A Sydney underworld figure with strong Mafia ties has been shot dead hours before phone intercepts in which he featured were about to be played at a trial for the murder of a rival.
Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was shot dead on Monday night as he left the Earlwood home of an associate, construction industry figure George Alex.
As the 35-year-old was leaving the Larkhall Avenue house at 9:45pm at least one gunman jumped out of an Audi 4WD and opened fire.
Witnesses heard up to seven shots before finding the tattooed, heavyset father-of-two sprawled on the footpath.
Barbaro, who was on $350,000 bail for drug charges, was a regular at the home Mr Alex shared with his elderly mother.
The execution-style hit transpired the night before a Sydney court was to be played phone intercepts of Barbaro speaking to the boss of street gang Brothers For Life, Farhad Qaumi.
The intercepts are part of evidence against Qaumi, who is accused of organising the shooting death of construction industry figure and standover man Joe Antoun at Strathfield in 2013.
Mr Antoun was shot dead as he answered the door at his Strathfield home.
At the time Barbaro was pursuing Mr Antoun over an alleged $750,000 debt Mr Antoun owed to Griffith wine merchants.
Mr Antoun was in business with Mr Alex at the time he was killed.
Barbaro had told associates he had twice tried to kill Mr Antoun but had not gone through with it because both times Mr Antoun had been carrying a child.
Barbaro had been living with his girlfriend in Harrington Park, in Sydney’s south-west, after moving from Elizabeth Bay earlier this year.
His girlfriend was “saddened and shocked” by his death.
“He was on his way to see me last night but never made it,” she said on Tuesday.
Police have previously told a Sydney court that Barbaro was “known to be part of the Italian mafia in Griffith, NSW. He is known by police to be heavily involved in organised crime including major drug supply and firearm offences”.
As well as Mafia connections, Barbaro also counted Afghan gangsters like Qaumi and Kings Cross identities including Michael Ibrahim among his closest associates. But he was also not short on enemies and in the last three weeks a well-known crime figure said everyone seemed to desert Barbaro, even his bodyguards.
“He’s got a hundred people that want to knock him,” the crime figure said.
Another described him as a bully and a thug. “He was a very dangerous man”.
He was also suspected of being a police informant.
Barbaro liked the trappings that crime brought.
A fortnight before his June 2012 arrest for the manufacture of the drug ice, Barbaro was spoken to by police for parking his black Lamborghini in a ‘No Stopping’ zone in St Marys. He boasted to police it was the only such car in Australia and was worth $2 million.
He also told the police he had plenty of money because his family owned mines in the Philippines and he had a company in the city that hired out cranes.
His arrogance rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. Barbaro had fallen out with Melbourne underworld figure Mick Gatto who, Barbaro claimed, had not shown him enough “respect”.
When a major Sydney crime figure organised a meeting between the pair 18 months ago, Barbaro, who was wearing a suit, was sweating profusely. It turned out he was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Barbaro kept bad company. According to company records, his business partners, without exception, were also convicted criminals.
Back in 2010 he and his mate Aaron Sabbah established Illuminati, a restaurant and bar in Glebe. The venture failed with the pair dodging the $300,000 they owed in rent. In June this year Sabbah was jailed for wielding a large black dildo to demand money from a mechanic.
A recent friendship of Barbaro’s was with organised crime figure Dallas Fitzgerald, the son of jailed bikie boss Felix Lyle. The pair are alleged to have been involved in stealing 50 kilograms of drugs from a rival dealer.
At the time of his murder, Barbaro was facing the possibility of 20 years in jail over the manufacture of ice.
He was initially refused bail and while in jail his then-wife Melinda Grasso was told by alleged fraudster Ian Lazar that there was a “hit” out on her husband. Lazar convinced her to hock her Mercedes for $35,000.
Mr Lazar, who pocketed the “protection” money, has been charged with fraud.
Barbaro was understood to be required to give evidence at Mr Lazar’s trial.
Police were angry when Barbaro was eventually granted bail as he was still on parole for a previous drug conviction having been released from jail in 2008 after serving three years of a six-year sentence.
He was also on a good behaviour bond at the time he was allegedly involved in the ice deal having been convicted of fraud offences in May 2010.
In July 2002 he was sentenced to five years jail in the ACT for possessing a prohibited weapon, armed robbery, theft and burglary.
In November 2015, Barbaro survived an attempt on his life at Leichhardt, in Sydney’s inner-west, believed to have been carried out by another underworld figure Hamad Assaad.
Assaad was murdered three weeks ago outside his Georges Hall home. Detectives do not believe Barbaro’s murder is linked to that of Assaad.