Friday, June 14, 2024

Members of international dog-fighting ring who staged fights in Ireland are jailed

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Dogs endured brutal training regimes and were starved to fighting weight before being put in bouts where they fought sometimes to the death

Dogs endured brutal training regimes and were starved to fighting weight before being put in bouts where they fought sometimes to the death, Chelmsford Crown Court heard on Monday.

The animals suffered serious injuries including broken legs and were kept in dirty conditions, some with no access to clean drinking water or proper bedding, and being left caged and alone for long periods.

Injured animals were treated by those in the fighting gang with makeshift medical kits rather than taken to qualified vets, in order to avoid detection.

A still from a video of a dogfight taken from Phillip Harris Ali’s phone (RSPCA/PA)

Judge Jamie Sawyer said the gang showed “a shocking level of barbarism and callousness” for the dogs involved in the case.

He said the fights, which took place in England, Ireland and France, were “highly planned and without a care for the welfare of the animals in question”.

The judge told the defendants: “Dogs were treated as a commodity by each of you. They were playing pieces in your game.”

Much of the key evidence in the case came from a phone belonging to Phillip Harris Ali, 67, of Manford Way, Chigwell, Essex, who was known as Dr Death.

This included photos and videos of dogs and gruesome match reports detailing how the animals were set upon each other, sent via the encrypted messaging app Signal.

Ali was sentenced to five years in total for 10 offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

His “right-hand man”, Stephen Albert Brown, 57, of Burrow Road, Chigwell, Essex, was jailed for two years and six months after he was found guilty of five offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

A dog named Dotti was one of the animals made to take part in the brutal fights (RSPCA/PA)

As the fighting ring’s medicine man, he got illegal veterinary medication and equipment and was involved in training dogs and arranging fights.

Personal trainer Billy Leadley, 38, who had a dog fighting pit at his home in Bambers Green, Takeley, Essex, was jailed for a total of four years for 12 different offences.

The judge said reading a match report about one 58-minute fight at which Leadley was referee, in which one of the animals suffered two broken legs, was “horrific”.

His wife, hairdresser Amy Leadley, 39, who was not directly involved in the ring, was sentenced for various offences linked to keeping a premises for dog-fighting and not caring for the animals properly.

She was given an 18-month community order, 200 hours of unpaid work and 25 days of rehabilitation activity.

All four defendants were banned from keeping dogs for 10 years.

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