1. ITV Report

Security guard denies killing cats in spate of attacks in Brighton

Steve Bouquet at Brighton Magistrates Court on Thursday. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/PA Images

A security guard has denied killing and maiming 16 cats in a spate of attacks in Brighton.

Steve Bouquet, 53, is charged in relation to the deaths and mutilations of cats in the city.

The 16 attacks took place over a period of 18 months.

Nine of the cats were killed, and seven were seriously injured, according to police.

Emotional cat owners were sitting in the gallery on Thursday, as Bouquet's solicitor told the court there was "huge emotional interest in the case".

Steve Bouquet is charged in connection with a spate of cat attacks. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/PA Images

The security guard faces 16 charges of criminal damage.

The majority of the cats were stabbed between October 2018 and June 2019.

Steve Bouquet spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and nationality.

His solicitor entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the criminal damage charges did not detract from the seriousness of the allegations.

Cats and other animals are deemed as property, while animal cruelty is seen as a less serious offence.

Bouquet is also charged with possessing a knife in public, a charge he also denies.

The case has been referred to Lewes Crown Court for February.