Cat owners watch in court as security guard, 52, accused of stabbing their pets to death under cover of darkness faces 16 charges of criminal damage
- Steve Bouquet allegedly stabbed pets to death in street in middle of the night
- Family pets across Brighton suffered catastrophic injuries between 2018-2019
- Security guard Bouquet, 52, denied 16 offences of criminal damage against cats
A security guard is set to go on trial charged with killing nine cats which were found stabbed to death.
Steve Bouquet allegedly struck under cover of darkness, approaching pets in the street before stabbing and disembowelling them.
The 52-year-old from Brighton appeared before Hove Crown Court this morning and denied 16 offences of criminal damage, all against cats, between October 2018 and June 2019.
Steve Bouquet arriving at Hove Crown Court this morning where he faces 16 counts of criminal damage, relating to the deaths of nine cats, and injuries to seven others
Seanin Mouland with Samson, who was among the seven injured cats in the charge sheet
Distraught owners lost beloved pets and faced thousands of pounds in vet’s fees after their cats were stabbed
The cats which died include:
Hendrix in May 2019, costing his owner Stewart Montgomery £1,662.93.
Tommy, who belonged to Carolyn Green, in November 2018 and the damage was worth £1,799.28.
Hannah, who belonged to Marianna Penturo, in October 2018 and the damage was worth £150
Alan, who belonged to Katerine Maddock, was injured in February 2019 and the damage was worth £135
Nancy, who belonged to Jeff Carter, was injured in March 2019 and the damage was worth £3,214
Gizmo, who belonged to Emma O’Sullivan, was injured in Ditchling Rise in March 2019 and the damage was worth £384.40
Kyo, who belonged to Paul Tofts, was injured May 2019 and the value of the damage was unknown
Ollie, who belonged to Sarah McKenzie, was injured in May 2019 and the damage was worth £384.40
Cosmo, who belonged to Lucy Kenward, was injured in June 2019 and the damage was worth £5,056.44.
The family pets, which all suffered catastrophic injuries, were then left to crawl home where nine later died from their injuries.
And the seven injured cats were named on the charge sheet as Alistair, Wheatley, Rigby, Samson, Jasper, Maggie, Gideon.
Bouquet has been charged with criminal damage because, under current legislation, cats and other animals are deemed as property.
He is was also charged with having a Leatherman knife in a public place.
Prosecutors did consider whether to charge him with animal cruelty but the circumstances of the case meant this charge was inappropriate because the defendant is not the owner of the cats.
Animal cruelty is a less serious offence and would attract a lower sentence.
Several members of the public, including some of the cat owners, watched the proceedings from the public gallery.
Fear gripped Brighton last year as the death toll of pets killed and maimed reached 25.
Pet owners accused the police of failing to take the killings seriously and Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, called on officers to redouble their efforts.
In response police launched Operation Diverge, to investigate the deaths of up to 25 cats which had suffered similar injuries.
Kyo, who belonged to Paul Tofts, was among the nine dead cats listed on the charge sheet
Bouquet was arrested in June and charged in December last year.
Ravi Dogra, defending, asked the judge to keep the same bail conditions for Bouquet.
Rowan Jenkins, prosecuting, told the court the trial was likely to take two weeks and Judge Paul Tain bailed Bouquet to stand trial on Monday, September 14.
In 2014, reports that a ‘Croydon cat killer’ was on the loose surfaced – but later dismissed when Scotland Yard discovered foxes were to blame.
The force launched an investigation called Operation Takahe in 2015, which looked at the mutilation of more than 250 cats.
At the time, post mortems were conducted on the animals, which had been found with their heads and tails removed.
But forensic examinations, DNA tests and the studying of CCTV all led police to believe that the attacks were carried out by foxes and not humans.