Trio convicted over dog-fights

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The Independent Online

A mother-of-three was found guilty today of being involved in one of Europe's largest dog-fighting syndicates, the RSPCA said.

Claire Parker, 44, was convicted alongside Mohammed Farooq, 33, and a 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, at Lincoln Magistrates' Court.

The trio, who were involved in a dog-fighting ring which spanned the country, were found guilty by a district judge after an investigation by the BBC's Panorama programme.

It 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.

Mohammed Farooq, 33, of Daniels Road, Bordesley Green, Birmingham, was found guilty on two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and possessing training equipment for dog-fighting.

The youth was convicted on two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, and keeping dog-fighting equipment.

Both he and Farooq earlier admitted owning banned a pit bull.

They were the time-keepers at the fight at Parker's home.

The RSPCA said it was one of the biggest cases of dog-fighting it had ever prosecuted.

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA's special operations unit, said: "Dog-fighting is a barbaric and cruel so-called sport which belongs in the Dark Ages and horrific suffering is caused to the dogs involved.

"Those that continue to pursue this activity should understand that the RSPCA and the police will continue to bring those responsible before the courts."



During the trial, the court was shown a video of the BBC programme Inside Out in which an undercover reporter called Steve Ibinson can be seen chatting to 38-year-old Gary Adamson, a keen dog-fighter.

The reporter met Adamson after he started drinking with the Farmers Boys, a dog-fighting gang based in a small town called Tandragee, in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The reporter has since died in Afghanistan but District Judge Richard Blake was shown graphic footage of a dog-fight in Finland attended by Adamson.

Ibinson said: "He (Adamson) sees himself as the Don King (boxing promoter) of pit bulls. He was very relaxed in the company of the Farmers Boys, who made it clear that he was their guy in the North East of the UK.

"For the Farmers Boys he was part of one of the biggest dog-fighting syndicates in Europe."

Ibinson went on to describe how one fight left some of the dogs involved so badly injured that they would have had to be put down.

He added: "The last dog in that incident was killed by putting on to its tail a crocodile clip and another one on to its ear and then connecting it to the main electrical system."

Footage, filmed secretly by Ibinson, also showed Adamson playing with three of his pit bull dogs.

In one clip Adamson, a part-time odd-job man, said he was looking for a swimming tank in which he could train his dogs.

He kept them at the side of his house in Yarm, North Yorkshire, in reinforced pens.

Claire Parker was caught after Adamson told Ibinson about a fight at the home of John Parker, who was known as "Odd Bodd".

Parker invited Adamson and his dog Pablo for a fight in a garage at his house after changing the location of the match at the last minute.

It was at the Parkers' house in Lincolnshire that Farooq and the youth acted as time-keepers, while Claire Parker was accused of knowingly letting the fights take place.

Her husband was already banned from keeping dogs and had convictions for dog-fighting, the court heard during the week-long trial.

When police officers and RSPCA inspectors raided the Parkers' home they found treadmills, veterinary equipment and breaking sticks used to separate dogs during fights.

They also discovered scales and harnesses for the dogs, which were kept in separate pens to prevent them attacking each other, as well as a bloodstained dog-fighting pit constructed in the garage of the house.

Adamson told the reporter that, during the fight in the Parkers' house, Pablo received a "ragging" during a fight with a dog called Chief, which was owned by a man called Kenneth King.

Adamson claimed Pablo lost because he was travel-sick on the journey to Lincolnshire.

He was still badly scarred around the muzzle, head and hind quarters when Ibinson next visited Adamson's house.

But despite this, Adamson did not seek professional veterinary help, preferring to treat the animal himself.

In his statement, Ibinson added: "The dog was lethargic and looked very swollen, dehydrated and did not want to come out of its kennel. It also had staples over some of its wounds.

"Dog-fighting's greatest myth is that time will heal dogs, but this dog needed veterinary treatment, which it had been denied."

Gary Adamson, 38, of Ramsey Crescent, Yarm, North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to six charges in connection with illegal dog-fighting last week.

Kenneth King, 35, of Main Street, Ragnall, Newark, Nottinghamshire, admitted eight charges related to fighting banned pit bull terriers during the same hearing.

Owen Batey, 40, of Cannock Road, Middlesbrough, 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, was told he would probably receive a community sentence during the same hearing after he pleaded guilty to one charge of keeping a banned dog.

All seven will be sentenced on September 25.