Man stands trial accused of killing cats in Sussex
A security guard stabbed nine cats to death and injured another seven, a court has heard.
The trial of Steve Bouquet, who is accused of being ‘the Brighton cat killer’, started without him after he failed to turn up at court for a second day.
He had previously pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of damaging and destroying property and one of having a knife in a public place in Brighton, Sussex.
His Honour Judge Jeremy Gold QC told jurors at Lewes Crown Court in Chichester not to speculate about his absence from court.
“It’s an unusual case in that he is not here,” he said. “The fact that he is not here does not affect your task.
“You must not speculate about why he is not here.
“He did answer some questions when interviewed by police but he cannot be cross examined for obvious reasons.
“The case involves attacks on a number of cats in central Brighton.
“Some resulted in the deaths of the cats involved.”
Rowan Jenkins for the Crown told the jury Mr Bouquet faces 16 counts of attacking cats in central Brighton between October 2018 and June 2019.
Nine pets died following vicious attacks with a knife or knives, the court heard.
Hannah, Tommy, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie, Hendrix and Cosmo were all killed.
Another seven animals survived – Wheatley, Alistair, Rigby, Gideon, Samson, Jasper and Maggie.
A knife found at Mr Bouquet’s home address was found to have cat blood on it, the court heard.
“Blood found on the blade and sheath was not human, but feline,” Mr Jenkins said.
“The prosecution say that the finding of this knife in the defendant’s possession is very significant.
“It is most likely to be the weapon used to stab some or all of the cats in this case.”
Mr Bouquet, 54, was arrested following a major police investigation, the court heard.
Police made a breakthrough in the case when CCTV picked up Mr Bouquet interacting with Hendrix, Mr Jenkins said.
“In the early evening of 31st May 2019 Stewart Montgomery and his partner Agatha Altwegg were at home in Brighton,” he said.
“At around 7.50pm their nine month old black shorthair with white chest patch called Hendrix, came running in.
“At first Miss Altweg thought nothing of it, but she then saw blood where he had been sitting and when looked closer found he was bleeding heavily.”
Hendrix could not be saved and the vet who treated him said she had never seen a case like it, Mr Jenkins said.
Neighbours who had installed CCTV after their own cat was attacked found footage of Mr Bouquet stroking Hendrix.
Mr Jenkins said: “He appears to show affection to the cat by stroking it.
“Facing sideways, he seems to take something from his rucksack.
“As the cat lies down in front of him, you will see there is then a sudden jerk from the defendant’s arm.
“This, is the moment we say when the defendant stabs Hendrix with some force.
“Immediately, he reacts by getting to his feet and fleeing to his home.
“The defendant is seen to rearrange his rucksack and continues to walk North.”
A mobile phone expert will give evidence about movements of the defendant recorded by the handset which match up to the dates and times of the attacks, Mr Jenkins said.
“Sometimes owners, or those caring for them whilst owners were away, found their cats still alive and were able to take timely action to try to save them by rushing them to their vets,” he said.
“Not all were able to find them in time.”
Vets in Brighton were presented with wounded cats, Mr Jenkins said.
“Some found themselves dealing with more than one case,” he said.
“These were penetrating and clean wounds which, in the considered opinion of the vets, were caused by a sharp instrument such as a knife.
“Someone was deliberately inflicting these injuries.
“They were not minor.
“Despite their best efforts, many of the animals could not be saved.”
The cat killer not only caused suffering to the pets but trauma to their owners, Mr Jenkins said.
“Many of whom were very greatly affected both emotionally and financially.
“Such actions had a consequence to wider neighbourhoods as news of the attacks spread,” Mr Jenkins said.
The trial at Lewes Crown Court in Chichester is expected to last at least a week.