NEWS AND COMMENT: You might have heard of Steve Bouquet, 54, from Brighton who was dubbed the “Brighton Cat Killer” because he terrorised Brighton, UK and the environs by stabbing 16 cats between October 2018 in June 2019. Nine of the cats, Hendrix, Tommy, Hannah, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie and Cosmo, were killed while seven were severely injured. He was tried and convicted because he was caught revisiting the scene of one of his crimes on a security camera attached to the home of a man who had lost his cat to this monster.
Also, they found the knife with which he stabbed the cats and they found DNA on the knife linking him to the stabbings. All in all, the evidence was incredibly strong and a conviction was assured. He’s finally been sentenced to 5 years and three months behind bars. The jail term of five years represents the killings to which three months was added for the possession of a knife. In addition, he was jailed for a further three months for failing to answer bail. He is an ex-Royal Navy gunner and shopping centre security guard.
His defence barrister at the trial, Ravi Dogra, said that bouquet served in the Royal Navy for 22 years and that he may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. He had also served in Northern Ireland and Iraq. He has thyroid cancer which has spread to his lungs and liver. The barrister’s remarks were designed to minimise his prison sentence.
The Crown prosecutor said: “None of us can comprehend what drove Bouquet to do this”. Judge Jeremy Gold QC said that the crimes were “appalling” and that they had had a considerable impact on the families.
Bouquet did not attend court for his trial and was therefore tried in his absence on all 16 charges of criminal damage and the possession of a bladed article.
If you wish to read a bit more about the buildup to the trial and conviction you can click on one of these links:
- Harrowing accounts by cat owners;
- Steve Bouquet, the Brighton Cat Killer, on trial for stabbing 16 cats, killing 9.
Comment: unsurprisingly, Steve Bouquet’s behaviour has attracted a lot of attention and anger, obviously from the cat owners concerned and from the public. Their comments to the news indicate their outrage. Some comments also point to a degree of culpability from the cat owners allowing their cats to roam outside when a cat killer was about. I have some sympathy for that argument.
Steve Bouquet operated over quite a long period of time and yet the cat owners who lost their cats subsequent to the early killings must have been aware of the dangers but apparently either made a risk assessment or ignored the risk.
One person who commented thought that a 10-year sentence would have been more suitable. Quite a lot of people in the UK believe that judges are being too soft on crime through jail terms that are too short.
There is another aspect to his punishment. Arguably he needs treatment as well. He needs to see a psychologist to find out why he took pleasure in stabbing 16 cats. There is an argument that he is psychopathic and often criminals who are violent towards animals progress to violence towards people. That presumably is a distinct possibility with Steve Bouquet in the future.
Another commenter said that animal abuse should be on a par with child abuse. Both are equally innocent as victims and unable to comprehend the situation. I can sympathise with that argument too.
A five-year jail sentence is nonetheless quite a good one for animal cruelty. It might be fair to suggest that violence against animals, sentient beings, is generally under-punished.
The UK is debating the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act. If it passes it will enshrin in law that all animals are sentient beings. This will provide umbrella protection to animals in the UK across all segments of society. If this case had been tried with that act in place, I suspect that the outcome would have been a more severe sentence.
SOME MORE ON CRIMES: