A security guard who knifed cats to death in a string of attacks “that struck at the very heart of family life” has been jailed for more than five years.
Owners of some of the cats Steve Bouquet killed were at Hove Crown Court on Friday to see the 54-year-old imprisoned for 16 attacks in Brighton.
After a spree which lasted between October 2018 and June 2019 he was finally captured on CCTV set up by an owner of a dead cat.
Bouquet was convicted last month of 16 offences of criminal damage, in relation to the cats, and possession of a knife.
Nine cats – Hendrix, Tommy, Hannah, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie and Cosmo – were killed while another seven were injured.
During the trial jurors heard accounts from several cat owners who had found their pets bleeding on their doorsteps.
Sentencing Bouquet, Judge Jeremy Gold QC said his behaviour was “cruel, it was sustained and it struck at the very heart of family life”.
He was jailed for five years and three months.
Jayne Cioffi from the CPS said: “This has been a tragic case for all the owners involved. Not only did Steve Bouquet inflict horrendous suffering to each of the animals he attacked, but he also caused real trauma to their owners, many of whom found their beloved pets injured and bleeding.
“None of us can comprehend what drove Bouquet to do this to family pets.
“His claims that it was simply chance that he was present at various times when the animals were attacked were rightly dismissed by the jury after being disproved by the investigation and prosecution work.
“The CPS will always seek to prosecute people for cruelty to animals, either pets or other wildlife, where cases pass our legal test.”
In his police interview read out during his trial, Bouquet told officers that all he knew about the cat killings was what he had read in the newspapers and online.
He told police he was “no threat to animals” – but a photo of a dead cat was found on his phone, the court heard.