A SECURITY guard stabbed more than a dozen cats in a terrifying killing spree that left pet owners distraught, a court has heard.
Steve Bouquet, 54, from Brighton, approached the pets close to their homes and initially showed them affection.
All pictures of Steve Bouquet are from a different hearingCredit: EDDIE MITCHELL
Bouquet is being tried in his absence at Chichester Crown CourtCredit: eddie mitchell
But then he reached into his rucksack and pulled out a knife and stabbed them with “force” causing fatal or serious injuries, Chichester Crown Court heard.
He then walked off leaving the family pets, who suffered catastrophic injuries, to crawl home where many later died from their injuries.
A wave of cat stabbings swept central Brighton between October 2018 and June 2019, leaving pet owners traumatised and upset.
Bouquet, a security guard at Churchill Shopping Centre, is accused of killing nine cats and seriously injuring seven others.
He has been charged with 16 offences of criminal damage between October 2018 and June 2019 and also unlawfully possessing a Leatherman multi-tool in public.
The security guard has also been charged with criminal damage as under current legislation, cats and other animals are deemed to be property.
Bouquet, who has not attended his trial and is being tried in his absence, has denied the charges.
Bouquet faces 16 charges of criminal damageCredit: eddie mitchell
Rowan Jenkins, prosecuting, told Chichester Crown Court the stabbings began in October 2018.
He said police launched an investigation after reports domestic cats were being “deliberately stabbed” in the street while close to their homes.
He said: “Some owners found that their cats were still alive and were able to take timely action to save them by rushing them to the vets. Not all were able to find them in time or indeed save them.”
He said vets treating the cats ruled out car accidents or falling from trees as the possible cause of the injuries.
He said: “These were penetrative and clean wounds which in the opinion of the vets was caused by a sharp knife. Someone was deliberately inflicting these injuries.
“Whoever was responsible was not just causing suffering to animals themselves but caused understandable trauma to owners which were affected them emotionally and financially.”
Mr Jenkins told the jury that for almost a year police were clueless over the identity of the cat killer as more than a dozen feline victims were stabbed.
And then by chance in May 2019 Bouquet was allegedly caught on a CCTV camera attacking Hendrix, a nine-month-old black kitten, who was sitting on a wall near his house.
The camera had been installed by Alan Levy, the owner of the second feline victim, Hannah, who died in October 2018.
Bouquet has denied all the chargesCredit: EDDIE MITCHELL
Mr Jenkins said that in footage you can see a passerby stop and begin to show affection to Hendrix.
He told the jury: “He appears to show affection but as he goes he seems to take something from his rucksack and you will see a sudden jerk form the defendant’s arm which is the moment he stabs Hendrix with force.
“Hendrix immediately gets to his feet and flees to his home. The defendant is seen to rearrange his rucksack and walks past the camera.”
However, the court heard that just minutes later he returns and glances directly at the CCTV camera which had caught the incident and repeatedly returns in the following two days to look at the camera again.
When Hendrix’s owners saw that he was bleeding when he returned home they rushed him to a vet.
He was bleeding heavily from both sides of his abdomen and immediately underwent surgery where the vet found he had lacerations to both kidneys. Efforts were made to save him but he later died.
When his owner, Stewart Montgomery, discovered his neighbour, Mr Levy, had a CCTV camera trained on the street he approached him and the pair viewed the footage of the stabbing.
Two days later, Mr Levy saw Bouquet walking past his house again on his live CCTV and immediately called police and officers who had been hunting the alleged cat killer for almost a year attended.
Bouquet was stopped some streets away, searched and the Leatherman was found in his possession.
He was arrested and taken into custody and later charged with the spate of stabbings.