A man has been named and charged in connection with serial cat killings in Sussex.
According to Sussex Police, a man will appear in court next month charged in connection with Operation Diverge, the investigation into a number of cat deaths in the city of Brighton and Hove.
CPS has authorised the charge of Steve Bouquet, 52, a security guard, from the London Road area of Brighton. On Sunday, December 22, he was charged with 16 counts of criminal damage, police said.
This related to the wounding and killing of cats in the city between October 2, 2018 and June 1, 2019. He has also been charged with possessing a knife blade or sharp pointed article in a public place on June 2, 2019.
He has been bailed to attend Brighton Magistrates Court on Thursday 23 January 2020, police added.
South East District Crown Prosecutor Sally Lakin said: “Following a spate of attacks on cats in the Brighton area, the Crown Prosecution Service has authorised Sussex Police to charge Steven Bouquet with 16 charges of criminal damage, relating to attacks on 16 cats, nine of which were killed and seven were seriously injured.
“The allegations relate to incidents which took place between 2 October 2018 and 1 June 2019.
“This is a complex case and this decision was made following a careful review of all of the evidence presented to us.
“Criminal proceedings against this defendant are now active and he has a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
A CPS spokesman said they 'carefully considered which charges would be the most appropriate in this case and concluded that the defendant should be charged with criminal damage'.
They went on to say: "This does not in any way detract from the seriousness of the offence or the great distress these incidents will have caused the owners of the cats. However, under current legislation, cats and other animals are deemed as property.
"Prosecutors did consider whether to charge animal cruelty, but the circumstances of the case meant this was inappropriate, as the defendant is not the owner of the cats. In addition, animal cruelty is a summary-only offence and therefore would attract a lesser sentence than criminal damage."