A group of 15 men have admitted being involved with a horrific dog fight in Birmingham – the largest seen in England for the last 140 years.
Police swooped on a kitchen appliance shop in Alum Rock where it is alleged 25 men were watching a bloody fight which resulted in the death of two pit bulls. Among those who admitted guilt today was Waqqas Mughal, who owned one of the dogs involved with what was described as "a fight to the death".
On a video uncovered by police involved in the raid of the premises in February 2006, Mughal was heard urging his dog, Elvis, to "shake" his opponent with his jaws. The 18-year-old was also heard clapping and shouting "that's my boy" as the fight became more savage.
When police arrived at the venue for the fight, on Alum Rock Road, the men attempted to hide one of the dogs in the ceiling, Birmingham Magistrates Court heard.
However, after this failed he was pushed into a kitchen cupboard and was found covered in blood on a video tape. He died later that evening from his injuries.
The court heard that the other dog was in such poor health it had to put down 48 hours later "in the interests of humanity".
"The dogs were plainly being pushed to utter exhaustion and at the end of the fight, we can hear from people watching on the video that one was simply chewing the other one," said Nick Sutton, prosecuting for the RSPCA.
He added: "The men who were at that premises on that day were clearly there to witness a fight that was organised by someone in that room. This is not the sort of thing that happens overnight. It is not the sort of thing that people walk into by accident.
"When people were interviewed by police they said they thought they were going to a booze party, or that a friend invited them.
"But it seems that they came to a kitchen sales room after closing hours where there was no alcohol and only a small amount of cannabis. If it was a party, it was not a particularly good one to put it mildly."
The second dog involved with the fight was owned by 40-year-old Zahoor Hussain, of Foley Road, Ward End, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing of charges of causing the dogs to fight, being present at a dog fight, possessing a pit bull terrier and causing unnecessary suffering.
Mughal, of Unett Street, Smethwick, West Midlands pleaded guilty to the same charges today during the opening of the case. The crowded court room was shown graphic video footage of the fight, in which Mughal and other defendants were seen joking with each other.
The court room heard squeals of pain as they watched the dogs bite each other so badly that one was left covered in blood with barely any hair around its face.
Describing the fight as similar to a boxing match, Mr Sutton said: "The fight going on was an extensive fight. It was a fight to the death."
The court heard that a carpeted fighting pit – created by arranging kitchen units – a stereo, small kitchen, medical kits, an electronic treadmill and portable kennels were discovered in the premises.
A number of video tapes were also seized from cameras positioned throughout the room.
Intikab Hussain, aged 31, of Sladefield Road, Ward End, was alleged to have been the referee in the fight. However, he denies similar charges to Mughal and Hussain.
The court heard that a total of 26 men where arrested and taken to a police station in a double decker bus. One of the men accused of attending the dog fight, Imran Arif, 29, of Sandway Gardens, Washwood Heath, Birmingham, did not attend the hearing due to an injury, the court heard. He had pleaded not guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing.
Mughal's father, Barkat Hussain, 42, of Unett Street, Smethwick, denies attending a dog fight, a charge of an owner permitting unnecessary suffering, possessing a pit bull and causing two dogs to fight. A total of 14 defendants today changed their pleas to guilty. Another 10 deny they attended a dog fight.
The case is the largest dealt by the RSPCA in terms of defendants since 1867. Pit bulls are banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.