British 'Cat-Killer' Sentenced for 'Cruel' Stabbing of 16 Pets

A string of horrific crimes has resulted in the sentencing of 54-year-old Steven Bouquet of Brighton, England.

Known as the "Brighton cat killer," Bouquet was accused of stabbing 16 cats—nine of which were killed—between October 2018 and June 2019, reported BBC News. According to the news outlet, he denied all 16 of the criminal damage charges leveled against him but was found guilty regardless and sentenced to five years in prison.

The U.K. has several laws in place to protect animals against abuse and cruelty, including the expansive Animal Welfare Act of 2006. However, as explained by the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS], in instances where the defendant is accused of killing or injuring a pet that does not belong to them, they will frequently be charged with "criminal damage," as Bouquet was. In those cases, the pet "may...be classed as property capable of being 'damaged or destroyed' under the terms of the Criminal Damage Act 1971."

When the cats' deaths were first reported in 2018, the Sussex Police began to investigate potential foul play. Explained Detective Inspector Chris Thompson in a report on the case: "We needed to determine whether there was human involvement in these cases and submitted two cats for post mortem examinations by a specialist vet at the Royal Veterinary College. It was found that one of the cats had been stabbed by a sharp implement deliberately, but the other had too much surgical intervention to make a definite conclusion."

"However, there were no witnesses to the savage acts and there was no indication as to who was responsible," added Thompson.

The case's "breakthrough" came in May 2019, when Bouquet was eventually caught on camera committing one of his crimes. Stewart Montgomery, whose kitten, Hendrix, was murdered, reportedly spotted a CCTV camera overlooking a trail of blood near his home, left over from the crime. His neighbor had placed the camera there after their cat had been killed the year prior.

Cat Killer
Known as the "Brighton cat killer," 54-year-old Steven Bouquet was accused of stabbing 16 cats. Bouquet, left, was found guilty despite denying the charges. Stewart Montgomery, right, with his kitten, Hendrix, who was killed after an attack. Sussex Police

The footage is said to show Bouquet petting the cat before allegedly taking something out of his backpack and making a "sudden jerk." "This is the moment we say that the defendant stabs Hendrix with some force," explained prosecutor Rowan Jenkins, reported The Guardian.

Additional evidence included a knife with both feline blood and Bouquet's DNA on it, location tracking that matched his cell phone data with the time and place of several stabbings, and a picture of a dead cat on his phone. The Sussex Police added that "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."

Judge Jeremy Gold QC called the killings "cruel," noting that Bouquet's spree "was sustained and...struck at the very heart of family life."

Traumatized pet owners, meanwhile, were glad Bouquet will no longer be able to harm helpless animals.

"I'm pleased his trial is over but I really hope that while he's serving his time, he is made to get psychiatric help so he never hurts an animal or human for the rest of his life," explained actor Terry Mynott to The Guardian. "I've already lost so it is hard to feel anything toward him. The worst that could happen happened."

Stateside, similar cases have made headlines in recent weeks. In June, ex-animal rescuer Michelline Toulouse was accused of hoarding at least 50 cats, 10 of which were found already dead, in cruel, unlivable conditions.

Saving Sage Animal Rescue, which was Toulouse's former employer, took in the cats rescued from her care. Said their president, Gina Vlasek: "It was just the most horrific thing that you could ever imagine. No food, there was urine in the water bowls and at least one of the cats died within the last 12 hours and was eaten halfway down."

She added: "She had every opportunity not to do this to the animals that she claimed that she loved. This isn't love, this is selfish."