A Brighton man accused of stabbing 16 cats was caught on CCTV installed by the owner of one of his previous victims, a court heard today.
Steve Bouquet, 54, who worked as a security guard at Churchill Square, was filmed stabbing a cat called Hendrix on May 31, 2019 by a camera installed by CCTV engineer Alan Levy.
Mr Levy had installed the camera outside his house in Crown Gardens in the North Laine after his own cat, Hannah, had been stabbed the previous October. Neither cat survived.
Prosecuting at Chichester Crown Court, Rowan Jenkins said Hendrix’s owners, Stewart Montgomery and Agatha Altwegg, had found Mr Levy’s camera after following a trail of blood left by the cat when it fled home after being stabbed.
He said: “[Mr Bouquet] appears to show affection to the cat seemingly stroking it. but you will see from the recording, an this is a recording that will be in evidence . . . you can see that as he goes down to the cat Facing sideways, he seems to take something from his rucksack.
“As the cat lying down in front of him, you will not actually be able to make out any weapon but you can see a sudden jerk from the defendant’s arm.
“This is the moment when, we say, the defendant stabs Hendrix with some force.
“Immediately, he reacts by getting to his feet and disappearing under a gate which is his home. The defendant is seen to rearrange his rucksack and continues to walk north.
“As he passes the gateway to Hendrix’s home, where he’s just running, he in turn glances in.”
Mr Jenkins said Bouquet was also captured walking along the same street, both minutes after the stabbing and the following day, apparently rattled by the existence of cameras which might have caught him in the act.
All the CCTV was sent to police, and meanwhile Mr Levy regularly checked his live CCTV in case the killer returned.
On June 2, he saw Bouquet, and alerted police. Police investigator Daniel Cummins took the call as he happened to be walking out of Brighton Station, and was able to locate Bouquet in nearby Frederick Place, where he was arrested.
Bouquet was wearing the same rucksack seen in the CCTV, and was also carrying a Leatherman multi-tool with a 2.6inch locking knife.
His phone was examined, and although it didn’t have location data for every day, digital forensic consultant Stephen Fisher-Davies was able to match what was found to times and locations where nine other cats had been attacked.
His home in Rose Hill Gardens was searched, and police found a knife with Bouquet’s DNA on the handle and traces of cat blood on the blade and sheath.
During a series of lengthy police interviews, Bouquet consistently said that he was not responsible for the cats’ injuries. Mr Jenkins told the jury it is up to the prosecution to prove he did.
Mr Jenkins added: “By targeting pets, whoever was responsible was not of course just causing suffering to the animals themselves, you can imagine the acts caused understandable trauma to their owners – many of whom were very greatly affected both emotionally and secondarily, perhaps financially.
“Such actions had consequences to wider neighbourhoods as news of the attacks spread.”
Before the jury was selected and the trial opened, Judge Jeremy Gold QC told potential jurors that anyone with strong feelings about cats – whether they were passionate about them or whether they thought harming them “is doing a public service” – should stand down from selection.
He said: “If you are at that of the spectrum, you may feel that you cannot give this case the consideration it deserves.”
Bouquet is charged with 16 counts of criminal damage, all against cats. He denies them all.
The jury was told he would not be attending court, but that no inferences should be drawn from that.
The attacks, which mostly took place under cover of darkness, led to the deaths of nine of the cats. A further seven cats survived.
The cats who died are:
- Hendrix, who belonged to Stewart Montgomery and Agatha Altwegg. The charge says he was injured in Crown Gardens on Friday 31 May 2019 and the damage was worth £1,662.93
- Tommy, who belonged to Carolyn Green. The charge says he was injured in Cheltenham Place, Brighton on Thursday 8 November 2018 and the damage was worth £1,799.28
- Hannah, who belonged to Alan Levy. The charge says she was injured in Crown Gardens on Thursday 11 October 2018 and the damage was worth £150
- Alan, who belonged to Katherine Mattock. The charge says he was injured in North Gardens on Monday 4 February 2019 and the damage was worth £135
- Nancy, who belonged to Jeff Carter. The charge says she was injured in Shaftesbury Road on Monday 18 March 2019 and the damage was worth £3,214
- Gizmo, who belonged to Emma O’Sullivan. The charge says he was injured in Ditchling Rise on Tuesday 27 March 2019 and the damage was worth £384.40
- Kyo, who belonged to Paul Tofts. The charge says he was injured in Rugby Road on Thursday, 2 May 2019 and the value of the damage was unknown
- Ollie, who belonged to Sarah McKenzie. The charge says he was injured in Rugby Road on Wednesday 3 May 2019 and the damage was worth £384.40
- Cosmo, who belonged to Lucy Kenward. The charge says he was injured in Port Hall Place on Saturday 1 June 2019 and the damage was worth £5,056.44
The cats who survived are:
- Alistair, who belongs to Stewart Cruse, on Sunday 14 October 2018 at Trafalgar Terrace, to the value of £2,421.06
- Wheatley, who belongs to Andrea Williams, on Tuesday 2 October 2018 at Crown Gardens, value unknown
- Rigby, who belongs to Penny Vessey, on Wednesday 31 October 2018 at Stafford Road, to the value of £915.58
- Samson, who belongs to Seanin Mouland, on Sunday 18 November 2018 at Ditchling Rise, to the value of £7,500
- Jasper, who belongs to David Berry, on Monday 12 February or Tuesday 13 February 2019 at Rugby Road, to the value of £2,140.95
- Maggie, who belongs to Claire Smith, on Saturday 1 June 2019 at Coventry Street, to the value of £4,826.72
- Gideon, who belongs to Tina Randall, at Trafalgar Terrace on Monday 5 November 2018, to the value of £1,623.33
Churchill Square would like to make it clear Bouquet was not a direct of employee of theirs, and has not worked for their security provider for two years.
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