Glasgow & West Scotland

Dog-fighting trainer Tony Barbara jailed for eight months

Tony Barbara Image copyright James Williamson

A man convicted of training pit bull terriers for illegal fights has been jailed after defying a ban on keeping dogs and other cruelty offences.

Tony Barbara, 51, subjected two of the animals to a catalogue of suffering, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard.

He also attempted to carry out DIY treatment on their injuries in case his actions were discovered by the authorities.

Barbara, from Newmilns, East Ayrshire, was jailed for eight months.

The court heard Barbara, who was linked to the Essex underworld, moved to Scotland after receiving a suspended jail sentence and 10-year dog ban at Snaresbrook Crown Court in July 2013.

He resumed his activities within months but was arrested after the Scottish SPCA raided his home in November 2014 and found two injured pit bulls and equipment linked to the illegal activity.

Barbara was found guilty of six charges including breaching the Dangerous Dogs Act by keeping two female pit bull terriers for fighting, having syringes and medications, possessing "breaking sticks" for fights and causing the animals unnecessary suffering by failing to provide adequate care and treatment.

His solicitor, James Arrol, said heavily-tattooed Barbara was "a man who has a number of psychiatric and health difficulties".

Scottish SPCA inspector Hannah Medley said Barbara spoke "freely and openly", using dog-fighting terminology and explaining the terms and rules.

'Etiquette of dog fighting'

Ms Medley added: "He told us he had been dog-fighting for the last 20 to 30 years and had only seen one dog die, and that when a dog was dying it was still wagging its tail when it died."

Ms Medley said Barbara described the "etiquette of dog fighting" and used its terminology, such as scratch lines, pits and coming up to scratch.

"He was talking about dog breeds and his fascination with bull breeds", she said, adding Barbara described knowing vets who would teach how to treat injuries and self-medicate dogs.

After his arrest, Barbara gave "no comment" responses when asked why he had veterinary medication used specifically to treat dog injuries and syringes containing milky liquid.

He also refused to comment on whether the dogs had been identified as American Pit Bull terriers, which are strictly regulated, and attributed scars and injuries to "dives into bushes after rabbits".

Police and animal welfare inspectors found a "flesh stapler", a training "flirt pole" and notebooks with accounts of the fights at his previous home in Dagenham, Essex, in 2011, his earlier trial heard.

Sheriff Shirley Foran jailed Barbara for eight months and banned him from keeping dogs for life.

A Scottish SPCA spokesman said: "We welcome this result as investigations of this nature are extremely difficult to detect.

"We hope this result will send out a message that the barbaric and criminal activity of dog fighting is a priority of the Scottish SPCA and will not be tolerated."

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