Men sentenced on cockfighting charges

Two men charged with cruelty to animals were sentenced this week after admitting involvement in the staging of cockfighting in Grand Cayman.

Defence attorney John Furniss said the men came from countries in which cockfighting as a sport is common practice. Luis Francisco Grateraux, 51, is from Dominica. Yunio Abril Blanco, 33, is from Cuba.

Furniss said the men were before the court together because of the similar nature of the charges.

Grateraux originally faced five counts of cruelty to animals and four counts of importing restricted pharmaceuticals. He pleaded guilty to keeping, using or acting in the management of roosters for fighting in the North Sound Estates area on March 21, 2018. He also admitted dispensing a restricted medication after one of the importation charges was amended.

This defendant had always accepted possession of the medication, but maintained that he obtained it on island.

Blanco pleaded guilty to one charge of keeping, using or acting in the management of roosters used for fights. This offence occurred on June 6, 2018, in the North Sound Road area.

On Wednesday, Crown counsel Emma Hutchinson told Magistrate Grace Donalds that police went with officers of the Department of Agriculture to a George Town premises where they found 42 roosters in coops without food or water.

Some of the poultry had various parts of their body shaved. Some were missing their wattles and combs.

There was an enclosed circle on the property with a rooster in it, she said, along with utensils commonly used for cockfighting.

A veterinarian who was called to the scene said that, due to injuries and the removal of body parts, the animals could not be rehabilitated.

When interviewed, Blanco commented, “It’s just a sport.” He admitted shaving the roosters and said he did so to make them look pretty.

In Grateraux’s case, many of the roosters had also been shaved, with their wattles and combs removed. Some had recent wounds and two were blind in one eye. They had to be euthanised.

The last time Grateraux “did a cockfight” was either March 11 in East End or March 18, 2017 in North Side, he said. He refused to say how much money was paid for a cockfight.

Furniss said the defendants now understood that what they were doing was against the law, and they accepted that ignorance of the law was no excuse. He asked that they receive conditional discharges and the seized goods be confiscated.

Hutchinson asked the court to consider how much it had cost the Department of Agriculture to maintain the roosters before they were euthanised. Furniss objected, saying officers could have taken photos of the animals before they were disposed of.

The magistrate conditionally discharged both men – the condition being that they keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the next 12 months. They were also restricted from owning any poultry. She ordered forfeiture of all seized paraphernalia. Blanco is to pay $250 compensation to the Department of Agriculture and Grateraux is to pay $500.

All other charges against the two men were either withdrawn or left on file to be either dealt with or dismissed after a period of time. Such charges included ill treatment of the roosters by removal of their wattles, combs or spurs, and confinement in conditions that would cause unnecessary suffering.