Dad and sons 'guilty' of dog fighting

Published Tuesday, 14 January 2014
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A father and two sons from east Belfast have pleaded guilty to charges linked to animal cruelty and animal fighting.

Dad and sons 'guilty' of dog fighting
Items seized by the police have been put on display. (© PSNI)

Jeremiah Kirkwood, 43, and his sons Christopher, 23, and Wayne, 20, who are all from Island Street, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court on Tuesday.

All three originally faced a total of 15 charges, but after pleading guilty to three charges each, the remaining counts were left on the books.

Each of the three men admitted to causing unnecessary suffering to four terrier cross puppies on dates between 1 November and 28 November, 2011.

They also pleaded guilty to possession of items for use in connection with an animal fight, namely a CD7 battery pack, handheld lamps, a green dog harness and an animal trap.

The trio also admitted a charge of keeping or training animals for a animal fight on dates between 10 July and 28 November, 2011.

The final charge relates to four bull lurcher dogs.

A co-accused, Jamie Edward Morrow, 19 and from McAllister Court in Belfast, originally faced three charges.

Two of these were left on the books after he admitted a charge of keeping or training an animal for a fight, namely a whippet cross Staffordshire bull terrier, on 27 November.

After the guilty pleas were entered, Judge Donna McColgan ordered that pre-sentence reports be prepared for all four men.

The Judge agreed to release them on continued bail but said: "This is no indication of the likely outcome of the case," which will be heard before the same court on 21 February, 2014.

Also appearing in the dock of the same court was Catherine Kirkwood, from Island Street in Belfast, who is the wife of Jeremiah and mother of Wayne and Christopher.

The 43-year old originally faced a total of 15 charges linked to animal cruelty and animal fighting.

A jury was sworn in to hear the case, but a prosecutor told the Judge and jury that the Crown would be offering no evidence against her.

Judge McColgan directed the jury to find Catherine Kirkwood not guilty of all the charges against her and when they were discharged, Kirkwood was told she was free to go.

Following Tuesday's court case, Detective Inspector Peter Mullan issued a statement, which read: "The corresponding police investigation has taken over two years and a significant amount of time and energy has been invested in bringing these individuals before the court.

"A partnership approach has been key to this process and I would like to thank the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA), the Scottish SPCA, the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and members of the local community for their support."

DI Mullan added: "Police will continue to follow up all reports of animal cruelty linked to fighting offences, and when we are made aware of a possible breach in the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 or Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011 for fighting offences, an investigating officer is assigned to carry out enquiries."

Offences against animals, such as domestic pets, should be reported to the animal welfare officer in local councils. Any suspected organised fighting offences should be reported to police on 0845 600 8000.

Any concerns or information in relation to animal cruelty on farm animals should be reported to the DARD.

© UTV News
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36 Comments
elena buga in belfast wrote (76 days ago):
I cried enough and I couldn't cry no more when I read about dog fighting and I couldn't believe its happening in Belfast they just want be loved its in their nature ,esp a doog tortured by owner and left to dead was found by RSPCA but have the streingt to try to lick the hand then died with gratitude by wagging rest of tail he had he just wanted be loved and never had that as he was a fighting dog who lost I feel like crying again. There has to be something that has to be done about it not talking streingt the punishment up to 5000 pounds on spot if u caught with any evidence of dog fighting and up to 5 years prison if convicted ,its unbelievable som like this can be happening ,they can't walk out and think its normal to do that ,we need transmit a clear message to whoever does that it will not remain unpunished .also regular controls in areaa thought to be happening this .rewards for any info leading to dog fighting activities .this can be stopped if we all step in I can't just stand and do nothing I love animals too much ,I can't believe anybody will ever hurt an animal and be capable of som like that p!ease let's stop this .now
Andrew Nicholl in Belfast wrote (224 days ago):
Why doesn't this article tell the whole story?
Peter in Belfast wrote (224 days ago):
Paul Campbell: wise up. Setting a dog on a cat or dog fighting itself is abuse of the animal's trust in us. These are domesticated animals and put total trust in us to look after them . One again: wise up.
Michael in BT14 wrote (224 days ago):
Paul Campbell: aren't you old enough to know the word YOUR from the contraction YOU"RE??
mal in belfast wrote (224 days ago):
Vile people, need to be taught a lesson
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