This documentary about Brighton cat death investigator Boudicca Rising combines cats and true crime – catnip reviews
How to catch a cat killer brought us cats and real crime together – reviews catnip, certainly. It centered on a community action in Brighton in 2018 to try to identify the person who stabbed at least 14 Moggie residents in the town. “How could anyone do such a thing to an innocent animal?” wondered the owner of the first recorded victim, “King of the Alley” Gideon.
A certain breed of humorous crime writer (I’m thinking Kate Atkinson or Richard Osman) might regret not being able to invent a detective character brilliantly named Boudicca Rising. Because Boudicca Rising is a “cat death investigator” who (until recently) works for a charity with the equally brilliant acronym SNARL (South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty).
Rising contributed to a documentary that must have been a safe bet for ITV.
A good question that the documentary couldn’t answer. This was largely because the perpetrator – 52-year-old security guard Steven Bouquet (or ‘creepy Steve’ as he was known by fellow bouncers on the doors of Brighton’s pubs and clubs) – would die in prison had not the murders been confessed to have.
There was also a section about David Iwo killing at least 30 cats in Norwich before becoming his first human victim. And of course, serial killer Ted Bundy infamously began torturing small animals.
That was partly due to fears in Brighton that the cat killer had larger, two-legged prey in mind. But above all, it was a concern for residents’ own pets as the city’s ailurophiles rallied on social media, handed out fliers and became citizen detectives. Her Cats Community Action Team even had one of those needle-and-string wall charts that are so popular in homicide investigations in TV cop dramas.
Keith Randall, whose beloved pet Hendrix was one of Bouquet’s early victims, got his breakthrough when he followed Hendrix’s blood trail and checked a neighbor’s CCTV. And there was Bouquet, attacking Hendrix before casually sauntering away.
Following Bouquet’s arrest, Sussex Police began the arduous task of gathering evidence. This yielded fairly conclusive results, with cat DNA on a kitchen knife, heinous videos on his laptop of dogs mauling cats, and (crucially) a phone trace that brought him to the scene of 14 of the murders. The autopsy revealed death by stabbing.
There is a more famous case – that of the so-called Croydon Cat Killer, who is believed to have slaughtered more than 400 cats. Pathologists examining 32 of these carcasses discovered that foxes, cars and disease had caused most of the deaths. Police then closed the case, though people remain convinced a killer is still at large — not least the die-hard Boudicca Rising.
She cited instances of collars being sent through owners’ mailboxes and even someone nailing a cat’s head and tail to the owner’s door.
After covering most angles, the documentary even managed to serve up a happy ending – Gideon made a full recovery and Hendrix’s owners now have a new Moggie.
But why cats, I couldn’t help but wonder? Does their roaming and approachability to strangers make them easy targets for the sick? In fact, a documentary is yet to be made, this one about what actually drives people like Bouquet to kill helpless little animals. And no, this is not an invitation to hear from opponents of foxhunting.