Two brothers jailed for dog fighting were snared by sickening videos they made for themselves.
Undercover investigators raided the homes of David and Colin Reid and found the footage on a laptop.
The brothers, from Aberdeenshire, are believed to have operated among a wider ring of dog fighters.
And it is believed they had been involved in the depraved activity for years.
The case marked the first conviction for animal fighting since new legislation allowed SSPCA inspectors to search and enter homes of suspected dog fight organisers.
David Reid, 22, of 22 Boyndie Street West, Banff, was jailed for six months and 24-year old Colin Reid, of 32 Moray Street, Macduff, was sentenced to four months at Banff Sheriff Court on Tuesday. They admitted the charges and were also banned from keeping dogs for five years.
The Record can reveal that the brothers were close associates of a man whose dog was found in a ditch by the SSPCA during the investigation.
The dog had been shot through the skull and investigators are convinced other dogs who had become too old to earn their keep through fighting would also have been killed.
Other fighting dogs were found dead within 20 miles of Banff, showing signs of appalling cruelty and suggesting the problem is widespread.
The dogs are believed to have been killed and dumped to avoid the SSPCA bringing charges against their owners.
In 2006, David Reid, from Banff, was convicted of cutting off part of both ears of two bull terriers. He pled guilty and was banned for two years from keeping animals and fined £300.
An undercover investigator said: “The implication of mutilating this animal was that it was a fighting dog.
“Owners do this to ready dogs for fights, to make them look fierce and to stop other dogs locking jaws on their ears while fighting.
“At the time, we couldn’t prove that he was involved in dog fighting but then the case was blown wide open when we saw the video.
“It shows both Reid brothers throwing their own dogs into a fight in the middle of the night at a secluded place not far from their home.”
Psycho David Reid was also sentenced to jail for going on the rampage after he was reported to the SSPCA.
He hunted down a man he suspected of “grassing” him and attacked him along with an accomplice, breaking his skull and pelvis.
The investigator added: “We also found videos of dog fights from eastern Europe.”
The probe uncovered evidence from farmers, who believed their cattle may have been attacked by dog fighters training their animals.
The crucial evidence was gathered when the SSPCA investigation team and police raided four homes, seizing six pit bulls.
Intelligence was received the following month that a dog had been shot and dumped on a farm.
Officers were shocked to see a clear bullet hole through the back of its skull.
The dog’s carcass still held an identifying microchip, which proved it belonged to an associate of the Reid brothers.
The SSPCA welcomed the first conviction for animal fighting under section 23 of the 2006 Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act and only the second ever in Scotland.
Mike Flynn, SSPCA chief superintendent, said: “Our investigation revealed both the Reids were heavily involved in dog fighting, a sickening crime which causes dogs horrendous injuries and can often be fatal. It is testament to our inspectors involved that these cruel and barbaric men are serving jail sentences.”
He also said the convictions served as a warning.
Flynn added: “We are gathering intelligence throughout the country. This case sends a message that we will pursue anyone taking part in this activity.”
Anyone with information on animal cruelty can call the SSPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.