Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 16:54 UK

Cock-fight footage shown to court

PA picture from RSPCA - CCTV of cockfighting
The incident was captured on security CCTV at The Mall shopping centre

A court has been shown footage of three men attending a cock-fighting event.

The video, caught on security cameras, shows a group watching two birds fighting at a travellers' site in Patchway, Bristol, on 4 October 2007.

George Loveridge, 38, and Benjamin Jones, 27, admitted their roles in the event at North Avon Magistrates' Court, and will be sentenced at a later date.

A third man, Michael Purcell, 26, faces trial after admitting being present, but denying taking part in any cruelty.

Loveridge, Jones, and Mr Purcell, of Park Lane, Frampton Cotterell, near Bristol, are said to have organised the contest, near the Highwood Lane site.

Loveridge, of Mancroft Avenue in Lawrence Weston, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a cockerel and causing an animal fight to take place.

Two men have admitted animal cruelty

The bout between a black cockerel and a brown one ended as armed police arrested the men.

Officers were alerted after Loveridge was captured on CCTV security cameras at The Mall shopping centre using a rifle to shoot one of the birds.

Mr Purcell was also caught on camera trying to wring the bird's neck, which he told police he had done "to put it out of its misery".

Bear baiting

The court heard that he told police: "I didn't think it was illegal to sit there watching it.

"I don't live there - I just went to visit the kids. I didn't think it was nice for them all to be there. You can't stop men from doing things."

Mr Purcell pleaded not guilty to two charges - one of being present at the fight and another of taking part in it.

Prosecutor Kevin Withey told North Avon Magistrates' Court: "Animal cruelty is unfortunately something widespread but it is unusual in the extreme for the cruelty, certainly in terms of cock-fighting, to be captured on CCTV.

"This is one of those unusual, if not unique, cases where the evidence is there for you to see."

Cock-fighting was outlawed in England in 1835, at the same time as bear-baiting.

A conviction for cock-fighting carries a maximum sentence of 51 weeks in prison and a fine of up to 5,000.


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