Sussex Police and RSPCA obtain illegal profits from cockfighting offenders

Co-operation between Sussex Police and the RSPCA which disrupted an illegal cock fighting ring based in West Sussex has enabled £10,000 in ill-gotten gains to be returned to legitimate society.

Mark Giles, 49, of Oak Tree Farm, Wisborough Green, and his son, also named Mark, 27, of Lower Gillmans Farm in nearby Billingshurst, had been convicted at Brighton Magistrates Court on 17 October 2012 after pleading guilty to an RSPCA prosecution for keeping birds for use or in connection with cock fights, possession of various items designed or adapted for use in connection with animal fights, causing unnecessary suffering to chickens, and failing to take reasonable steps to ensure their needs were met.

They were both sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years in addition to an unpaid work requirement. They also received lifetime bans on the keeping of birds, with no appeal for 12 years.

Following a lengthy investigation by the RSPCA, Sussex Police had assisted the RSPCA in making the arrests in August 2011, when the RSPCA executed two warrants at the addresses where both parties were arrested for cock fighting offences and keeping birds for the purpose of cock fighting. At Mark junior’s address a cock fighting pit was discovered in addition to a large number of publications relating to cock fighting in addition to other paraphernalia relating to this activity. 49 adult game cocks were also taken into RSPC custody. A sum of £25,800 in bank notes was also seized from this property, which was subsequently detained by Crawley Magistrates under The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) whilst it’s origin was investigated.

A large number of items were also seized from Mark senior’s property in addition to nearly 200 cocks and hens and a number of bird eggs.

However after the sentences in 2012, a specialist Sussex Police financial crime investigator worked with the RSPCA to look into the origin of the money seized, and it was agreed that any available money subsequently confiscated by the
court under POCA would be shared between the police and the RSPCA.

On 25 July last year at Horsham Magistrates Court the magistrates granted a Forfeiture Order under POCA in the sum of £20,800 agreeing that it was the proceeds of the Giles’ criminal activity

Under POCA half of such money forfeited goes automatically to central government funds, and the remaining 50% is returned to Sussex Police. In this case the money has now been obtained and is being shared between the police who use it to help fund further asset recovery work, and the RSPCA to go towards prevention of cruelty and promotion of kindness to animals.

Detective Inspector Mick Richards of Sussex Police said: “The RSPCA asked us to help look into the source of the money and we were glad to help. Our financial investigator Kay Rogers did an excellent job which satisfied the court that the money was obtained from crime. Much of our financial work involves drug trafficking and fraud but this case shows that POCA can be used to help target a wide variety of criminal activity.”

Chief Superintendent Barry Fryer of RSPCA’s Specialist Operations Unit said: “The RSPCA wishes to thank Sussex Police and particularly Kay Rogers of the Financial Investigation team for her work, making it possible for the RSPCA and animal welfare to benefit from this money. It is entirely fitting but perhaps somewhat ironic that the money seized from those convicted in this case should now go towards promoting kindness and preventing cruelty to animals”.

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