Kent men sentenced over 'high-level' cockfighting

Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
Hundreds of birds were found at the travellers' site

Two men have been handed suspended jail sentences after they admitted forcing cockerels to fight to the death.

Bill Ripley, 46, and Moses Brinkley, 62, both of Claywood Lane in Bean, Kent were investigated by the RSPCA and police after videos were seen online.

The charity said the cockfighting was both "high level and organised" and one of the biggest cases it had seen.

The pair admitted animal cruelty charges and were sentenced at Bexleyheath Magistrates' Court.

Ripley was given a 14-week sentence, suspended for a year, and Brinkley a 10-week term, suspended for a year.

RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport said the charity joined police in executing warrants at the travellers' site in Bean in March last year and 242 birds were found, as well as fighting "paraphernalia" such as spurs and muffs, and books on the blood sport.

Officers downloaded videos of cockfights from social media accounts and mobile phones, he added.

One video showed a fight continue for 10 minutes until one bird was drenched in blood and the other collapsed, struggling to breathe, he added.

Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
Relatives said the travellers' community were not cruel to animals

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Lamport said: "These people have walked away with a very light sentence."

However, Brinkley's daughter Violet Smith said the men, who lived on a travellers' site, had been treated unfairly.

She said: "That is a travellers' community thing to keep animals. We aren't cruel to animals. We're the type of people who put food out for animals. I don't think it's fair."

Ripley and Brinkley each pleaded guilty to three charges of being present at an animal fight, one offence of keeping a premises for use in an animal fight and one offence of keeping animals for use in fighting.

The charges include five fights between July 2016 and March last year, during which two birds were killed, the court heard.

The men were ordered to undertake rehabilitation, pay £865 in costs, and were disqualified for two years from keeping game fowl.

Ripley was also given a two-month curfew.

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