TWO Chesham men have been jailed and given a lifetime ban from keeping animals after admitting a series of offences related to illegal dog fighting.

Javed Jahangir and Sajid Mahmood were both caged for 20 weeks at Reading Magistrates' Court for offences the RSPCA described as "one of the most premeditated and barbaric forms of deliberate animal cruelty".

A raid on 28-year-old Jahangir's home in Milton Road led to officers finding a pit bull terrier type dog - a breed banned by the Dangerous Dogs Act - and a computer containing footage showing the two men fighting dogs in fields thought to be close to their homes.

Mahmood, 29, of Batchelors Way, was identified from the footage and this led to the RSPCA searching further properties in Chesham that he had links to.

There, officers found another pit bull terrier type dog, muzzles, leads, computers, phones, cameras and media storage devices - all of which were seized.

Jahangir admitted four offences linked to animal fighting and one of having an illegal dog at an earlier hearing, while Mahmood pleaded guilty to three fighting-related charges and to having an illegal dog.

As well as being jailed, both men were barred from keeping animals for life. Jahangir was ordered to pay £5,000 in prosecution costs and Mahmood £1,500.

The operation to bring the pair to justice was a joint one between the RSPCA and Thames Valley Police.

Chief inspector Mike Butcher, of the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: "Dog fighting is one of the most premeditated and barbaric forms of deliberate animal cruelty. We are delighted that all of those who have been brought to justice have so far been given bans on keeping animals.

"Hopefully the combination of the bans and the custodial sentences will send a clear message to anyone who is involved in dog fighting, or is thinking about taking part."

The Chiltern district's area commander Chief Inspector Ian Hunter said: "This case came about as a result of concerns raised to police by local residents. I hope that today’s result shows that not only have we taken those concerns seriously, but that we and the RSPCA have used all the powers at our disposal to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.

"This type of inhumane offence will not be tolerated by Thames Valley Police. I would urge anyone with information about this type of illegal activity to come forward and speak to police or the RSPCA immediately."