News, Culture & Society

Met police ‘spent £500,000’ on three-year Croydon Cat Killer probe

Animal lovers have vowed to find the supposed Croydon Cat Killer themselves after a three-year police investigation found the animals had been mutilated by foxes. 

Scotland Yard said yesterday that the hundreds of alleged cat mutilations in south London were not the work of a human killer, after reportedly spending £500,000 on the probe. 

Today a petition was launched calling on police to re-open the case while South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL), a south London charity, said they would continue the investigation themselves. 

The charity said they found it ‘difficult to understand’ that cats could have been decapitated in similar ways across London with no similar cases in other parts of the country.  

The locations where the cat killer was thought to have struck, sparking a three-year police hunt which is reported to have cost £500,000 but found that no human killer was responsible 

Posting on Facebook, they said: ‘The cats who have been decapitated have had their heads removed in exactly the same manner and place each time. 

‘Where we have recovered both head and body, the same small part is missing from each.

‘We find it difficult to understand how foxes can replicate this perfectly across a range of victims across a vast geographical area.

‘In West Wickham, a cat’s collar was returned five months after the cat was killed. That’s not foxes. 

‘We have taken a collective decision this afternoon to continue with the investigation. We now have the skills within our extended team to cover most of what police would be doing anyway.

‘The police have stated today that they have never had a full time officer assigned to the case, so we are wondering now how much time has actually been spent trying to solve this.

‘That said, we also know of some exceptional police work done at the start of this case and would like to thank the officers who worked on it.’ 

A petition started yesterday to re-open the investigation had more than 2,700 signatures on Friday afternoon. 

Vinnii West, who started the petition, wrote: ‘I’ve started the petition because we need the [Met Police] to open the case again and to keep looking to find this disgusting person.

‘Animals are being killed by blunt forces. And a clean cut. Surely the ‘animals’ killing them, would have teeth marks?’ 

The three-year police inquiry took up 1,000 hours of officers’ time and cost half a million pounds, The Sun reported. 

Costs in the police investigation are said to have included £10,000 for post-mortem examinations on the dead cats and £5,000 for a psychological profile of the alleged killer.  

Police declined to comment on the reported £500,000 cost when approached by MailOnline. 

In response to previous Freedom of Information requests Scotland Yard has said it did not compile the total cost of the investigation. 

Earlier this year they said there had been 27 post-mortem examinations on cats but said some had been paid for by the RSPCA or other police forces. 

Replying to a request last year they said around 10 hours of police manpower a week had been dedicated to the investigation. 

Ukiyo who was found dismembered near her owner's home in the Croydon area of London

Ukiyo who was found dismembered near her owner’s home in the Croydon area of London

The Crime Squad in Croydon was dealing with the inquiry although none of them were working full-time on the cat killer claims, police said.   

As recently as March this year police had said they had a profile of the person they suspected and said they were ‘confident that they will apprehend the person or persons responsible’. 

In January a 31-year-old man was arrested in connection with a series of cat deaths but then released.  

The headless animal corpses in Croydon and elsewhere had sparked fears that a cat killer was stalking the streets of south London.  

Reports of mutilated cats, often found with their heads and tails removed, sparked an investigation in November 2015.

Officers worked with the RSPCA and local charity South Norwood Animal Rescue League (SNARL).

The charity’s co-founder, Boudicca Rising, co-founder of South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty, said: ‘We are aware of the notification by the Met Police that they are discontinuing Operation Takahe.

Tabitha Brown (daughter of Samantha Glass) with her pet cat Harley, who had been thought to have been slain by the notorious Croydon Cat Killer

Tabitha Brown (daughter of Samantha Glass) with her pet cat Harley, who had been thought to have been slain by the notorious Croydon Cat Killer

‘This is due to “new evidence” that suggests the injuries to the cats are fox predation post- road traffic accident or other event.

‘As you can imagine, this morning’s announcement has come as a surprise and we will be taking advice on how to move forward.’

She said that after considering the evidence she was certain that human involvement was behind the cat deaths.

‘We have expert evidence to back this up, over the last three years, we have discounted over 1,500 incidents as non-human related,’ she said. 

‘The police have said that they will continue to investigate incidents where there is clear evidence of human involvement.

‘Our priority at the moment is the victims’ families and we will release a further statement in due course.’ 

Tony Jenkins, who co-founded the charity, said he did not agree with the police’s conclusion.

The 54-year-old told MailOnline: ‘We firmly believe that there’s a killer and there are a number of instances around some of the victims which can in no way be attributed to foxes or cars.

‘Most of the victims were found in areas where it’s unlikely that they could have been hit by a car.

‘A blunt force trauma could be anything – a hard kick, hit with a baseball bat, or thrown against a wall.

‘Our manhunt continues. We’ve seen evidence and patterns of behaviour which we believe suggests that the police are wrong to conclude that foxes and cars are probably responsible.

‘We were told in person today and shown all the work that they’ve done to reach that decision.

‘But we think that they’ve ultimately based their findings on the professional opinion of one pathologist.

Bertie, 12, whose headless body was found in Surrey in what was believed to be the work of a cat killer 

Bertie, 12, whose headless body was found in Surrey in what was believed to be the work of a cat killer 

‘There’s no way that foxes could have targeted all those cats supposedly initially struck by cars or that this is all that can be behind this incredible spate of mutilations mostly in the Croydon area. 

‘These cats have been found with their heads and tails removed, some with a sharp implement. Most of the victims were found in areas where it’s unlikely that they could have been hit by a car. Although these animals were killed by a blunt force trauma, that could mean any number of things.

‘We’re not just saying this for the sake of it or to scare people. A veterinary pathologist has carried out 25 post-mortem investigations since this case was launched in November 2015.’   

In 2016, SNARL arranged 25 post-mortem examinations on cats that had been found mutilated.  These were conducted by a veterinary pathologist. 

The cause of death was found to be blunt force trauma, such as collisions with vehicles. 

The mutilations were found to have occurred after death, with some thought to have been caused by a sharp implement.

On the basis of these examinations, six cases of cat mutilation were deemed suspicious and the Met’s duty to investigate was established due to the corroborative information in terms of allegations from SNARL and initial veterinary pathology results.

Officers collated more than 400 additional reports made to the Met by members of the public or animal charities of cat mutilations across London and surrounding counties.  

No evidence of human involvement was found in any of the reported cases. 

In three instances where CCTV was obtained, footage showed foxes carrying bodies or body-parts of cats. 

Croydon-educated actor Martin Clunes was among those to weigh in on the mystery, writing a letter to detectives urging them to catch the culprit

Boudicca (right) and Tony (left) are adamant that the cat killer does exist despite what the police said today 

Boudicca (right) and Tony (left) are adamant that the cat killer does exist despite what the police said today 

He wrote in February 2016: ‘I read with horror that some of the cats had been decapitated and dismembered – this is the stuff of nightmares.

‘The local community is understandably distraught and frightened. No-one feels safe while this sick individual is on the loose.’ 

Similar cases were investigated by Hertfordshire Constabulary. Dr Henny Martineau, the Head of Veterinary Forensic Pathology at the Royal Veterinary College, carried out post-mortem examinations on three cats and two rabbits in June 2018. 

She concluded that the mutilations had been caused by predation and/or scavenging, and highlighted that fox DNA had been found around the wound sites on all five bodies. 

The veterinary pathologist who carried out the original post-mortems conducted re-examinations on the six bodies in August 2018. 

He found puncture wounds not found previously on some of the animals and concluded that some had been potentially scavenged.

In a statement yesterday the Metropolitan Police said is urging the public to contact the RSPCA in the first instance where they have concerns about animal welfare.

‘Additional forensic tests were carried out, and these did not show any clear difference between marks on the bodies of cats that had been scavenged and the cats whose mutilations had been deemed suspicious,’ the force said.

‘Officers were aware of a spate of reported mutilations some 20 years ago which were eventually attributed to predation by wildlife. However the evidence initially provided by the six post-mortem examinations warranted further investigation of the more recent spate.’

Massive, also a victim of the notorious cat killer, was found dead in East Sussex

Massive, also a victim of the notorious cat killer, was found dead in East Sussex

It was today announced that every one of the cases of cat mutilation will be recorded as ‘no crime’.

Frontline Policing Commander Amanda Pearson said: ‘On average, the Met receives over 1,000 calls each month relating to animals and animal welfare.

‘We understand the reason for this – people trust the police to help them when they suspect others have done wrong, fear for their own safety or simply are facing situations that they are unable to handle themselves.

‘We will always assist the public in an emergency, but I would urge people to report concerns relating to animal welfare in the first instance to the RSPCA.

‘The decision was made to allocate a large number of similar reports of mutilated cats to the officers who were investigating the initial spate of such allegations. In particular, they were following up the six suspicious cases identified by the post-mortem examinations.

‘While this increased the workload of those officers, it significantly reduced the resources that would have been required for different officers in different units to record and assess each allegation separately.

‘It is this collating of reports that enabled officers to work with experts and reach the conclusion that no further police investigations are required into any of the allegations relating to mutilated cats.’  

Some still believe a killer is still at large. Samantha Glass and her daughter, Tabitha Brown, were devastated to find their cat, Harley, dead at the family home.

Ms Glass has called the decision to close the investigation ‘unbelievable’.

Millie (pictured) was killed at Hayling Island in December 2017

Millie (pictured) was killed at Hayling Island in December 2017

‘Words fail me – this is a massive fail on all accounts,’ she said. ‘We need victims to get together to march against the police. What else can we do? There is countless evidence from the Met saying cats have been mutilated by a clean slice.

‘There have been decapitated heads lying across London; what happens when the killer drops back the tail to the doorstep?’

She claimed that bodies of her cats had been bludgeoned and decapitated – before being left in a ‘signature position’, writing on Facebook: ‘I hope you’re laughing Harley… They think a fox murdered you… One with opposing thumbs who could use a mallot and a blade. Closed the case on your birthday!’

The mother-of-two said an ‘immediate backlash’ will come against the Met and has started a social media campaign in protest.

She added: ‘The person that did this is still out there, to the sick and twisted individual who did this – we are coming for you.’

Another pet owner who lost her cat to the ‘killer’ branded the Met Police decision to the close the inquiry ‘total bull****.’

Neenie Sadler said: ‘This is all because the Met don’t want to put any more funding into this investigation – it is a cop out.

‘They haven’t even bothered to contact the family’s of the victims to let them know – me being one of them.

‘I’m disgusted and outraged, I have had some one of my fur babies stand right next to a fox with no signs of aggression.’

Writing on Facebook, Dani Isaacs branded the police’s theory ‘absolute sh**e!’ while  Sherrie Wainman said of the supposed cat killer: ‘That evil individual will get what is coming to them…’       

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk