Devon

Caged animal fight organiser jailed

Dogs Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Dogs were pictured goading a fox trapped in a cage

The ringleader of a gang which carried out attacks on wild animals including putting a dog in a cage with a fox has been sentenced to 20 weeks in prison.

Graham Coombes, 41, from Abbey Road, Bovey Tracy, Devon, was also disqualified from owning dogs for life.

The dog killed the fox after the two animals fought in a tiny cage, Plymouth magistrates heard.

Eleven men have been sentenced after admitting or being found guilty of a total of 27 offences.

Referring to photographs of a dog with its mouth and neck ripped open by a badger, District Judge Diana Baker said to Coombes: "You are the ringleader of organised animal hunting and killing and you had no regard to the welfare of these animals.

"You were videoing it and you were clearly excited by what was happening."

The court heard how dogs were also set on badgers, on deer and in one case, a pig.

It also heard dogs had been mistreated or not cared for when injured.

Magistrates were shown mobile phone footage of the attacks, including the one in which the fox and the dog fought in a cage.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption A dog was put in a cage with a fox, fighting it until the wild animal was dead

Several members of the gang covered faces with their hands as it was shown.

The charges and sentences:

  • Graham Coombes admitted three counts of killing a deer at night, two counts of killing a badger, one count of injuring a badger, two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, causing unnecessary suffering to a pig by attacking it with a dog, and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog by failing to treat its injuries.
Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Dogs were set on other wild animals including badgers
  • Oliver Blatch, 27, from Sturminster Newton, Dorset, admitted two counts of killing a deer at night. He was sentenced to eight weeks in jail suspended for 12 months and 180 hours of unpaid work.
  • Kenneth Danes, 29, from Culmhead, Taunton, Somerset, admitted two counts of killing a deer at night. He was sentenced to eight weeks in jail suspended for 12 months and 140 hours of unpaid work.
  • Gethyn Durham, 27, from Pontnewydd, Torfaen, admitted one charge of killing a deer at night, one of possessing a fighting dog and failing to provide five dogs with a suitable environment. He was jailed for six weeks and disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.
  • Brian Forrest, 40, from Kingston St Mary, Taunton, admitted one charge of killing a deer at night. He was sentenced to six weeks in jail suspended for 12 months and 140 hours of unpaid work.
  • Dean McGrath, 29, from Cwmbran, Torfaen, admitted one charge of killing a deer at night. He was given a six-week jail term suspended for 12 months and 160 hours of unpaid work.
Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption The offences included killing deer at night
  • Joseph O'Connor, 23, from Pontardawe, Neath Port Talbot, admitted three charges of killing a deer at night. He was sentenced to nine weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
  • Pheon Radford, 22, from Pentre, Rhondda Cynon Taff admitted one charge of killing a deer at night and one of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog. He was sentenced to 10 weeks in jail suspended for 12 months and 150 hours of unpaid work.
  • Ryan Robinson, 20, of Foundry Court, Chudleigh, Devon, admitted one charge of killing a deer at night and one of taking a deer without the consent of the owner. He was given a 12-month community order and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
  • Philip Cross, 36, of Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taff, was found guilty of one charge of killing a deer at night and one of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog by failing to get it treated for a fractured leg. He was jailed for eight weeks and disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.
  • Daniel Ravenscroft, 37, of Grange Road, Buckfast, was found guilty of one charge of killing a deer at night. He was sentenced to six weeks in jail suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

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