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Masked gang stole American Bulldog worth £28k from Blairgowrie owner

Thomas Winning has admitted being part of the trio who forced their way into kennel club member Kenneth Day's home.

Thomas Winning.
Thomas Winning appeared at Perth Sheriff Court.

A masked gang forced their way into a Perthshire pet owner’s home and robbed him of two American Bulldogs, including one worth £28,000.

Kenneth Day came face-to-face with three menacing thugs wearing snoods, standing in his living room.

When he saw one was carrying a knife, he bolted out his back door and escaped into his neighbour’s garden.

A passing motorist later saw the raiders bundling two of Mr Day’s dogs into a white van.

Thomas Winning appeared at Perth Sheriff Court and admitted his role in the robbery on May 24 2021, at Mr Day’s home in Perth Street, Blairgowrie.

The 31-year-old railway worker was warned he could be locked up.

Snapchat warning

Prosecutor Emma Farmer told the court: “The victim is a member of the American Bulldog Kennel Club and owns five dogs, all of which were kept at his home.

“In May 2020 (while he was living in the central belt) he took ownership of one American Bulldog called El Diablo which he did not pay money for, due to prior arrangements with the then-owner.

Thomas Winning.
Thomas Winning leaving Perth Sheriff Court.

“Mr Day later bought another American Bulldog, Betty, for which he paid £28,000.

“He was given £2,000 towards the purchase from a friend.”

However, the friendship between the pair began to deteriorate, the court heard.

Ms Farmer said: “Due to Mr Day’s concerns as to what his friend might do, he moved to Blairgowrie in March 2021.”

The court heard that at around 9am on May 24 2021, the friend posted a new story on his Snapchat account.

Mr Day saw the photo that was shared and recognised the scenery as from the Blairgowrie area, near his home.

Blairgowrie home invasion and Bulldog theft

The fiscal depute said: “Later that afternoon, Mr Day was in his kitchen when he looked up and saw three people standing at the far end of his living room.

“They all had their faces covered with snood-type masks and their hoods up.

“When all three walked towards Mr Day, he saw one of them was holding a knife.”

One of the masked men said to Mr Day: “Hello mate.”

Ms Farmer said: “He immediately recognised the voice of his former friend.

Kenneth Day at Perth Sheriff Court.
Kenneth Day ran from his home when three masked men showed up.

“Mr Day ran out through the rear door of his home and climbed over his garden fence into a neighbouring property to contact police.”

Shortly afterwards, a witness drove along the street outside Mr Day’s home, Ms Farmer said.

“He had to brake harshly to avoid hitting an American Bulldog that was running on the road.

“He observed the men ushering two American Bulldogs into a van.”

CCTV and phone evidence

Police were called to the scene following reports of a robbery.

Ms Farmer said: “Officers saw three dogs at the garden of the locus but Betty and El Diablo were missing.

“They seized a white-handled knife from the garden.

“Following CCTV inquiries, they were able to identify Thomas Winning as one of the three males in the van.

“The owner of the van confirmed it had been loaned to Mr Winning that day and analysis of Mr Winning’s phone data confirmed that he was travelling from Glasgow to Blairgowrie at the time of the offence.”

The two dogs were never found.

‘Patsy’ facing jail time

Winning, of Glasgow Street, Ardrossan, admitted robbing Mr Day while acting with others on May 24 2021.

His solicitor said the task had been presented to his client as a “legitimate” dog recovery operation.

“He made no benefit from this.

“He has been something of a patsy in that he provided the vehicle.”

Perth Sheriff Court

Winning has previous convictions for violence, the court heard.

Sheriff Alison McKay deferred sentence and released him on bail.

“I have to say that I am not convinced that there is not an appropriate sentence, other than custody,” she told him.

“I am concerned for a number of reasons, including the substantial value of Betty.

“I am also concerned about your previous convictions but I can see you have not been in custody since 2013.”

Dogs’ owner arrested

The court previously heard Mr Day was later arrested when he tried to get back into his own home.

After being quizzed by CID officers, the 38-year-old was blocked by police guarding the property.

He was then spotted clambering into his own garden and flew into a rage when police continued to prevent him getting home, telling them: “Next time I see you, I’ll bash a rock off your head.”

Mr Day later appeared at Perth Sheriff Court and admitted behaving in an abusive or threatening manner.

“It was a long day,” he told the court, as he was admonished.

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