Brighton cat killer jailed for 5 years
A security guard has been jailed for more than five years for stabbing 16 cats in a series of night-time attacks.
Steven Bouquet killed nine cats around Brighton between October 2018 and June 2019. Seven more were injured.
The 54-year-old had denied 16 counts of criminal damage and possession of a knife but was found guilty in June.
Bouquet, who has been dubbed the "Brighton cat killer", was sentenced to five years and three months in prison at Hove Crown Court.
Before Bouquet's sentencing a number of the cats' owners told the court about the impact of the killings.
Catherine Mattock said she could not stop thinking about her cat, Alan, "dead but warm in my arms, covered in blood".
She also spoke of his "playful innocent nature", and imagined him "running over thinking he was going to get a stroke, and instead getting stabbed".
Emma Sullivan told the court she had found her cat Gizmo lying dead on the pavement by her front door.
"I was completely distraught. I was wailing in tears, completely inconsolable," she said.
Lucy Kenward said her cat, Cosmo, had not been insured and she spent £5,000 on vet bills trying to save him.
"Cosmo was very much part of the family, I had had him eight years before he was killed.
"I feel a definite sense of guilt over my decision to let him outside."
Sentencing Bouquet, Judge Judge Jeremy Gold QC told him he would serve five years for the attacks on the cats, and three months, to be served concurrently for possession of a knife.
He was given an extra three months for breaching his bail conditions after he failed to attend Chichester Crown Court for his trial.
The judge told him be would serve half his sentence in prison before being released on licence.
He said Bouquet's behaviour had been "cruel".
"It was sustained and it struck at the very heart of family life."
Bouquet had denied the charges and told the police in an interview he was "no threat to animals".
Sussex Police said the breakthrough in the hunt for the cat killer came in May 2019 when nine-month old Hendrix was stabbed by a knife in Crown Gardens.
His owners were at home when Hendrix returned home bleeding heavily from a single knife wound.
When they followed the trail of blood they noticed a CCTV camera, which had been set up by a neighbour whose own cat had also been attacked a year earlier.
The camera had captured Bouquet stopping to stroke the cat before taking something from his rucksack, police said.
Hendrix fled from the scene but died later of his injuries.
Photos of two of the cats were later found on Bouquet's phone, and a knife with feline DNA on the blade was discovered at his home.
Det Insp Chris Thompson said: "His laptop computer showed that he had repeatedly accessed a website in relation to lost cats in the city, paying particular attention to a cat that was killed.
"He had also viewed numerous dog killing cat-related videos, and two photographs of a dead cat in a front garden, taken at different times of the day, were recovered from his devices and believed to have been taken by him."