Steve Bouquet, 54, killed nine cats and injured seven more
A man has been found guilty of carrying out a campaign of cat killings in Brighton.
On Wednesday a jury at Chichester Crown Court found him guilty of 16 offences of criminal damage, in relation to the cats, and possession of a knife.
The campaign of gruesome attacks took place between October 2018 and June 2019. During that period, police received a spike in reports of felines being killed or injured and in suspicious circumstances but were unable to identify a subject despite their efforts.
The court heard how Bouquet, dubbed the “Brighton cat killer”, was able to move through the city unseen and unheard and he knifed people’s beloved pets.
Nine cats – Hendrix, Tommy, Hannah Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie and Cosmo – were killed and another seven were injured.
Detectives had been stumped until a breakthrough in the case came when a CCTV system set up by an owner of a different slain cat appeared to capture a fresh attack on camera, a court was told.
During the trial, jurors heard accounts from several “shocked” cat owners who had found their pets bleeding on their doorsteps.
After the verdicts were read out, Judge Jeremy Gold QC said: “I suggest it is only really during lockdown it has been particularly clear how much many of us who have pets rely on them for companionship and comfort.
“One can only imagine the distress that was caused to the owners of those various cats in this case at the very thought of having a knife plunged into their beloved pet.”
Prosecutor Rowan Jenkins said: “He made a single mistake but that was all that was needed to expose him.”
Bouquet had previously pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of criminal damage in relation to cats and one count of possession of a knife. He did not appear at Chichester Crown Court on Tuesday and the trial went ahead in his absence.
In his police interview 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” – but a photo of a dead cat was found on his phone, the court heard.
He will be sentenced at a later date.