A security guard accused of knifing cats to death in Brighton told police he was “no threat to animals” – but a photo of a dead cat was found on his phone, jurors were told.
Steve Bouquet spoke to detectives about how cats “have always been friendly”, and how he would stroke them while out and about in the city, Chichester Crown Court heard.
Nine cats were killed during a gruesome months-long spree in the East Sussex city in 2018 and 2019, while seven more were injured.
Devastated owners, reeling from the loss of their beloved pets, were also confronted with huge vet’s bills often reaching thousands of pounds.
Bouquet, 54, from Brighton, is standing trial after denying 16 offences of criminal damage – in relation to the cats – and possession of a knife.
On Friday, jurors were shown a series of images found on his phone showing live cats in various spots around Brighton.
The jury was spared having to look at another picture discovered on Bouquet’s phone, which showed a dead cat called Kyo that had belonged to a professor.
Kyo is one of the nine cats Bouquet is accused of killing, along with Hendrix, Tommy, Hannah, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Ollie and Cosmo.
The image had been shared with police investigating the string of cat attacks but had also been published in a local newspaper, the court heard.
Another cat pictured on Bouquet’s phone was short-haired tabby Tommy, who was discovered bleeding on his owner Scott Rankin’s doorstep in November 2018.
Tommy had only been let out for about 15 minutes but suffered a 4cm cut and did not survive his injury, the court heard previously.
In a statement read out in court, Mr Rankin said he was emailed a picture of a cat by a detective and asked to identify it.
“I knew immediately it was Tommy I recognised him due to the large white patch on his chest,” he said.
In his police interview which was read out in court, Bouquet told officers that all he knew about the cat killings was what he had read in the newspapers and online.
“I have heard various reports of people wandering around at night with a machete,” he told officers.
“Someone’s going around with a machete. If I see him harming a cat and I try to intervene it could be my head that gets rolled.”
Bouquet’s tenancy meant he was not allowed to have pets in his basement flat but would see cats as he walked through the city, he said.
One officer asked him: “Do you like cats?”
He replied: “Yeah. Yeah, always, they have always been friendly, like, and I am sort of no threat to animals.
“They come up to me, I give them a stroke and I send them on their way.
“I have no issues with cats, dogs or anything like that.”
The trial continues.