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A fox trapped in a small cage was killed after the gang set dogs on it RSPCA

The leader of a gang which forced dogs to illegally fight and kill wild animals – including a fox, badger, pig and deer – has been jailed for 20 weeks.

Graham Coombes, 41, from Abbey Road, Bovey Tracy, Devon, was also disqualified from owning dogs for life after being convicted of eight counts related to animal cruelty.

Ten other men have admitted or were found guilty of a total of 19 offences relating to animal fighting orchestrated by the gang.

The prosecution said the primary motivation of the gang "seems to be gratuitous pleasure", with some of the exploits being filmed on mobile phones.

The attacks on the animals included a dog killing a fox while it was trapped in a tiny cage, Plymouth magistrates' court heard.

Photographs also showed a dog with its mouth and neck ripped open by a badger, while a video filmed by the gang saw a dog tearing a deer to shreds in an open field. In one incident, dogs were even set on a pig.

Several members of the gang covered faces with their hands as footage was shown in court, the BBC reported.

District Judge Diana Baker said to Coombes during his sentencing on Tuesday (6 November): "You are the ringleader of organised animal hunting and killing and you had no regard to the welfare of these animals. You were videoing it and you were clearly excited by what was happening."

The sentencing of the other gang members continues.