'Cruel and barbaric' cockfighters jailed

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The Independent Online
Three men arrested when police and RSPCA officers swooped on a cockfight were yesterday jailed for what were described as "cruel and barbaric" offences.

Stipendiary magistrate Ian Gillespie told them, and three other offenders at Durham City court, that it was "quite incredible that on the eve of the 21st century I should be dealing with such illegal and barbaric practices".

William Ross, 49, of Kelloe, Co Durham, was jailed for four months after admitting cruelty to a cockerel by causing it to fight, permitting premises to be used for cockfighting, and possessing equipment for cockfighting use.

Joseph Kelbie, 34, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, and John Hawthorn, 42, of Murton, Co Durham, were sentenced to 10 weeks and eight weeks respectively after admitting to having assisted in cockfighting. All three were banned for life from owning cockerels.

Kelbie's offence, the magistrate said, was aggravated by the fact that he took four birds to fight, and had his eight-year-old son with him.

The court was told that the men had been arrested when police and RSPCA officers swooped on an allotment shed near Ross's home in Kelloe on 19 March last year. Two cockerels were fighting in a ring with more than a dozen men standing watching.

Thomas Waugh, 32, David Littley, 34, and John Bell, 27, all from Co Durham, admitted being present at a cockfight. Bell was fined pounds 800, and Waugh and Littley pounds 200 each, plus costs.

All six men pleaded guilty.