Cat killer found GUILTY: Security guard, 54, is convicted of killing nine felines after stabbing at least 16 pets during eight-month Brighton rampage
- Security guard Steve Bouquet, 54, killed nine cats in spate of attacks
- He was found guilty of stabbing seven cats in just one month, killing two of them
- Bouquet, of Brighton, was also charged with 16 criminal damage offences
Steve Bouquet killed nine cats and stabbed seven others in spate of attacks
A former security guard and Royal Navy seaman nicknamed The Brighton Cat Killer has been found guilty of an eight month campaign slaying pets in the resort.
Serial cat killer Steve Bouquet, 54, stabbed at least 16 pet cats and potentially many more.
He killed nine cats and seven more he left for dead survived.
Authorities fear Bouquet could be responsible for other possible cat attacks in the city.
The former shopping centre security guard was tried in his absence after failing to appear at court.
Police apprehended him in Brighton on Monday night after a tip off from a member of the public who saw him drinking and behaving oddly in a city park.
At court, one owner, Professor Paul Tofts (pictured left), told of the moment he came across his pet Kyo (right) ‘by accident’ lying dead down the side of his house in May 2019
Bouquet was charged with 16 offences of criminal damage between October 2018 and June 2019, as under current legislation, cats and other animals are deemed to be property. Nine of the pets were killed, seven were injured
His location was kept secret from the jury who took three hours to find him guilty.
Bouquet will be arrested when doctors have finished assessing his physical and mental state.
Lewes Crown Court in Chichester heard Bouquet had pictures of the cats he attacked on his phone.
When they searched his flat, police found a knife stained with feline blood in his kitchen.
The court heard that vets treating the cats had ruled out car accidents or falling from trees as the possible cause of the injuries. Pictured: Samson, who was injured
The wave of stabbings swept through central Brighton between October 2018 and June 2019, leaving pet owners upset. Pictured: Bouquet outside court in 2019
The cats Bouquet killed on his slaying spree
Phone data placed him at or near the scene when cats were attacked.
Bouquet obsessively searched online for coverage of his animal cruelty.
He copied reports from Brighton daily paper The Argus and The Guardian onto his phone as news of his crimes spread.
Bouquet was convicted of damaging and destroying property and could be jailed.
His Honour Judge Jeremy Gold QC described the attacks as very unpleasant and said they had a significant impact on the owners who relied on their cats for companionship and comfort.
‘The very thought of having a knife plunged into their beloved pet is a serious matter,’ the judge said.
‘I take a very serious view of this case.
‘There will be consequences,’ the judge said.
Police were baffled and The Brighton Cat Killer was an invisible man until he was revealed by a single error, the court heard.
Rowan Jenkins for the prosecution said: ‘Great care was taken by Mr Bouquet to be and remain the invisible man.
‘There were no clues left at all and nobody witnessed the attacks, which often happened after the hours of darkness,’ Mr Jenkins said.
‘But on May 31, 2019, he made a mistake.
Pictured: Nancy, who belonged to Jeff Carter in March 2019
Pictured: Alan, who belonged to Katherine Maddock in February 2019
Bouquet, who is being tried in his absence, has denied the charges. Pictured: Samson
Fantasist loner who became cat killer
With his bald head, silver earring and black leather jacket, Steve Bouquet was an imposing figure on the streets of Brighton.
The stocky former Royal Navy sailor turned security guard had also worked as a bouncer in the city’s pubs and bars for nine years.
A lover of rock music, he liked to sing Guns n’Roses songs while he walked around the city as a way of ensuring people kept their distance.
But to neighbours and work colleagues he was regarded as a ‘strange loner’ with no friends or family.
He lived a solitary life in a cramped basement flat close in a student area close to the centre of Brighton.
Bouquet could regularly be seen walking to and from the shopping centre where he worked as a security guard.
He lived alone has never married and did not have a girlfriend or a long-term partner.
Bouquet told officers he had never got married because: ‘I didn’t get round to it.’
He told officers he was a rock fan and claimed to have more than £4,000 worth of music stored on his phone.
‘I like to listen to one song and sing along,’ he told police officers. ‘It lets people know to keep away.’
A former security guard at Churchill Shopping centre in Brighton said: ‘He was nice enough but he was a bit strange and a bit of a loner.
‘He said he was in the Royal Navy when he was younger and would tell anyone who would listen to him. People thought he was a bit of a bullsh***ter. He liked to impress people and play the big guy.’
Neighbours described him as an ‘odd and peculiar man’ who was generally quite friendly.
One resident said: ‘He was quite strange looking with his distinctive bald head and black leather jacket.
‘Also he dressed in the same outfit all the time – leather jacket, jeans and white shirt or T-shirt and a silver earring. It was like a uniform.’
Another neighbour said: ‘He was always on his own. I never saw him with any friends at all. He appeared to be friendless and he lived alone in the flat.
‘Apart from that he seemed like a normal guy.
He would say hello if he walked past but nothing more really.’
‘He made a single mistake but that was all that was needed to expose him.’
A camera fixed to the outside of the house where another victim lived picked up a man attacking a cat called Hendrix.
The CCTV showed Mr Bouquet stabbing Hendrix, Mr Jenkins said.
Attacks followed a strikingly unusual pattern, Mr Jenkins said.
‘He had not yet been caught at this time and he was still invisible,’ Mr Jenkins said.
Bouquet was arrested on suspicion of attacking the cats when police made a breakthrough in the case.
CCTV picked up Mr Bouquet interacting with a cat called Hendrix, Mr Jenkins said.
‘In the early evening of 31st May 2019 Stewart Montgomery and his partner Agatha Altwegg were at home in Brighton.
‘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 save and the vet who treated him said she had never seen a case like it, Mr Jenkins said.
‘In her opinion, this was, in fact, a single wound with a blade penetrating from the left side through to the right – driven straight through.’
Neighbours who had installed CCTV after their own cat was attacked found footage of a 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,’ Mr Jenkins said.
Former Royal Navy able seaman Steve Bouquet killed nine cats and injuring seven more in Brighton between October 2018 and June 2019 in central Brighton.
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 survived.
Vet bills for some owners ran into thousands, the court heard.
‘Despite their best efforts, many of the animals could not be saved,’ Mr Jenkins said.
Bouquet not only caused suffering to the pets but trauma to their owners as concerns over a serial cat killer spread.
Bouquet, from Brighton, will be sentenced later.
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