Two men are to be sentenced following the discovery of what the RSPCA has described as “one of Britain’s biggest cockfighting operations.”
Inspectors found more than 500 birds, including 97 mature fighting cocks, at two farms run by a West Sussex father and son.
Mark Harry Giles and his son Mark Anthony Giles, both from Billingshurst, have pleaded guilty to charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. They will be sentenced on Wednesday 17 October at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.
The pair were charged with, alongside other offences, causing unnecessary suffering to a total of 82 birds.
Inspectors found dietary supplements and empty steroid vials used to increase the cocks’ strength and stamina.
The RSCPA also found over 60 pairs of metal spurs which are attached to birds’ feet to increase damage that can be inflicted.
They also found leg muffs, leg bands, beak muzzles and other veterinary items. Mark Anthony Giles was also charged with possession of a cockfighting pit.
Inspectors found cockfighting magazines in which Mark Giles Sr was photographed at competitions in Brazil and the Philippines where the blood sport is popular.
Cockfighting has been illegal in England and Wales since 1835.
Dave Long, the RSPCA inspector who led the raid, told The Sunday Times that “groups of up to a dozen men would gather to watch four-minute bouts at the two sites,” and that the cockfighting pits they found were “stained with blood”.