A MAN has been found guilty of breeding cockerels and forcing them to fight in a barn in Yapton.
Wayne Dean, 52, of Valentines Lea, Northchapel who formerly lived in Chichester, kept up to 27 game birds in pens on land just off Cinders Lane in Yapton.
When RSPCA officers inspected they found a bloodied carpet surrounded by hay bales in a barn which was used as a makeshift ‘fighting pit’.
Three of the animals were found with injuries to their face and head and were taken for treatment at Alphapet Veterinary Practice in Bognor.
Giving evidence at Chichester Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday, March 12), vet Richard Edwards said all three of the birds were missing parts of their comb and wattle, the fleshy red parts on the top of the head and hanging below the beak.
He said: “It was my opinion at the time, and it still is, that these injuries were most consistent with fighting with another bird.”
Speaking about the worst affected of the three, Mr Edwards said: “This bird’s wattle was badly damaged and had been cut in such a way that it had a blood clot in its base.
“While we were examining the bird it slightly flicked its head and it caused a fairly serious arterial bleed. Myself and a colleague were covered in blood and we had to anaesthetise the animal before we could cauterise the injury.”
Mr Edwards added that had they not managed to stop the bleeding the animal ‘would probably have died’.
The court was shown a video taken by RSPCA officer Will Rippon at the site. It showed the makeshift ring used for fighting which was splattered with blood and feathers, and a number of cockerels and hens kept in pens surrounding the barn which were found to be in a ‘fair’ condition with food and water.
Giving evidence, William Mitchell, RSPCA chief inspector, said the animals were an ‘oriental type of bird which has a history of fighting’.
A number of items were found in a nearby lorry including scissors, dog nail clippers, syringes, Vaseline, muffs to cover the spurs and a blood-stained cage to transport the birds.
“Found individually there might well be a perfectly good explanation for each of them. But as a collective it’s in my opinion clear that organised cock fighting was taking place,” Mr Mitchell said.
Dean told the court he had been collecting the birds for four years as a hobby and had intended to use them as show birds.
He claimed he had ‘dubbed’ the three injured birds, removing parts of their comb and wattle with scissors because of frostbite and believing it would cause the animals no pain. He said that explained the blood in the barn and that afterwards all three had been pecked by hens, causing the additional injuries.
Dean was found guilty of keeping a premise for use for an animal fight, keeping and training an animal for use in an animal fight, causing an animal fight to take place and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Passing the verdict, chair of the bench Dr Rosemary Ashford said: “We don’t believe Mr Dean’s account of how the blood and feathers got into the barn.
“All four charges we find to be proved to us by the prosecution beyond all reasonable doubt.”
Dean is due to be sentenced at Crawley Crown Court on March 27.