A security guard accused of stabbing nine cats to death and injuring seven more was caught when he was spotted attacking a kitten on CCTV erected by the owner of one of his previous victims, a court has heard.
Steve Bouquet, 54, who is being tried in his absence after failing to appear for his trial at Chichester Crown Court, allegedly went on the cat killing spree in Brighton between October 2018 and June 2019.
Jurors were told how he would approach the pets in the street and appear to show them affection before pulling a knife from his backpack and stabbing them with force.
He then walked off leaving the family pets, who suffered catastrophic injuries, to crawl home where many later died from their injuries.
In May 2019 Bouquet was allegedly caught by chance on a CCTV camera attacking Hendrix, a nine-month-old black kitten, who was sitting on a wall near his house.
The camera had been installed by the owner of the second feline victim, Hannah, who died in October 2018.
Mr Bouquet, a security guard at Churchill Shopping Centre, is accused of killing nine cats and seriously injuring seven others.
Samson survived an attack
He has been charged with 16 offences of criminal damage because under criminal legislation cats and other animals are deemed to be property.
He has also been charged with unlawfully possessing a Leatherman multi-tool in public.
Mr Bouquet, who is being tried in his absence, has denied the charges.
Rowan Jenkins, prosecuting, told Chichester Crown Court the stabbings began in October 2018.
He said police launched an investigation after reports domestic cats were being “deliberately stabbed” in the street while close to their homes.
He said: “Some owners found that their cats were still alive and were able to take timely action to save them by rushing them to the vets. Not all were able to find them in time or indeed save them.”
He said vets treating the cats ruled out car accidents or falling from trees as the possible cause of the injuries.
He said: “These were penetrative and clean wounds which in opinion of the vets, was caused by a sharp knife. Someone was deliberately inflicting these injuries.
“Whoever was responsible was not just causing suffering to animals themselves but caused understandable trauma to owners, which affected them emotionally and financially.”
Mr Jenkins told the jury that for almost a year police were clueless over the identity of the cat killer as more than a dozen feline victims were stabbed.
And then by chance in May 2019 Mr Bouquet was allegedly recorded attacking Hendrix .
Describing the footage, Mr Jenkins, explained how the perpetrator initially looked as if he was simply stopping to stroke the kitten.
He told the jury: “He appears to show affection but as he goes he seems to take something from his rucksack and you will see a sudden jerk from the defendant’s arm which is the moment he stabs Hendrix with force.
“Hendrix immediately gets to his feet and flees to his home. The defendant is seen to rearrange his rucksack and walks past the camera.”
However the court heard that minutes later the man returned and glanced directly towards the CCTV camera.
When Hendrix’s owner discovered his pet was bleeding they rushed him to a vet.
He was bleeding heavily from both sides of his abdomen and immediately underwent surgery where the vet found he had lacerations to both kidneys. Efforts were made to save him but he later died.
When his owner, Stewart Montgomery, discovered his neighbour had a CCTV camera trained on the street he approached him and the pair viewed the footage of the stabbing.
Two days later, Mr Levy saw Bouquet walking past his house again on his live CCTV and immediately called police and officers who had been hunting the alleged cat killer for months attended the scene.
Police say that Mr Bouquet was stopped some streets away, searched and the Leatherman was found in his possession.
He was arrested and taken into custody and later charged with the spate of stabbings.
The trial continues.