Belfast Telegraph

OAPs aged 76 and 70 deny charges of illegal cockfighting

By George Jackson

Two pensioners have appeared in court charged with cockfighting offences.

William John Turner (76), from Gortreade Road in Swatragh, Maghera, and Robert Bennett (70), from Waddells Hill in Comber, Co Down, appeared at Londonderry Crown Court yesterday.

Mr Turner replied "not guilty" to two charges of causing or attempting to cause a cockfight to take place contrary to the Welfare of Animals Act 2011.

He also replied "not guilty" to two charges of permitting premises to be used for cockfights, and "not guilty" to one charge of attending a cockfight.

The offences are alleged to have occurred in June and July of 2012. Mr Bennett denied two charges of attending cockfights, also in June and July of 2012.

The arraignment of Turner's son Barry Turner, also of Gortreade Road, who faces two charges of permitting premises to be used for cockfights, was adjourned after his barrister submitted that there was no evidence that he was involved in the alleged illegal activity.

All three defendants were released on continuing bail until the case is mentioned again on January 25.

Defence barrister Seamus McNeill, who represents Mr Turner senior, told Judge Philip Babington that the case was a complicated one involving a potential legal issue as to how the prosecution came by the video evidence it possesses.

"Consideration has to be given to a potential third party disclosure application involving the BBC," he said.

"Apparently, it appears at least one of the videos the Public Prosecution Service may rely on in this case may have been used as part of some television programme prior to the video being given to the prosecution. There seems to be an issue regarding that.

"Also, it is my understanding one of the main prosecution witnesses in this case himself is currently facing charges before the Crown Court in Newry in respect of allegations of a dishonesty nature.

"The outcome of that prosecution would have a considerable bearing on aspects of this particular case.

"The trial in that matter is due to take place later this month."

Belfast Telegraph

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