Seven Kings man convicted of running cockfights from his 'blood and feather splattered' home
PUBLISHED: 13:00 16 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:04 16 November 2017
A Seven Kings man has been convicted of turning his home into a cockfighting den, with people coming from as far as Coventry to watch the bloody bouts take place.
Mohammed Asab, 51, of Water Lane, was found guilty of causing an animal fight to take place, keeping and training an animal for use in connection with an animal fight, and keeping premises for use for an animal fight.
All the charges were brought forward after police officers uncovered shocking evidence of cockfighting during a visit to Asab’s house on January 2.
Four other men and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were also convicted of being present at an animal fight involving cockerels.
Handing down the verdict, District Judge Gary Lucie said: “There is no direct evidence that a cock fight took place on January 2, that is true. No eyewitnesses saw cock fighting taking place.
“The prosecution relies on circumstantial evidence that it took place and it is often thought that circumstantial evidence is wrong.
“Whilst a piece of circumstantial evidence may be insufficient, each piece can be seen a strand of rope.
“And with each piece the stronger the rope becomes until the evidence can be seen to prove the case to the criminal standard.”
Police searching Asab’s home found an injured cockerel inside a grey cat box, with blood and feathers splattered across the walls while another cockerel roamed freely.
Ten cockerels, two hens, two mobile phones, equipment associated with cockfighting and a blood covered towel were seized and removed from the scene.
Asab claimed he kept the birds to show as champions, eating the ‘left overs,’ and explained that the one in the cat box had been attacked by a fox.
He explained that he placed the bird inside the cat box to give to his co-defendant Altaf Hussein, 54, who had travelled from Coventry to meet him for the first time.
This explanation was dismissed by Judge Lucie in his closing speech.
He said: “Firstly, [Asab and Altaf] didn’t know each other. Why would Hussain want to take a bird that was suffering with injuries and ridden with mites?”
Under cross-examination, with the assistance of an interpreter, Hussain said that he had been at Asab’s house for 45 to 50 minutes before police arrived.
Denying that any cockfighting took place, he said: “We were just talking and singing and having a chat.”
“I was singing before they arrived and even when they were there I was still singing.”
Hazel Stevens, prosecuting for the RSPCA, presented to the court a photo found on Asab’s phone, taken on Christmas Day.
The photo showed four of the men on trial at Mr Asab’s home with one man, Mehtab Ahmed, being referred to as the “Grand Master” and clasping a cockerel statue in his hands.
Mr Ahmed explained that he this nickname was given to him sarcastically by being forced to sing by the other men, despite having a “normal” voice.
He added: “I’m not interested in fighting. I don’t like it.”
Mr Lucie addressed the men’s explanations for this photo with incredulity.
He said: “I accept that there had been no character explanation and I would be unable to conclude that there had been a cock fight that day.”
“But there clearly was a gathering of people who have an interest in keeping fighting cockerels.
“It was of a group presenting a cockfighting trophy to a grand master cockfighter.
“The idea that you win a cockerel for being the worst singer in the room is an insult to my intelligence.”
“The fact that he had them to sell as champions when he has never he has never entered them into a competition let alone won any competition.”
Mohamed Arif, 43, of Fairfield Road, Ilford; Akhtar Hussain, 47, of Greenhill Grove, Manor Park; Mehtab Ahmed, 41, of Celebration Way, Chingford; and Altaf Hussain, 54, of Parkstone Road, Coventry, were all found guilty of being present at an animal fight involving cockerels.
The 17-year-old was granted conditional discharge and a fine of £180.
The men will be sentenced at Barkingside Magistrates Court on December 7.