A 24-YEAR-OLD man who caused fractures and what are believed to be burns to his pet kitten’s head has been warned he could face prison.

Joe Purvis, of Upton-upon-Severn, accepted a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal when appearing before magistrates on Friday last week.

The 24-year-old took his Maine Coon cat, named Indico, to a vet in November last year and the animal was found to have three fractures to its skull as well as marks to the top of its head.

The defendant admitted he had given the 12-week old cat a “back-hander” in reaction to it biting him, which caused the fractures, the court heard.

Purvis, who previously attended Heart of Worcestershire College in Worcester, claimed the marks on the cat’s head were caused when the kitten hit its head on a tap while he was cleaning it, after it had defecated on itself and him.

However, the vet did not believe the marks, which they said appeared to be burns that were several days older than Purvis claimed, were consistent with the incident he described, and raised the alarm with the RSPCA.

Sara Pratt, prosecuting, said the injury to the head was the size of a two pence piece and there was “fur missing” from the area.

The vet also said further “clumps of hair came off on their fingertips” during examination.

The court heard that the case could become subject to a Newton hearing, or trial of issue, in which experts would be drafted in to determine how the secondary injury came about.

However, Miss Penny, defending, said this may be unnecessary, due to the cost and the fact that both sides agree the initial injuries alone put the offence in the top end of its category.

The solicitor said her client does not accept the marks were caused by a burn, which was suggested in court to have potentially been caused by a cigarette, or a “few days before as the vet suggests”.

She said Purvis claims the cat came “into contact with the tap in a way that it shouldn’t have done” after being startled by the water.

Miss Penny said her client understands he could face a six-month custody sentencing.

Chair of the bench, Michael Williams, agreed that a Newton hearing was not necessary but did adjourn the sentencing for a pre-sentence report to be compiled by the probation service.

“How the injury was caused to the top of the head is a little bit immaterial. It is not significant to the sentencing,” he said.

The court had heard Purvis, of William Tennant Way, Upton-upon-Severn, suffered from mental health problems and took medication, which Mr Williams said would need to be detailed in the report.

The sentencing is set for 2pm on March 22 at Worcester Magistrates’ Court.

Purvis was given bail with the condition that he does not have ownership or control of any animals.

See malverngazette.co.uk for updates on this article.