A policeman yesterday described the "blood curdling howls" which alerted him to a dog fight taking place in a Birmingham kitchen appliance shop.

Pc Paul Foster told Birmingham Magistrates' Court he would never forget the noises made by two pit bull terriers which were being forced into a fight to the death.

The officer told the court he was investigating the premises on Alum Rock Road as there was music and cheering coming from the building. However, when he inspected the rear of the property, he became suspicious that a dog fight was taking place as he heard dogs squealing in pain, he said.

The noise of the animals was occasionally drowned out by the cheers of 26 men who were alleged to have attended the illegal event.

"It was like a football crowd, but not like a chant," Pc Foster said. "I could describe it as something that was used to show their applause at something that occurred in the fight. Every time I heard the blood curdling howls of an animal, the cheer and applause would be at its peak."

The constable said the noise of the animals was "one of the most distinct" he had ever heard in his life.

And he also added that the sound was "ten times worse than if you trod on a dog's paw".

He said it was very clear that the dogs were in distress.

Sixteen men have already pleaded guilty to attending the dog fight and another ten deny the charges. Among them are Mamoon Iftikar Ahmed (24) and Umar Iftikar Ahmed (26), both of Phipson Road, Small Heath, who also deny charges of keeping premises for fighting.

Barket Hussain (42), of Unett Street, Smethwick, and Intikab Hussain (31), of Sladefield Road, Ward End, deny charges of being present at a dog fight, causing the dogs to fight, possessing a pit bull terrier and causing unnecessary suffering.