by Alastair Ulke
The Northampton cat killer who dismembered seven family pets and left them in plastic bags on their owner’s driveways has been jailed.
Serial arsonist and cat mutilator, Brendan Gaughan, was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (13 Dec) for a campaign of attacks across the town in the past two years.
The 32 year old was caught after an overnight arson spree in June this year, during which he caused at least £375,000 of damage that destroyed family cafe The Arc, three rough sleepers’ tents and a disused office.
But when he came to court, he asked that 15 other offences were taken into account when he was jailed – namely, a debauched series of cat mutilations and a string of arson attacks in Duston.
Cat attacks left killer ‘satisfied’
The court heard how between August and November 2017, Gaughan targeted and killed seven family pets across Northampton.
He claims the first two were out of “spite” for the owners – but he found the attacks left him “satisfied” and he went on to kill four more in the space of just 10 days.
Nearly every time, Gaughan would set out between 1am and 2am searching for cats, before encouraging them to come near.
He then strangled them, dismembered the bodies and left them on their owner’s driveways or front gardens in plastic bags for them to find.
Prosecutor Matthew Rowcliffe QC said, “After doing it, he would feel satisfied for hurting [the families].
“But in November 2017, he “got bored of harming animals” and turned his interests to starting fires.”
Turned to arson
In a month-long campaign starting 19 November, Gaughan targeted and set fire to eight sheds in nearby neighbourhoods in Duston.
He searched for unlocked sheds in the night and set fire to their contents.
This alone caused thousands of pounds of damage. But then, an attack on 1 December in Cheddar Close spread to a nearby house while the family was sleeping inside.
The family was forced to flee the burning house. The fire caused over £150,000 of damage and the residents have only recently been allowed to return home.
£225,000 worth of damage
Later, in June this year, Gaughan embarked on an overnight arson spree in Northampton that would result in hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage.
In a night that saw him set fire to three rough sleepers’ tents and The Outpost Cafe in Bedford Road, Gaughan also destroyed The Arc boat cafe moored off Midsummer Meadows. He then entered St Andrews Hospital grounds and set fire to a van and a disused office.
The night amounted to some £225,000 of damage.
A police officer investigating the fires found Gaughan hiding in a field where he could watch the fire he started on The Arc burn. He was arrested on suspicion of arson, and later pleaded guilty to all charges.
Had thoughts of ‘raping women and killing them’
In court today, the prosecutor shared something Gaughan said during a psychiatric assessment while he was in custody.
Mr Rowcliffe QC said, “[Gaughan] told his psychiatrist he had had thoughts of other kinds of offending, like entering women’s houses, raping them and killing them. He has never done this, but had had thoughts of doing it.”
Gaughan’s defence barrister, Mr Guy Williamson QC, told the judge, “He has expressed extreme regret and is ashamed of his actions, and understands the psychological, financial and physical harm and distress he has caused.
“This is a case of a man with mental health issues that feels isolated and vulnerable in the community in which he lives.
“He felt nothing towards the cats he was killing and he denies feeling any pleasure derived from these crimes.”
Sentenced to 44 months
But His Honour Judge Roger Tregilgas-Davey said, “The starting of fires by you was deliberate. And in every case, you did nothing but watch. You failed to help extinguish them or alert emergency services.
“These were deliberate and persistent. When a fire did not take, you would make more effort to relight it.”
However, at sentencing, the judge did not rule Gaughan as “dangerous” – and could only add three months to his jail term for the cat killings.
Judge Tregilgas-Davey said, “Any violence has been towards animals and not towards humans.
“In regard to the cat mutilations… I want to make it clear they are they are distasteful. They are distressing. I do not lose sight of that. But any sentence I can impose is limited no matter how many [you killed].”
Gaughan was jailed for 44 months and the court heard he will likely receive psychiatric therapy during his sentence.
The cat killings were once feared to be victims of the dubbed Croydon Cat Killer, who investigators later ruled was the work of foxes.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Northampton Chronicle & Echo