Brighton cat killer jailed for over five years after spate of attacks

30 July 2021, 11:31 | Updated: 30 July 2021, 15:00

File photo dated 23/01/20 of Steve Bouquet leaving Brighton Magistrates Court.
File photo dated 23/01/20 of Steve Bouquet leaving Brighton Magistrates Court. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Brighton cat killer Steve Bouquet has been jailed for over five years for criminal damage, following multiple killings in the area.

Steve Bouquet, 54, from Brighton, was jailed for criminal damage for five years and three months at Hove Crown Court.

The former security guard carried out an eight month campaign of brutal knife attacks between October 2018 and May 2019 in the East Sussex city - killing nine cats and injuring a further seven.

In the end, it was CCTV set up by an owner of a dead cat that caught Bouquet on video.

He was convicted of 16 offences of criminal damage, relating to the cats and possession of a knife.

During his trial, jurors heard accounts from multiple cat owners who had found their pets bleeding on their doorsteps.

In his police interview, which was read out in court, Bouquet told officers that all he knew about the cat killings was what he had read in the newspapers and online.

He told police he was "no threat to animals", despite a photo of a dead cat being found on his phone, the court heard.

Read more: Alleged Brighton 'cat killer' told police he was 'no danger to animals', court hears

A knife, with feline blood on it and his DNA on the handle, was also found during a search of Bouquet's home.

Mobile phone evidence placed him in the vicinity of many of the stabbings during the time they took place too, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

"This has been a tragic case for all the owners involved," Jayne Cioffi from the CPS said.

"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."

Sentencing Bouquet, Judge Jeremy Gold QC said his behaviour was "cruel, it was sustained and it struck at the very heart of family life".

He added: "It is important that everyone understands that cats are domestic pets but they are more than that. They are effectively family members.

"They are much loved by the adults and children who live with and care for them.

"Cats and all domestic animals are a source of joy and support to their owners, especially during lockdown.

Judge Gold said he took Bouquet's previous good character and military service into account when deciding on the sentence, with him having been a Royal Navy gunner serving for 22 years.

Some of the cat owners were at Hove Crown Court on Friday to see the 54-year-old imprisoned.

One owner - Lucy Kenward - fought back tears, explaining she could not understand why someone would kill cats.

"Cosmo was my first cat as an adult. I had him for eight years before he was killed," she said.

"I never thought he would end up being murdered by a person. It still seems quite unbelievable."

Meanwhile, Stewart Montgomery, owner of cat Hendricks - one of the pets killed - said he was glad to see Bouquet jailed.

"He’s a scumbag. I’ve got no other word for him," he said.

"I was in disbelief that you would do that to an animal.

"You think about it a lot and you go ‘what is the motive?’ – but there isn’t one. There’s something deeply wrong with the bloke."

Read more: Brighton 'cat killer' trial: Owners found bleeding pets on doorsteps

After the sentencing Sussex Police DI Chris Thompson said: "The impact on victims in the community has been great.

"The suffering of those animals is obviously really concerning.

"As you’ve heard in the court the judge has had to basically make his own guidelines because these instances are so rare.

"The maximum sentence is 10 years for criminal damage and I think five years is a really good sentence."

DI Thompson said "weeding out" incidents where animals had died naturally was a focus of their investigation.

He said detectives worked carefully, carrying out extensive CCTV inquiries after the reports from distraught pet owners.