THE LAWYER who successfully prosecuted the Brighton Cat Killer has spoken about the factors that could influence his sentencing.

District crown prosecutor Sally Lakin successfully prosecuted Steve Bouquet for killing or injuring 16 cats in a spate of attacks that lasted more than eight months.

Bouquet was originally set to be sentenced on July 12, however this was adjourned after he was taken to hospital.

Ms Lakin said: “Sentencing is a matter for the court, there was no early guilty plea so Mr Bouquet would not have attracted any credit for an early guilty plea. The number of cats involved will be an aggravating factor.

“Any mitigating factor that the defence wishes to put forward is a matter for them and I'm not aware of any at this time.

"The judge will take into account the evidence he has heard, the impact on the owners and to some degree the sentencing guidelines.”

Nine cats received injuries at the hands of Bouquet that were so serious that they could not be saved.

Hannah, Tommy, Alan, Nancy, Gizmo, Kyo, Ollie, Hendrix and Cosmo were all killed

Another seven cats, Wheatley, Alistair, Rigby, Gideon, Samson, Jasper and Maggie survived.

Ms Lakin was asked about the decision to prosecute Bouquet with criminal damage and not another offence, such as animal cruelty.

She said: “Animal cruelty is a summery-only offence. That means it can only be heard in the lower courts, in the Magistrates Court. It has a maximum sentence of just six months.

“So, upon conviction, it would have attracted a far lesser sentence than that of criminal damage.

“As criminal damage is an either way offence that can be heard in the crown court, as this case was, it will allow the court a far greater sentencing range.

“The maximum sentence for criminal damage on indictment is ten years. So it better reflected the nature of offending and the devastation that was caused.”

The offence of criminal damage attracts a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment.

For an offence of criminal damage to be brought, a value has to be calculated. In this case, a value was assigned to the damage of killed and injured cats.

These values varied dramatically.

For instance, the damage to Gizmo, who was killed in Ditchling Rise on March 27, 2019, was valued at £384.40.

But the damage to Cosmo, who died after being stabbed in Port Hall Place on June 1, 2019, was valued at £5,056.44

The highest damage caused was of that of Samson, who survived after being stabbed on November 18, 2018, in Ditchling Rise. That was valued at £7,500.

Ms Lakin was asked how these figures were calculated.

“It was calculated based on vets’ bills and some of the cats had autopsy reports completed on them,” she said.

Earlier this week, an owner of a suspected victim of the Brighton Cat Killer called for greater protection for all animals.

The district crown prosecutor was asked whether the law needed updating following Bouquet's crimes.

She said: “This was obviously a horrible and horrific case, it is a case where family pets, much loved family pets who were part of the owner's lives, were killed and abused in an intolerable fashion.

“But, decisions on the law and changes to it are a matter for Parliament and not the CPS, but the CPS are committed to prosecuting offenders who abuse or mistreat animals.

“The CPS have prosecuted 209 offences of cruelty to animals during 2020 and 2021.

"But the reason the charge of criminal damage was chosen as opposed to animal cruelty was because we, as the CPS, have to consider the best charge for the offending behaviour.

"We also need to consider the best charge that allows the court an appropriate sentencing range”

Police were baffled and The Brighton Cat Killer was an invisible man until he was revealed by a single error.

A breakthrough in the gruesome mystery came when a CCTV system set up by an owner of a slain cat appeared to capture a fresh attack on camera.

The Argus previously revealed that Sussex Police sent a total of 23 cases to the Crown Prosecution Service - seven more than previously thought.

However, these did not meet the high threshold of “compelling and irrefutable evidence”.

Ms Lakin said the case of the Brighton Cat Killer was “extremely unusual” for the prosecution service.

She said: “It was extremely unusual in terms of how many animals were included.

“Also, usually when we're looking at cases of animal cruelty, we are looking a the actual owners causing the injuries.

"Obviously, this was completely different. Mr Bouquet had preyed on the animals of others in his local area.

“The CPS hopes that the fact that Mr Bouquet was convicted on all counts brings some comfort to the owners because this was obviously an extremely traumatic time for them and it was a case that affected the wider community.

“The local community were devastated and concerned, and rightly so.

“But it is an unusual case, it's certainly not a case that the CPS would expect to be brought to our attention on any regular basis and we hope that brings some comfort to the wider community.”