A man has been charged with 16 attacks on cats in Brighton. Nine of the cats died.
Security guard Steve Bouquet, 52, is due to appear in court next month after being formally charged yesterday (Sunday 22 December).
Sussex Police said this afternoon: “A man will appear in court next month charged in connection with Operation Diverge, the investigation into a number of cat deaths in the city of Brighton and Hove.
“The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) has authorised the charge of Steve Bouquet, 52, a security guard, from the London Road area of Brighton.
“On Sunday (22 December) he was charged with 16 counts of criminal damage.
“This related to the wounding and killing of cats in the city between (Tuesday) 2 October 2018 and (Saturday) 1 June 2019.
“He has also been charged with possessing a knife blade or sharp pointed article in a public place on (Sunday) 2 June 2019.
“He has been bailed to attend Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 23 January 2020.”
South east district crown prosecutor Sally Lakin said: “Following a spate of attacks on cats in the Brighton area, the Crown Prosecution Service 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. Seven were seriously injured.
“The allegations relate to incidents which took place between (Tuesday) 2 October 2018 and (Saturday) 1 June 2019.
“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.”
The CPS said: “We carefully considered which charges would be the most appropriate in this case and concluded that the defendant should be charged with criminal damage.
“This does not in any way detract from the seriousness of the offence or the great distress these incidents will have caused the owners of the cats.
“However, under current legislation, cats and other animals are deemed as property.
“Prosecutors did consider whether to charge animal cruelty but the circumstances of the case meant this was inappropriate, as the defendant is not the owner of the cats.
“In addition, animal cruelty is a summary-only offence and therefore would attract a lesser sentence than criminal damage.”