West Ham defender Kurt Zouma has been sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to kicking and slapping his pet.
The French international has also been banned from owning cats for five years after he attended Thames Magistrates Court to hear the verdict from District Judge Sudan Holdham. The 27-year-old’s brother, Yoan Zouma, has also been sentenced to 140 hours after facing a charge of “aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Kurt Zouma to commit the offence.” He also pleaded guilty last week having filmed the cats being abused on Snapchat and laughing in the background.
Passing sentence on Wednesday morning, Judge Holdham told the West Ham defender: “You kicked and slapped either the same cat or both of them – that cat looked to you to care for its needs. On that date in February, you didn’t provide for its needs but caused unnecessary suffering for your own amusement.” She added: “You must have been aware that others look up to you. Many young people aspire to emulate you.”
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Zouma pleaded guilty to two counts of causing “unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, by kicking and slapping a cat”, in contravention of section 4 subsection 1 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. A third charge of failing to “protect the animal from pain suffering injury or disease” in contravention of section 9 was withdrawn.
Both cats were brought under the care of RSPCA on February 12 and Zouma has since signed over ownership. The court was told that a woman who had been messaging Yoan Zouma about arranging a date raised concern after seeing a video that was uploaded to Snapchat. The woman was so appalled by the footage that she then cancelled the date.
Prosecutor Hazel Stevens told the court that Kurt could be heard saying: “I swear I’ll kill it, I swear I’ll kill it.” Ms Stevens also said that there has been a “spate of people hitting cats and posting it on various social media sites” since the Zouma incident. After the video surfaced Kurt Zouma was fined two weeks’ wages – the maximum permitted – by West Ham, who donated the sum of £250,000 to nine different charities.
He also lost a sponsorship deal with adidas while the club’s partners Kissimmee and Vitality pulled their deals after Zouma continued to play under manager David Moyes. The defender’s legal team have argued that he is no longer being considered for selection by France owing to the incident.
Zouma said he was “deeply sorry” when the footage was circulated in February. “I want to apologise for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret. 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.”
Yoan Zouma has not played for his club Dagenham and Redbridge since late January but the National League club announced this morning that his contract has been extended. He was initially suspended by the fifth-tier side before being allowed to return to training after the police investigation closed on March 16.
Source by Football London