Four jailed over dog-fighting ring

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Four people were jailed today for their part in one of Europe's largest dog-fighting syndicates.

Claire Parker, 44, who was convicted earlier this month of holding dog-fights at her home in Lincolnshire, was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison.

Three co-defendants were jailed for between 23 and the maximum 26 weeks for the animal cruelty offences.

Lincoln Magistrates' Court heard that the ring was smashed following an investigation by the BBC's Panorama programme.

District judge Richard Blake said: "There's widespread public objection at these sorts of offences of the sadistic abuse of animals for entertainment.

"The dogs in this case are not in any way pets - they are animals used for sadistic entertainment and perverted pleasure."

Parker was banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

The court found that the syndicate had links to a gang in Northern Ireland, with paramilitary connections, who supplied illegal American pit bull dogs.

Members of the ring attended fights as far away as Finland.

Parker, of Kexby Lane, Kexby, Lincolnshire, a mother of three young children, was found guilty of holding a fight in the garage at her home, which she shared with her husband, John Parker. He has since died in prison.

She was found guilty of being present at a dog-fight, keeping a premises for dog-fighting and possessing three pit bull dogs. She denied all the charges.

* Gary Adamson, 38, of Ramsey Crescent, Yarm, North Yorkshire, who pleaded guilty to six charges in connection with illegal dog-fighting, was given 23 weeks in prison.

* Mohammed Farooq, 33, of Daniels Road, Bordesley Green, Birmingham, who was found guilty on two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and possessing training equipment for dog-fighting, was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 26 weeks.

* Owen Batey, 40, of Cannock Road, Middlesbrough, was given 23 weeks in jail, having admitted setting two pit bulls on each other, being present at a dog-fight and owning a pit bull.

* Christopher Burgess, 42, of Longstone Way, Ladybrook, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, who pleaded guilty to one charge of keeping a banned dog, received 160 hours' community service.

Both Adamson and Batey were banned from keeping animals for life.