A security guard who stabbed nine cats to death and injured another seven is unlikely to have killed animals elsewhere in the country, police said.

Steve Bouquet, 54, who worked as a security guard at Churchill Square shopping centre in Brighton, East Sussex, was jailed for five years and three months for a string of cat deaths.

From 2015 until 2018, the Met Police had been investigating the so-called Croydon Cat Killer after hundreds of reports of decapitated and mutilated animals around Greater London were made to officers.

But the probe was dropped and the deaths were attributed to scavenging wildlife and road traffic accidents, with "no human involvement".

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Brighton Cat Killer Steve Bouquet, bald, middle right, was on the run until being found in a parkBrighton Cat Killer Steve Bouquet, bald, middle right, was on the run until being found in a park

Bouquet's arrest in June 2019 led to speculation he may have been behind some of the killings, but detectives today said he is unlikely to have killed any pets outside of Brighton.

Investigators discovered his attacks happened near his home in the seaside city.

Police also found a series of videos of dogs killing cats on his laptop, as well as two photos of a dead cat in a front garden.

After the hearing today, Stewart Montgomery whose cat Hendrix was attacked by Bouquet and died of his injuries said losing his beloved pet had been devastating for him and his partner.

He said his family was so shocked by the killing they left Brighton.

Montgomery added: “We got Hendrix as a kitten and had him less than eight months. He was such a bold cat who loved being outside but on the day he was attacked, he was only outside for about 10 minutes.

“We rushed him to the vet but was too badly injured to be saved. We miss him as he was part of our family. In fact we were so shocked about what had happened, we decided to move away from the city centre.

“We are so pleased and relieved that the police arrested the person responsible and he was convicted of these shocking crimes.”

Some pet owners paid up to £7,500 in vet bills to help their wounded animals.

Chief Superintendent Nick May, divisional commander for Brighton and Hove, tried to calm fears that Bouquet was killing other pets around the country, after a series of dead animals were discovered around the South East - dubbed the Croydon Cat Killer. He said Bouquet rarely left Brighton and all the attacks occurred only a short distance from his home.

CSI May added: “This has had a devastating impact on those who have had their beloved pets killed or seriously injured and Bouquet’s actions understandably caused a lot of concern and worry to other pet owners in the city.

“There have been considerable financial implications as well, with some spending up to £7,500 to try to save their animals.

“This was a necessarily complex and exhaustive investigation. I would like to express my thanks to the investigation team who worked tirelessly to bring about this successful result, to the CPS and the many experts who we have called upon to support the prosecution.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: The Croydon 'killer' was thought to have taken hundreds of livesThe Croydon 'killer' was thought to have taken hundreds of lives

“There is no indication to suggest that Bouquet is involved in any other incidents relating to the killing or injuring of cats elsewhere in the country – indeed, evidence suggests that he rarely leaves Brighton.

“There are no indications that there is any other person in Brighton and Hove causing harm to cats and we are not looking for anyone else involved in this type of criminality.

“However, we understand the considerable public interest in this case and we are sharing our learning with the National Crime Agency and with other forces who have experienced similar incidents.”

Detective Inspector Chris Thompson said after the sentencing that officers found the attacks on cats increased when Bouquet was off work.

He said: “He was bailed while our investigations continued and we established that he was never out of the city at the relevant times of the offences – this was the time from when the cat was last seen uninjured to the time when it was found injured or dead.

“He was never at work for the whole period during the relevant times, there was a preponderance of offences between his home and work place when he was working, but when he was not at work the offences occurred mainly near his home address.

“Additionally, we found that when he had a period of leave, the attacks increased from one or two a month to several over the course of a week.

“We were aware that, with the exception of the CCTV from Crown Gardens, we were relying on circumstantial evidence, but as the investigation progressed we were able to establish location data from his mobile phone, we disproved his claim that he found the knife on his way to work on the morning of his initial arrest and a witness had come forward with a positive identification of him after seeing a man acting suspiciously shortly before a cat was found dead in the Shaftsbury Road area.

“Due to the unique nature of this investigation, a number of experts were identified to assist in assessing the evidence and information available including proving that the injuries were stab wounds and interpretation and examination of his mobile telephone.”

When officers searched his home, they found videos of dogs killing cats on Bouquet's laptop, as well as two photos of a dead cat in a front garden.

DI Thompson added: “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.

“He had also viewed numerous dog killing cat-related videos and two photographs of a dead cat in a front garden, taken at different times of the day, were recovered from his devices and believed to have been taken by him.

“No further incidents of this nature had been reported since his arrest.”

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