Four teenagers have admitted carrying out an “appalling” and “despicable” attack on a dead family cat in a Derbyshire park earlier this year.
The youths, aged 17, 16, 15 and 15, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all pleaded guilty at Chesterfield magistrates’ court to carrying out an act of outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner, namely beating a cat.
The court heard the pet cat was already dead after suffering a “large bite wound”, believed to have been from a dog, before the teens attacked the three-year-old ginger moggy with a stick, a rock and a rope in Riddings Park on August 11.
The sickening details of how the cat had a rock smashed on its head, was poked with a stick and strung up with a piece of rope while its “eyes were popping out” all emerged during the hearing.
Not only that, the youths then filmed the act and posted it to friends on mobile phone application Snapchat.
District judge Jan Jellema said: “The behaviour, as it has been described to me is, to say the least, appalling and despicable.
“The aggravating factor is that it was posted on Snapchat so that others were shown through that medium what had gone on.”
The teenagers stood side-by-side during the hearing, accompanied by their parents.
The owner of the cat, mum-of-two Katie Dowler-Chell, also attended the hearing and sat at the back of the court.
Speaking to the Derbyshire Times after the attack in August, Ms Dowler-Chell, 31, said that the cat was “like a best friend” to her six-year-old son Lucas.
Prosecuting, John Cooper, said that a man found the dead cat, called Leo, with a rope tied around its waist at about 2.30pm on Thursday, August 11 while walking his dog on a path at the park.
The man called the RSPCA and the police were also informed.
Mr Cooper told the court that the case “attracted a lot of interest on social media” and it was also said that threats had been made against the youths.
The abuse came after it emerged that images of the dead cat “with its eyes popping out” had been posted on Snapchat. This footage was then uploaded to the internet, but this was by another person, who was not named, and not by the teenagers.
Mr Cooper then outlined what was said alongside three pictures which were sent on Snapchat.
“One read ‘EYEBALL HANGIN’ OUT’,” Mr Cooper said.
“The second one said ‘AHAH MAD GUY’.
“A third said ‘PHA MAD GUY’.”
A post-mortem examination by the RSPCA said that Leo’s death was caused by a dog before the attack took place, although it was not said what breed of dog.
Speaking about the effect of the attack on Ms Dowler’s family, district judge Jellema, said: “Ms Dowler says this case has caused her family considerable upset. This is because her six-year-old child was very close to the cat.”
Before adjourning the hearing, district judge Jellema added: “You have heard what I have said about this case, I don’t need to repeat what I think about it.
“This remains a very serious matter.
“I am keeping all sentencing options open.”
Sentencing was adjourned until November 22 at Chesterfield magistrates’ court and all four defendants were released on bail.