A security guard who killed cats in a series of attacks over eight months in Brighton has been jailed for more than five years.
Steve Bouquet, 54, a shopping mall security guard from Brighton and Hove, had denied 16 counts of criminal damage in relation to cats and one count of possession of a knife but was convicted last month.
The owners of some of the cats Bouquet stabbed to death were at Hove crown court on Friday to see him imprisoned for five years and three months. Nine cats – Hendrix, Tommy, Hannah, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie and Cosmo – were killed and a further seven injured.Advertisement
After the incidents, which lasted from October 2018 to June 2019, he was finally captured on CCTV set up by an owner of a dead cat.
During the trial, jurors heard accounts from several cat owners who found their pets injured on their doorsteps.
Sentencing Bouquet, Judge Jeremy Gold QC said his behaviour was “cruel, it was sustained and it struck at the very heart of family life”. Bouquet, who had been called the “Brighton cat killer” by locals, appeared before the judge for the first time on Friday after not attending his trial.
In his police interview read out during the trial, Bouquet told officers he was “no threat to animals” – but a photo of a dead cat was found on his phone, the court heard.
CCTV footage allegedly implicating Bouquet in the attacks emerged after one pet owner, Stewart Montgomery, spotted a camera near a trail of blood outside his house where his kitten, Hendrix, had been stabbed with a knife. The camera had been erected by a neighbour whose cat had been killed the year before, the court heard.
The court heard the footage was said to show Bouquet stroking a cat and taking something from his rucksack before making a “sudden jerk” with his arm. “This is the moment we say that the defendant stabs Hendrix with some force,” said the prosecutor, Rowan Jenkins.
A knife, with feline blood on it and Bouquet’s DNA on the handle, was found during a search of his home, while mobile phone evidence placed him in the vicinity of many of the stabbings during the time they took place, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Jayne Cioffi from the CPS said: “This has been a tragic case for all the owners involved. Not only did Steve Bouquet inflict horrendous suffering to each of the animals he attacked, but he also caused real trauma to their owners, many of whom found their beloved pets injured and bleeding.
“None of us can comprehend what drove Bouquet to do this to family pets. His claims that it was simply chance that he was present at various times when the animals were attacked were rightly dismissed by the jury after being disproved by the investigation and prosecution work.”
Terry Mynott, an actor who stars in Channel 4’s The Mimic, said he was pleased Bouquet did not get away with just a fine. His cat, Bowser, was found with a single wound 2cm wide that went clean through his back leg and spine. Terry and his partner “threw everything” they could to try and save him but the wound was too deep and he died a few days later.
“I held him in my arms and saw the life drain out of his eyes – he was only one year old.”
Mynott said he was still gutted by the loss of his beloved pet and although the killing was not one of the nine dead cats named in the trial, he is convinced Bowser died at the hands of Bouquet, along with many more for whom there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
“I’m pleased his trial is over but I really hope that while he’s serving his time, he is made to get psychiatric help so he never hurts an animal or human for the rest of his life. I’ve already lost so it is hard to feel anything toward him. The worst that could happen happened.”
Mynott is supporting the RSPCA’s Cancel out cruelty campaign. “All I can do is put my energy into helping other animals,” he said.
Joy Persaud, a cat owner from Hove, also welcomed the sentencing. She said there was a “palpable fear” among cat owners before the perpetrator was found. “It is something of a relief to know that this man has been locked up and that his hideous crimes will be punished.”
This article first appeared in The Guardian