The West Ham United and France defender appeared at Thames Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning having been summonsed by the RSPCA under the Animal Welfare Act
West Ham United centre back Kurt Zouma has pleaded guilty to two offences under the animal cruelty act after appearing at a hearing at Thames Magistrates Court this morning.
The 27-year-old France international, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, covered his face and was hurried past photographers alongside two umbrella-carrying bodyguards as he arrived at court for the hearing alongside his brother Yoan, 24, after a case taken by the RSPCA in relation to a video posted online on February 6 which allegedly showed him harming one of his cats.
He has 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third charge of failing to “protect the animal from pain suffering injury or disease” in contravention of section 9 was withdrawn.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 now signed over ownership. The case has been adjourned until June 1.
Yoan Zouma has been accused of “aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Kurt Zouma to commit the offence.” He also pleaded guilty.
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. He was initially suspended by the National League side before being allowed to return to training after the police investigation closed on March 16.