Dr Death and 'barbaric' dog fighting ring which included a personal trainer and hairdresser jailed

Three dogs being kept in kennels in the garden of Phillip Harris Ali's home
-Credit: (Image: RSPCA)


Members of a dog-fighting ring, including a ringleader known as Dr Death, have been sentenced to prison for a string of animal welfare offences. Dogs were subjected to harsh training regimes and starved to fighting weight before being forced into fights, sometimes resulting in death, Chelmsford Crown Court was told on Monday.

The dogs suffered severe injuries, including broken legs, and were kept in filthy conditions, often without access to clean drinking water or proper bedding, and left caged and alone for extended periods. Rather than seeking professional veterinary care for injured animals, the gang treated them with makeshift medical kits to avoid detection.

Judge Jamie Sawyer described the gang's actions as displaying "a shocking level of barbarism and callousness" towards the dogs involved. He stated that the fights, which occurred in England, Ireland, and France, were "highly planned and without a care for the welfare of the animals in question".

The judge told the defendants: "Dogs were treated as a commodity by each of you. They were playing pieces in your game."

Much of the crucial evidence in the case came from a phone belonging to Phillip Harris Ali, 67, of Manford Way, Chigwell, Essex, who was known as Dr Death. This included photos and videos of dogs and gruesome match reports detailing how the animals were set upon each other, sent via the encrypted messaging app Signal.

Phillip Harris Ali (left) and Stephen Brown (right)
Phillip Harris Ali (left) and Stephen Brown (right) -Credit:RSPCA/PA

Ali was sentenced to a total of five years for 10 offences under the Animal Welfare Act. Many of his crimes were committed while he was under licence conditions following a 2007 conviction for attempted murder.

His "right-hand man", Stephen Albert Brown, 57, of Burrow Road, Chigwell, Essex, was jailed for two years and six months after he was convicted of five offences under the Animal Welfare Act. He was the fighting ring's medicine man getting illegal veterinary medication and equipment and he was also involved in training dogs and arranging fights.

Personal trainer Billy Leadley, 38, who had a dog fighting pit at his home in Bambers Green, Takeley, Essex, was jailed for a total of four years for 12 different offences. The judge said reading a match report about a 58-minute fight that Leadley refereed, in which one of the animals suffered two broken legs, was "horrific".

His wife, hairdresser Amy Leadley, 39, was not directly involved in the ring, however she was sentenced for various offences linked to keeping a premises for dog-fighting and not caring for the animals properly. She was given an 18-month community order, 200 hours of unpaid work and 25 days of rehabilitation activity.

All four defendants were banned from keeping dogs for 10 years.