Friday 1 September 2023

What the Brighton cat killer died of (if it interests you!)

We have the inquest report on the death of the Brighton cat killer. You may remember him. He went around Brighton killing domestic cat that were outside on the street. He did it for quite a long time and killed a large number of cats but was eventually caught on a CCTV camera when he returned to the scene of one of his crimes.

Steve Bouquet, The Brighton Cat Killer. Photo: Eddie Mitchell.
Steve Bouquet, The Brighton Cat Killer. Photo: Eddie Mitchell.

He was a former Royal Navy gunner. His name was Steve Bouquet. I am writing in the past tense because he died in prison after he was convicted and sentenced to a prison term.

Yesterday, at an inquest held in Maidstone, Kent, coroner Patricia Harding confirmed his cause of death as Covid-19 pneumonitis and a secondary cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. At the time he had been receiving end-of-life care for thyroid cancer at the prison where he was incarcerated, HMP Elmley.

So, Mr Bouquet died of a Covid-19 infection which affected his lungs as this disease does. The coroner decided that it was not clear where he had contracted Covid. He tested positive on December 28. This was a day after he was admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital as he was having difficulty breathing and had a cough.

He was treated with antibiotics and oxygen and other medication specifically to treat coronavirus but his condition progressively deteriorated.

For the sake of completeness, he was jailed for five years and three months at Hove Crown Court in July 2022. He had been found guilty of 16 offences of criminal damage (i.e. the murder of or injury to 16 domestic cats). He was also found guilty of the possession of a knife.

As I recall, he stabbed the cats to death. He died on his 55th birthday on January 5, 2022. His cruel actions caused an awful amount of distress in the cats' owners as you can imagine. Nine cats were killed while another seven were injured. In memory of those killed their names are: Hendrix, Tommy, Hannah, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie and Cosmo.

During sentencing the judge, Jeremy Gold QC said that his behaviour was "cruel, it was sustained and it struck at the very heart of family life. It is important everyone understands cats are domestic pets but they are more than that. They are effectively family members. They are much loved by the adults and children who live with and care for them. Cats and all domestic animals are a source of joy and support to their owners, especially during lockdown."

Absolutely correct. It is nice to see a judge recognising that simple fact and the law is out of date because you may remember I referred to criminal damage above. If a person kills a cat in the UK, under the law, they are effectively damaging an inanimate object not a sentient being who is a family member. That's because the law regards domestic cats as chattels just like any other inanimate possession.

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