By James Tozer
Last updated at 11:31 PM on 8th December 2010
A diplomat’s son who viciously kicked and punched his puppy because he was ‘having a bad day’ after being turned down for a job has narrowly avoided being locked up for the horrific attack.
Mohammed Abou-Sabaa, whose father is a prominent Tunisian official, was caught on CCTV raining down more than 20 blows on his labrador, Poppy, as she cowered in terror.
In a final, sickening, attack, the 21-year-old student was filmed kicking the blameless pet down a flight of steps outside his luxury city centre flat.
Attack: Mohammed Abou-Sabaa was caught on CCTV brutally abusing his five-month-old labrador puppy
Abou-Sabaa was seen raining down more than 20 blows on the puppy as she cowered in terror
But despite his behaviour being branded ‘despicable’ by RSPCA inspectors, magistrates agreed to let him walk free from court, imposing a suspended prison sentence and banning him from keeping animals for four years.
They told him they were letting him off because he was in full-time education – however it emerged yesterday he is likely to face disciplinary action from the authorities at Manchester University over his conviction for animal cruelty.
Brazen Abou-Sabaa punched and kicked the dog outside the entrance to his building, stopping when a fellow resident went indoors before resuming the unprovoked assault.
Punishment: Diplomat’s son Abou-Sabaa was given a six-week sentence, suspended for two years,
An investigation was launched after the appalled caretaker saw the attack on CCTV and contacted the RSPCA.
When he appeared in court, shocked magistrates asked for the gruelling six-minute video footage to be stopped because they couldn’t bear to sit through it all.
It shows the uncomprehending, mild-mannered pet cowering while Abou-Sabaa beats it ferociously, stopping only to mop his brow.
At one stage he yanks the puppy up by its neck then slaps it to the ground, also standing on the terrified dog with his full weight.
Finally he uses his knee to launch her down a stairwell.
Poppy was seized by RSPCA inspectors and has made a full physical recovery from the attack in July.
Abou-Sabaa told investigators he had been having a bad day after learning he had failed with a job application and was training the dog.
But David McCormick, prosecuting for the RSPCA, told Manchester magistrates it was a sustained and brutal attack – a ‘wanton and deliberate act of cruelty.’
‘The defendant was seen wiping sweat from his brow and only stopped the assault when people entered the building and then carried on when they had gone,’ he added.
John Hera, defending, said Abou-Sabba had acted out of character. ‘Something clicked inside him and there was lots of anger. He is full of remorse.’
Abou-Sabaa, from Manchester, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Poppy.
Magistrates decided not to jail him immediately because of his age, his guilty plea, and because he was in full-time education.
Jane Dyson, chairwoman of the bench, said: ‘This is simply a terrible demonstration of cruelty to a vulnerable puppy. None of us have seen anything like it – you have just avoided prison.’
He was instead given a six-week sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work.
He was also banned from keeping animals for four years and told to pay £1,000 costs.
Afterwards RSPCA inspector Paul Heaton said: ‘It was a despicable act. I was incensed when I saw the video – it just went on and on.
Recovered: Poppy the labrador has now made a full recovery and the RSPCA is trying to rehome her
‘He said he had applied for a job apparently and had not got it and he was having a bad day.
‘I do not know of any training school that says that smacking a dog is a way of training it.’
Abou-Sabaa’s father, a Tunisian diplomat, travelled from his home country to hear the case.
He said afterwards: ‘I have had words with my son and my family and I want to apologise for what he did.’
Abou-Sabaa is studying mechatronics – a combination of engineering and electronics.
While a criminal conviction for animal cruelty doesn’t automatically bar him from the course, he could be suspended for bringing the university into disrepute.
A spokesman for Manchester University said: ‘We are looking into this case.’
Poppy is being looked after by the RSPCA and is likely to be rehomed in the new year after the court signed her over to their care.
Mr Heaton added: ‘Poppy is fine now. She is doing okay.