A man accused of stabbing pet cats in Brighton claimed seven victims in one month, a court has heard.

Steve Bouquet, a 54-year-old shopping centre security guard, allegedly attacked the pets with a knife, leaving them with horrific and often fatal wounds.

Between October and November 2018, Mr Bouquet allegedly stabbed seven cats, killing two of them. He has been charged with 16 counts of criminal damage, as pet cats are deemed to be property.

At Chichester Crown Court, owners described their horror at discovering the appalling injuries suffered by their pets.

Tina Randall, whose 11 and a half-year-old cat Gideon was one of those attacked, said she had found her pet with blood spurting out of a deep shoulder wound.

She said: "Gideon came in through the front door. He seemed to flop down and I noticed there was something wrong with him. It was a three-quarter inch straight wound. It did not look like a bite.  I immediately thought it was a stab wound. He was fading and, as I picked him up, blood spurted out."

Ms Randall, who is a former veterinary assistant, took him to the vets, where he underwent emergency surgery and survived.

In total, seven cats Hannah, Wheatley, Alistair, Rigby, Gideon, Tommy and Samson, were stabbed during the period. Tommy and Hannah died from their injuries.

Samson was stabbed but survived his ordeal

Hannah, a 14-month-old, had last been seen sitting up a neighbour’s tree by her owner Alan Levy as he headed to work in October 2018. But just 30 minutes later he received a call from his partner telling him their beloved pet had been seriously injured.

He returned home and the couple raced Hannah, a short-haired black cat, to vets. However, the jury was told that the cat had such a deep laceration to her leg that she could not be saved and died of blood loss.

In another case, the court heard how a cat called Alistair had to undergo £2,500 of veterinary treatment after suffering a knife wound.

In a statement read to the court, another cat owner, Carolyn Green, described the moment she discovered her cat, Tommy, bleeding on her front doorstep. She said: "I saw my cat Tommy lying on the doorstep, clearly injured. I only let him out a few minutes previously. I picked him and noticed blood on my T-shirt." She took him to a vet in Brighton, but he died from his injuries.

Another cat owner, Seanin Mouland, whose pet Samson, a three-year-old tabby, was injured in November 2018 told the court she found him dragging his back legs after being stabbed.

In a statement read to the court, she said: "He came to the bedroom door. I saw his back legs weren’t working. He was growling and hissing. It was clear something was wrong, He then threw up. I found a small blood spot on the floor beneath him."

When her husband turned him over they could see an inch-long slit on his left hip near his belly. He was rushed to a vets and underwent surgery to repair a puncture to his abdomen which had damaged his colon. He was given intensive post-operative care and survived.

Mr Bouquet, who is being tried in his absence, has denied the charges.

The trial continues.