In Brief

Brighton man charged with spate of cat attacks

Security guard accused of 16 counts of criminal damage rather than animal cruelty

A man has been charged over a number of fatal attacks on cats over an eight-month period in Brighton.

Steven Bouquet, a security guard, has been charged with 16 counts of criminal damage relating to the wounding or killing of 16 cats between 2 October 2018 and 1 June this year, The Guardian reports.

The charges are part of Sussex police’s Operation Diverge, which is investigating a number of cat deaths in Brighton and Hove.

Bouquet, 52, who was also charged with possession of a knife in public, will appear before magistrates on 23 January.

The southeast district crown prosecutor, Sally Lakin, said: “Following a spate of attacks on cats in the Brighton area, the Crown Prosecution Service (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.

“The allegations relate to incidents which took place between 2 October 2018 and 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.”

The CPS explained its decision to charge Bouquet with criminal damage rather than animal cruelty, because he was not the owner of the cats. Animal cruelty would also attract a lesser sentence than criminal damage, says The Independent.

“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,” the CPS said. “However, under current legislation, cats and other animals are deemed as property.”

The Brighton investigation came after a Metropolitan Police probe into more than 400 cat deaths across London and the home counties attributed to the “Croydon cat killer”. The Met eventually put the deaths down to car collisions and attacks by wild animals, saying there was no evidence of a crime, reports the Independent.

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