March 25, 2023

A police force has charged money for clips of the Brighton Cat Killer stabbing nine animals to death – months after he died in prison.

Sussex police are selling clips of interviews with Steve Bouquet, who was sentenced to five years in prison for a series of attacks on cats on the south coast.

A documentary filmmaker has criticized the policy, saying that “it feels like Sussex police are limiting their content based on the depth of a potential buyer’s wallet.”

The 54-year-old, who died behind bars of cancer on January 6 this year, was convicted of killing nine cats and injuring seven others in a brutal crime wave in the resort town.

The jury that convicted him last July played down interviews police had with Bouquet during the trial, with chilling footage denying him being the cat killer.

It has now been revealed that Sussex Police, the force that led the investigation into him, has charged £250 per clip for interview footage, some of which was used as evidence in court and others not played in front of the jury.

The force, known for having an eBay site that sells items seized from criminals, says the fee is for “administrative time” involved in handling the request for footage.

Sussex Police Charged £250 Per Clip For Interview Footage With Steve Bouquet, The Brighton Cat Killer

Bouquet, who was imprisoned for killing nine cats in the seaside town, died of cancer in prison earlier this year

However, five neighboring police forces all said there were no circumstances in which they would sell police interviews to the press.

Police admitted asking for money for the use of the footage when she was approached by documentary filmmaker Jody Doherty-Cove, who wanted to use the footage for his film Charged: How to Catch a Cat Killer.

In an email stating the price for each clip, Sussex Police said: ‘We are only offering one license with a minimum price of £250 for non-exclusive use for up to three years.

“Let me know if you want to buy anything.”

Mr Doherty-Cove, co-founder and presenter of Charged True Crime UK, said: ‘Sharing footage of a police interview of a criminal should be based on whether it is in the public interest to do so.

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“However, by charging money for the footage, it feels like the Sussex police are restricting their content based on the depth of a potential buyer’s wallet.

“Hopefully the police can understand that small or local outlets often reach audiences untouched by larger outlets such as ITV prime time.

Sussex Police say they are charging the fee for “administrative time so as not to burden taxpayers”. Pictured is Sussex Police Headquarters in Lewes

These communities should not miss out on important aspects of the criminal justice system because the creators of the content they enjoy cannot afford to pay the sums demanded by the Sussex police.”

A spokesman for the Sussex Police Department said the policy was to ensure that the cost of handling the request would not burden taxpayers.

“We provide the media with a lot of information and material on police issues, operations and investigations on a daily basis, which is freely used for simultaneous reporting,” he said.

“We support the principles of open justice and the wider benefits to our local communities from legally and proportionately sharing this information for crime prevention and detection, and building trust in reporting.

Bouquet served in the Royal Navy for 22 years, including in Northern Ireland and Iraq, before becoming a guard

“In this case, the evidence used in court was provided free of charge to all media at the time.

“For requests to use non-contemporary material, and where it is judged that there is no further policing target, we may charge a fee for administrative time so as not to burden the taxpayer.

‘This is common and accepted within the manufacturing industry.’

The policies of the Sussex police have contrasted with neighboring troops who have said they would not.

A Met police spokesman said: “We only release footage when it is being used simultaneously as part of an appeal or where it has been submitted as evidence in court.

‘We don’t charge a fee for this.’

Essex Police said: ‘It’s a categorical no from us. And I refer you to the Code of Ethics of the College of Policing for further guidance.’

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Surrey Police said: ‘We do not charge for supplying video to the press.’

The Hampshire Police said: ‘As a force we would not charge for this under any circumstances.’

Mr Doherty-Cove’s documentary details the investigation into his crime wave that terrified pet owners in East Sussex.

The former Royal Navy sailor served in the armed forces for 22 years before becoming a guard.

Between October 2018 and June 2019, Bouquet stabbed at least 16 domestic cats in the resort, killing nine and injuring seven.

Nine cats – Hendrix, Tommy, Hannah, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie and Cosmo – were killed by Bouquet, while another seven were injured

He was sentenced to five years and three months in prison at Hove Crown Court last July after being found guilty of 16 offenses of criminal harm related to the cats, as well as possession of a knife.

During his trial, jurors heard stories from several cat owners who found their pets bleeding on their doorsteps.

Nine cats – Hendrix, Tommy, Hannah, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie and Cosmo – were killed, while another seven were injured.

He was caught after CCTV was set up by the owner of a dead cat who caught him hunting.

Judge Jeremy Gold, QC, convicted him, saying his behavior was “cruel, it was sustained and it touched the heart of family life.”

He added: ‘It’s important for everyone to understand that cats are pets, but they are more than that. They are in fact family members.

“They are much loved by the adults and children who live with them and care for them.

“Cats and all pets are a source of joy and support for their owners, especially during the lockdown.”

How a single mistake led to the unmasking of the Brighton cat killer

Police spent months chasing an anonymous and unnamed cat killer who was eventually exposed after making a single mistake, prosecutors say.

Security guard Steve Bouquet was able to move through the city of Brighton undetected, chasing cats in a horrific attack that killed nine of the creatures and injured others.

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As well as leaving owners traumatized to find their beloved pets bleeding on their doorstep, the series of attacks caused fear and confusion in the city of East Sussex.

Ultimately, it was a CCTV camera set up by one such owner that captured Bouquet on video — evidence that prosecutors say was “crucial” to finally ending the bloody campaign.

Bouquet was convicted last year at trial for 16 felonies for criminal damage and possession of a knife, and was sentenced to five years and three months in Hove Crown Court last year.

District Attorney Sally Lakin said the case was “extremely unusual,” with cats being attacked at a rate she’d never seen before.

She said: ‘When we deal with cases involving injury or death to animals, it is usually the actual owner who is responsible for inflicting suffering on their own animal, but this was of course a very different case.

“Steve Bouquet hunted a large number of cats in his area and caused them terrible damage and trauma to their owners, who eventually discovered that their cats were injured.”

Ms Lakin said Bouquet “certainly wouldn’t have been caught so quickly” had it not been for the CCTV that appeared to capture one of his attacks on camera.

Still, with so many incidents, it took the police and CPS “over a year” to investigate and approve the charges.

After Bouquet’s arrest, police were able to use cell phone data to link his movements to many of the attacks.

But even now, nearly three years after the first attack in October 2018, the motives behind his offense remain a mystery.

Ms Lakin added: ‘I think it’s a shame for the owners of the cats that they don’t know why he did it. “It is such an unusual offense and extremely traumatic.

“You could spend all day guessing why someone would do such a horrific thing.”

Commenting at the time of his sentencing, Ms Lakin says she hopes the convictions will give owners and the wider community “some peace and comfort” and stressed that these types of offenses are “extremely rare”.