[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Man jailed for 'brutal' cockfight
Footage of the cockfight (RSPCA)
Cockfighting was banned in the UK more than 150 years ago
A man has been jailed for 90 days for organising a "brutal and bloody" cockfight in which one bird was killed and several others injured.

Joseph Keet, 54, from North Mundham, Chichester, West Sussex, was found guilty of four charges relating to the illegal cockfight in April 2004.

Magistrates in Haywards Heath sent him to prison on Tuesday, for what was described as "barbaric behaviour".

RSPCA officers and Sussex Police raided the cockfight after being tipped off.

They went to Keet's Southgate Duck Nursery, in North Mundham, and discovered cockerels already fighting in a pit made out of hay bales.

Birds bleeding

Fifteen birds were taken to vets for treatment.

Mid Sussex Magistrates Court heard how one was already dead while a number of others had bleeding wounds and swollen eyelids caused by recent fighting.

They had been used in a "naked heel" event, meaning the cockerels were not made to fight with artificial spurs attached to their legs.

A video tape containing footage of two cockfighting bouts was later recovered.

When the authorities arrived a number of men tried to flee the scene but were arrested.

I am totally convinced that a prison sentence is the only option for this level of cruelty
Magistrate Paul Tain

Keet, described in court as the "main player", had denied charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals, aiding and abetting, being present at a cockfight and using his premises for a cockfight.

He was given a 90-day prison sentence, fined a total of 5,000, and banned from owning a cockerel for life.

Stipendiary magistrate Paul Tain said pitting one animal against another for the sole purpose of "enjoying cruelty" was "utterly barbaric".

"I am totally convinced that a prison sentence is the only option for this level of cruelty," he added.

Ten guilty

Nine other men were each fined a total of 400 for their involvement.

William Green, 28, from Cowplain, Hampshire; Stephen James Harrington, 29, from Horndean, Hampshire; James Stephen Keet, 29, from Whitehill, West Sussex; Frank Smith, 37, from Tangmere, West Sussex; and George Sean Stonestreet, 19, and James Christopher Bird, 21, both from Hailsham, East Sussex, had previously pleaded guilty to attending a cockfight.

Joseph Keet
Joseph Keet used his own property for the illegal cockfight
Bill Smith, 44, from Burgess Hill, West Sussex, pleaded guilty to attending a cockfight but was found not guilty of aiding and abetting and of causing unnecessary suffering.

Ashley O'Brien, 35, from Fareham, Hampshire and George Ripley, 24, from Westham, East Sussex, both pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary suffering, aiding and abetting and of being present at a cockfight. They were found not guilty of the first two charges but guilty of being at the cockfight.

Cockfighting was banned in the UK more than 150 years ago.

Ch Insp Mike Butcher, from the RSPCA's special operations unit, said: "Sadly there still seem to be groups who ignore the law and take pleasure in the thought of pitting one bird against another to the death.

"We are pleased that the magistrate recognised the seriousness of the case and gave appropriate sentences and fines," he added.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific