‘Essex gang’ of four people convicted of training and fighting dogs across Europe [Warning: upsetting images]

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Four people from Essex, three men and one woman, have been convicted for their involvement in a dog fighting ring which organised fights spanning across England, the Republic of Ireland, and France.

Phillip Harris Ali, also known as Dr Death, from Chigwell, was found guilty of multiple offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, including keeping and training dogs for fights. Billy Leadley, alias GSK or Green Street Kennels, from Takeley, admitted to one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog’s injured tail and was found guilty of nine additional offences related to dog fighting.

Leadley’s wife, Amy Louise Leadley, was convicted of keeping premises for dog fighting. Another individual, Stephen Albert Brown from Chigwell, was also found guilty of offences related to training dogs for fights.

“I have seen homemade vet kits used by people that fight dogs before, this is because they will treat the dogs themselves rather than take the dogs to the vet”

 

The trial the culmination of a RSPCA investigation which started in August 2021, and was carried out by the charity’s Special Operations Unit – a taskforce which investigates serious and organised animal crime, including dog fighting. Once enough information was gathered, a warrant was executed by the Metropolitan Police at a Chigwell property.

Inspector Withnall said, who was present, said, “At the very end of the garden after the kennels was a garden room which housed two treadmills, which were plugged in and in working order. There was also a slat mill. These were clearly for dogs, each of them had a chain on them where you would attach a dog. One of the treadmills had a homemade wooden structure built on top of it which would have kept a dog secure.”

“I have seen the weighing unit, break sticks and flirt poles in dog fighting investigations before. The dogs will be weighed before a fight, the break sticks are to break the dogs apart when they are fighting and ‘locked on’, and the flirt poles are a training aid to get the dogs to jump up and strengthen their back legs.”

A vet kit was also seized, which Withnall described as “a substantial vet kit”.

“It contained items such as two skin staplers, an IV kit for fluids, bandages, needles, steroids, antibiotics, painkillers and medication. I have seen homemade vet kits used by people that fight dogs before, this is because they will treat the dogs themselves rather than take the dogs to the vet and raise suspicion.”

A mobile phone seized at the scene would turn out to be a gold mine of evidence, as it contained communications about dog fighting as well as images of scarred or injured dogs, as well as other damning evidence – including details of planned fights in France, Ireland, and an unknown location in England.

“A total of nineteen dogs were seized across three properties, including several bully-type dogs who were kept in poor conditions in a garage”

Speaking outside of court following the verdicts, SOU investigator Chief Inspector Ian Muttitt said, “The mobile phone was a goldmine of information and evidence. It contained graphic videos and images of brutal dog fights, match reports following organised fights, information relating to some of the men’s travel plans and accommodation for specific fights, as well as messages between a number of the defendants planning fights, talking about training regimes, and discussing the injuries dogs had suffered.”

A total of nineteen dogs were seized across three properties, including several bully-type dogs who were kept in poor conditions in a garage.

Amy and Billy Leadley, Phillip Ali and Stephen Brown will all appear at Chelmsford Crown Court on 3 June for sentencing.

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