A father and son from Oxfordshire have admitted a string of dog fighting offences following a major investigation into organised animal crime by the RSPCA’s special operations unit.
Ian and Danny Draper pleaded guilty to keeping and training dogs at their homes with the intention of entering them into brutal dog fights. The pair’s girlfriends, Katy Davies and Laura Hornsby, also appeared before Swindon Magistrates Court where they pleaded guilty to related offences.
Today (Wednesday) Laura Hornsby was disqualified from keeping dogs for 12 months and ordered to pay £300 in costs. She was also given a three-year conditional discharge. Katy Davies was ordered to pay a £300 fine, £300 in costs and a £65 surcharge.
Sentencing of Ian and Danny Draper was adjourned until Thursday 20 October 2011. The district judge described dog fighting as “barbaric” and warned Ian and Danny Draper he was considering jail sentences and lengthy bans preventing them from keeping dogs.
Footage seized during Operation Icarus showed Danny Draper, filmed by his father Ian Draper, during a trip to a Bulgarian yard where dogs were kept for fighting. Other material found at Danny Draper’s former Swindon home on Butterworth Street showed a graphic dog fight involving a pit bull type dog called Ozzy, who was also seized from the property. Another pit bull terrier type dog called Boss (pictured below) was seized from his home, along with three other bull terriers (Yew, bull terrier, pictured right). Boss was named in reports of dog fights featured in magazines discovered at the Swindon address.
Ian Draper, 47, was in the middle of a 10-year ban on keeping dogs, following a previous dog fighting conviction, when RSPCA and police officers carried out a warrant in December 2009 at his home, at Sylvester Close, Burford, which he shared with Davies, 33. They discovered an emaciated bull terrier type dog, as well as a break stick, which are commonly used to separate fighting dogs. The break stick found at Ian Draper’s property was covered in bite marks, indicating it had been well used.
Other evidence seized from Ian Draper’s home led the officers from the RSPCA’s special operations unit to his son Danny, who was also suspected of being involved in organised dog fighting. A warrant was carried out in April 2010 at an address in Butterworth Street, Swindon, where Danny Draper, aged 25, lived at the time with his girlfriend Laura Hornsby, 24. Inspectors discovered five dogs – including three with scars consistent with dog fighting – as well as a treadmill used to train dogs, and numerous dog fighting books and magazines.
Analysis of mobile telephones and computers seized from both Ian and Danny Draper further revealed their involvement in organised dog fighting. It also led RSPCA inspectors to John Hamerston, from Bournemouth. He was given a 12-month ban on keeping dogs, a three-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of more than £8,300 when he was sentenced in January this year. Hamerston admitted a number of charges, including keeping and training dogs for fighting.
Chief inspector Mike Butcher, of the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: “A huge number of hours were dedicated to this investigation and it quickly became clear there were more people than just Ian Draper involved.
“These men are obsessed with dog fighting, as shown by the distances they were prepared to travel across Europe to pursue their interest. However, the simple fact is that dog fighting is one of the most extreme, deliberate and premeditated forms of animal cruelty the RSPCA investigates.
“While Davies and Hornsby may not have been directly involved with fighting or training the dogs, their actions certainly aided Ian and Danny Draper, who were responsible for doing so.
“Some people may be surprised that the world of organised dog fighting still exists, and the sight of two dogs ripping each other apart would leave any right minded person sickened. However, this case just goes to prove that organised animal crime spreads far and wide and we won’t shy away from bringing those responsible to court.”
Danny Draper admitted five charges including joint possession of dogs contrary to section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, jointly keeping and training dogs for connection with an animal fight, possession of items in connection with an animal fight and jointly causing unnecessary suffering to two dogs, while Hornsby admitted one charge of jointly causing unnecessary suffering to a dog.
Ian Draper admitted seven charges including breaching a 10-year disqualification order on keeping dogs, jointly causing unnecessary suffering to a dog, failing to meet the basic welfare needs of a dog, keeping and training animals in connection with animal fighting and possession of items to be used in connection with animal fighting. Davies pleaded guilty to one charge of aiding and abetting Ian Draper to breach his ban on keeping dogs.
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