A security guard accused of stabbing 16 cats in a killing spree told police he liked animals despite having pictures of dead felines on his phone, a court has heard.

Steve Bouquet, 54, told officers he would often pat them on the head and stroke them on his way to work.

During a police interview he said: “They’ve always been friendly to me as I’m sort of no threat to animals. If you put yourself over as a threat they will bite and scratch. 

“They come up to me and I give them a stroke and then send them on their way. I’ve no issues with cats and dogs.”

But Chichester Crown Court was told that police found pictures of dead cats when his mobile phone was seized.

A picture of Kyo, a black male cat found stabbed outside his home in Brighton, was discovered after digital files were recovered.

Police also found pictures of other victims including Tommy, a tabby, and Nancy, a black cat, on his phone. 

Pictures showed both cats alive before they were stabbed to death.

In a second police interview with police Mr Bouquet was shown CCTV footage of him allegedly stabbing Hendrix, who later died from his injuries.

Mr Bouquet told  the officer he stopped to stroke the cat and claimed the object held in his hand was a phone.

But the officer suggested the footage showed him stabbing the cat which then fled back into his house.

Mr Bouquet replied: “I did not stab that cat. I deny stabbing the cat and I’ve got nothing else I’m going to say on the matter”.

In police interview he admitted taking pictures of dead cats which were later found on his phone.

Mr Bouquet told police he was regularly logged into the Lost Cats Brighton website because cats around his home had been going missing and he was concerned

Mr Bouquet, a security guard at Churchill Shopping Centre in Brighton, is accused of killing nine cats and seriously injuring seven others.

He has been charged with 16 offences of criminal damage between October 2018 and June 2019 and also unlawfully possessing a Leatherman multi-tool in public.

The security guard has been charged with criminal damage as under current legislation, cats and other animals are deemed to be property.

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

The trial continues.