A MAN who organised cockfights in Poole and allowed children to watch has been jailed for 18 weeks.

Martyn Dashwood, 32, took part in the banned blood sport in a misguided attempt to gain “status” as he is obsessive and has mental health issues, Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday.

The father-of-three was caught after police confiscated his mobile phones in connection with another offence and found videos of the fights, which took place chiefly at his own properties in Poole between September 2011 and March 2013.

Further videos, including footage of his fighting bird ‘JB’, were later found on his laptop.

“Through your numerous actions you were instrumental in arranging or attempting to arrange fights, and you allowed young children to be present and involved, normalising such behaviour in their young minds,” the magistrates said, acknowledging he had an “obsession” with cockfighting.

“Young birds only two weeks old were subjected to this barbaric, illegal act.”

Dashwood, of Oak Drive, admitted two counts of causing unnecessary cruelty to a cock. The court heard that in one of the videos he could be heard describing how a bird’s eye was “almost out”.

He admitted six counts of causing an animal fight to take place in both Belben Road and Oak Drive, and eight counts of being present at animal fights in Belben Road, Bere Road, Coldharbour, and elsewhere in Dorset between December 2011 and April 2013.

A number of young children watched the fights and took part in separating the birds.

In mitigation, James Moore said Dashwood was “manipulated to a certain extent” as he was “very easily persuaded” on account of his mental health issues, which include depression, anxiety and ADHD.

“He isn’t the architect of this, he is the simple man who was willing to look after these animals and provide a place where the fights took place,” he said.

“This was a primitive way for him to get some form of status.”

Dashwood was also banned for life from keeping birds.

The case had seven hearings and was twice delayed after the defendant, who was jailed for 12 weeks at Christmas after admitting knocking out a 15-year-old boy, demonstrated a lack of respect toward the bench.

Pleased with sentence

RSPCA inspector Graham Hammond said: “We are pleased he got a custodial sentence.

“It sends a message that cockfighting will not be accepted.

“It is barbaric, and suffering isn’t limited to the fighting as the birds are often not kept in ideal conditions.

“The ban on keeping birds will hopefully prevent anything like this from happening again.”

He said further prosecutions were under way in connection with the case.