Brighton 'cat killer': Suspect charged over attacks on 16 animals

A 52-year-old security guard will be in court next month to face criminal charges related to cat deaths

Police launched Operation Diverge probe into attacks on cats
Police launched Operation Diverge probe into attacks on cats

A 52-year-old man has been charged over a series of attacks on 16 cats – which left nine of the animals dead – across Brighton and Hove.

Steven Bouquet, 52, a security guard from Brighton, has been charged with 16 counts of criminal damage related to the attacks, said Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Nine cats died, while seven others were seriously injured, in a series of incidents reported between October 2018 and June 2019.

Sussex Police led the Operation Diverge investigation into the wounding and killing of cats on the East Sussex coast.

CPS district Crown Prosecutor Sally Lakin said: “Following a spate of attacks on cats in the Brighton area, the CPS has authorised Sussex Police to charge Steven Bouquet with 16 charges of criminal damage, relating to attacks on 16 cats, nine of which were killed and seven were seriously injured.”

She added: “This is a complex case and this decision was made following a careful review of all of the evidence presented to us.

“Criminal proceedings against this defendant are now active and he has a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said: “Mr Bouquet has also been charged with possessing a knife blade or sharp pointed article in a public place on 2 June, 2019.

“He has been bailed to attend Brighton Magistrates Court on 23 January, 2020.”

The CPS said it carefully considered which charges would be most appropriate. Prosecutors did consider whether to charge the suspect with animal cruelty, but it was deemed inappropriate as the defendant is not the owner of the cats. In addition, animal cruelty would attract a lesser sentence than criminal damage.

The investigation in Brighton followed the closure of a Metropolitan Police probe into more than 400 cat deaths across London and the home counties attributed to the “Croydon cat killer”.

The Met said that there was no evidence of a crime and put the deaths down to car collisions and attacks by wild animals.

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