Cat killers get Hong Kong's longest ever jail sentence for animal cruelty
Two men who took part in kicking a cat around like a ball in Kwun Tong were slapped with a 16-month jail term, the heaviest sentence that Hong Kong courts have ever passed down for a case of animal cruelty.
A magistrate chastised the pair for being "cruel and lacking a heart of compassion".
The ruling got the thumbs up from advocates of animal rights, who said it had sent an important message to society that animals should be protected just like humans.
Deputy Magistrate Kennis Tai Chiu-ki said: "The defendants have to shoulder responsibility for the incident ... They disregarded the pain suffered by the cat for the fun and thrill they derived from the abuse."
The incident, which happened in November 2012, left the animal paralysed and bleeding from its mouth. It was put down the next day because of injuries sustained to its kidneys and lungs. Tai said the pain inflicted on the animal was beyond description.
So Pak-lam, 23, and Yeung Kiu-yue, 26, had earlier pleaded not guilty in Kwun Tong Court to one count of cruelty to animals.
Another man, 23-year-old Yip Wai-kit, was acquitted last month, while a woman, 18-year-old Kong Ka-man, will face sentencing on January 16.
Tai refused Yeung's bail application, pending appeal.
During the trial, witness Yu Siu-man testified that a group of four or five men had ganged up on the cat at the 11th-floor stairwell of Tin Chi House in the Shun Tin Estate.
Yu, a salesman, said one of the men kicked the cat, which ran away. He later saw the same group of people abusing the cat on a balcony.
"Two of the men kept kicking and passing the cat like a soccer ball," Yu said. He heard one man laugh while the others stood and watched.
A photo showing blood oozing from the cat's mouth was circulated online.
"It is an unexpected result," Mark Mak Chi-ho, executive chairman of the Non-Profit-Making Veterinary Service Society, said outside court. "I admire the judge for her boldness in passing a heavier sentence than in past cases of animal abuse.
"Animals have the same rights as humans to live healthily."