence.
Both will be sentenced next week.
Prosecutor 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."
The court heard the "premeditated" attack was filmed by Yoan Zouma, who sent it to a woman he was due to go on a date with.
But the woman was so shocked that she called off their meeting, telling him: "I don't think hitting a cat like that is OK - don't bother coming today."
Ms Stevens added: "Since this footage was put in public domain there has been a spate of people hitting cats and posting it on various social media sites.
"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 rehomed.
It was not possible to state whether it was the same cat in each section of footage, but experts said whichever animal had been struck would have likely suffered soft tissue damage to the head, as well as mental and physical suffering.
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, and the pair were released on bail.
Two further charges against the men were dismissed.
In a statement, 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 by anybody."