CPS charging statement on Brighton cat attacks
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.”
Why criminal damage is the appropriate charge
We carefully considered which charges would be the most appropriate in this case and concluded that the defendant should be charged with criminal damage.
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.
Notes to editors
• Steven Bouquet [DOB: 05/01/1967] is charged with 16 charges of criminal damage between 2 October 2018 and 1 June 2019. He is also charged with possession of a knife in a public place.
• The defendant is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates' Court on 23 January.
• Any decision by the CPS does not imply any finding concerning guilt or criminal conduct; the CPS makes decisions only according to the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and it is applied in all decisions on whether or not to prosecute.
• It is not the function of the CPS to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for the criminal court to consider.
• The CPS assessment of any case is not in any sense a finding of, or implication of, any guilt or criminal conduct. It is not a finding of fact, which can only be made by a court, but rather an assessment of what it might be possible to prove to a court, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
• This assessment is based on the evidence available arising out of the police investigation and not on the evidence that is likely to be gathered by the defence, and likely to be used to test the prosecution evidence. The CPS charging decision is therefore necessarily an assessment on the basis of the evidence that is available to the CPS at the time the decision is made.
• CPS prosecutors must also keep every case under review, so that they take account of any change in circumstances that occurs as the case develops, including what becomes known of the defence case. If appropriate, the CPS may change the charges or stop a case.