Two men from Bean who posted barbaric cockfighting videos online bragging about the brutal bloodsport have appeared in court to face a string of animal welfare offences.
Bill Ripley, 45, of Claywood Lane, Bean, and Moses Brinkley, 61, of Claywood Lane, Bean, both appeared at Bexleyheath Magistrates’ Court on Monday (January 8).
They were charged with nine and seven offences respectively under the Animal Welfare Act after the RSPCA’s special operations unit investigated graphic videos showing bloodied birds fighting aggressively on Facebook.
Brinkley pleaded guilty to three of five offences 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.
Ripley admitted three of six offences 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.
He denied possessing spurs and muffs – both aids used in training or fighting cockerels.
The pleas were accepted and the case was adjourned for reports.
The men are due back at the same court for sentencing on March 19.
Videos were linked to an account in the name of ‘Shamo Bill’, believed to be Bill Ripley.
Material he had posted on this account suggested he was breeding, keeping, selling and fighting cockerels.
RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport, who led the investigation, said: "We joined police officers as they executed warrants at three plots on a travellers’ site in Bean, Kent, where we were able to identify some of the ‘venues’ shown online in the fighting videos.
"We downloaded a lot of evidence from Facebook while other videos were also found on mobile phones seized from the men during the warrants.
"The videos – some posted by ‘Shamo Bill’ online – show a number of different cockfights taking place at different venues including a makeshift pit next to a caravan.
"The men are clearly bragging about their pastime and their birds.
"In the videos you can hear voices saying: ‘The Ripley way’ and ‘Let me show you my little brother’.
"Other videos appear to show training techniques with cockerels being encouraged to attack dummy birds."
When officers executed the warrants, on March 9 last year, they found 242 cockerels at the site.
One hen, which was found with a nasty neck injury, was removed and rehomed by the charity.
Mobile phones seized from the site were forensically examined, uncovering many messages discussing breeding and fighting cockerels.
"One video, removed from a mobile phone, shows a fight which lasts 10 minutes," inspector Lamport said.
"The birds are seen sparring, flapping aggressively at each other and pecking at their opponent.
"They pull out mouthfuls of feathers and peck with their sharp beaks around the other bird’s eyes.
"It’s extremely brutal and barbaric watching. The birds are both panting, obviously exhausted, while the white-coloured cockerel is soaked in blood and the red bird repeatedly collapses following the intense and prolonged fight.
"Eight minutes and 30 seconds in, when one of the birds collapses, the man recording the video intervenes to part the birds so they can launch into the fight once again.
"He can be heard encouraging the bird to kill the other, saying: ‘You gotta do the job proper Mosquito, don’t leave him’.
"The red-coloured bird is then dragged out of the shot leaving the white cockerel as the winner as you hear multiple other birds crowing in the background."
It’s not clear, from the video evidence, what happened to these birds following the fight and whether either of them succumbed to their injuries.
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