District Judge condemns ‘sadistic’ dogfight as twenty six are convicted
Twenty-six men have been found guilty for their part in a ‘sadistic’ dogfight, described by the RSPCA as one of the most gruelling and highly-attended dogfights in history.
Seven of the men, facing various charges including causing dogs to fight and possession of pit bull terriers, have been bailed to return for sentencing.
Five of the others were found guilty last week of attending the dogfight and have been fined (appeals have been launched by four of them). Fourteen men have already been fined (on 4 September) after pleading guilty to attending the dogfight.
The dogfight took place on 5 February 2006, on the premises of Marlboro Interiors, Alum Rock Road, Alum Rock, Birmingham.
Police discovered the dogfight in progress after a member of the public called ‘Crimestoppers’. While RSPCA officers were called to attend to the dogs, police surrounded the building and arrested the participants, herding them onto a flagged-down double-decker bus to take them to the police station.
Nick Sutton, prosecuting for the RSPCA, told the court how two dogs were found seriously injured and bleeding heavily. A brindle-coloured pit bull terrier had been hidden in a kitchen cupboard after an attempt to push him behind ceiling tiles had failed.
Bullet, the male brindle-coloured dog died overnight; Elvis, the other darker dog, was put to sleep 48 hours later due to his severe injuries.
A 12-foot square fighting pit was also discovered at the scene. It had been made by re-arranging kitchen units and a treadmill, with carpet put down to stop the dogs from slipping. Also found were buckets of bloody water and sponges to wash the dogs down, breaking sticks to force their jaws apart, and veterinary kits to treat wounds.
Upon fining 14 of the men earlier this month, District Judge Khalid Qureshi said: ‘The event itself is best described as a sadistic event. In my view it involved inflicting unimaginable pain without any pity for the animals.’
Relating to the fines he said: ‘My hands are very much tied in terms of sentence. I cannot think of any offence that is more serious but that carries this limitation of sentence.’
Referring to those he had bailed for pre-sentence reports, Mr Qureshi said that ‘the custody threshold had been crossed’.
One of the men, Intikab Hussain, was described by Mr Qureshi as not merely being present at the fight but was ‘playing an integral part of the fight in that he was acting as the referee.’
He said that the evidence of Ummar Iftikar Ahmed, found guilty of keeping premises for fighting, was ‘not credible’, and that the premises had been set up only for the purpose of a dog fight.
Chief Inspector Ian Briggs of the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit said: ‘The judge has rightly taken this case very seriously. Dogfighting is barbaric, and this was one of the longest, most brutal and most highly-attended dog fights we’ve ever come across. If we’re entering a new era of dogfighting, then we need to stamp it out, fast.’
The court watched graphic video footage of the fight, which lasted at least one and three-quarter hours. The dogs were heard to squeal in pain as they were encouraged to fight. Some people were so distressed by the footage that they had to leave the courtroom.
CI Briggs said: ‘The injuries the dogs suffered on the night were absolutely horrendous. For a super-fit pit bull to die so soon after the fight shows how terrible it must have been. The dark dog suffered so much trauma it had to be put to sleep 48 hours later.
‘Having 26 people arrested at one fight hasn’t happened since the late 1980s, and shows how depressingly popular dog fighting has become again in our major cities, despite being banned almost 200 years ago.’
The longest recorded dogfight lasted two and a half hours. The biggest attended event in modern times and involving the RSPCA was 29 in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1990. The biggest ever number of dogfighters arrested in the UK was 32 in Southwark in 1867.
Anyone with any information about dog fighting should call the RSPCA’s 24 hour cruelty line in confidence on 0300 1234 99