Day At The Track

Sentence reduced on appeal

09:05 PM 08 Sep 2015 NZST
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On 7 September 2015, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) heard the application for review of Mr Nathan Weightman in regard to the decision of the HRV Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 17 June 2015 to suspend Mr Weightman for a period of 4 months and impose fines totalling $2,000 (with $500 suspended) regarding 3 offences committed against Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 173(1) and 2 offences committed against AHRR 187(2).

 These rules read as follows:

173(1) A driver shall not bet in a race in which the driver participates.

187(2) A person shall not refuse to answer questions or to produce a horse, document, substance or piece of equipment, or give false or misleading evidence or information at an inquiry or investigation.

At the commencement of the hearing, the legal representative for Mr Weightman advised that the application for review would only be continued with respect to the penalty of a 4 month suspension imposed for a breach of AHRR 173(1).

 The review application was not continued with respect to the fines imposed for the other breaches.

 This specific rule breach and 4 month suspension related to Mr Weightman having been found to have placed, or been a party to, a $70 win bet on the 3rd placed horse Beachstar ($5.60) in Race 5 at the Charlton harness racing meeting  when Mr Weightman had driven the horse Itsmentamota which finished last.

This matter was detected by HRV Stewards as a result of routine checks conducted upon a number of harness racing participants.

After hearing submissions on behalf of Mr Weightman and the HRV Stewards, the presiding member, Senior Member Davis, varied the 4 month suspension penalty in the following manner.

In recognising that Mr Weightman had served 12 days of the initial suspension imposed, prior to receiving a stay of proceedings, Senior Member Davis ordered that a further 2 months suspension be served instead of the remaining 3 months and 18 days.

 The Tribunal ordered the 2 month suspension to be effective from midnight 9 September 2015 meaning Mr Weightman will be able to resume engaging in licensed activities as from 10 November 2015.  

In delivering this decision, the Tribunal noted the special circumstances present in the case including that; Mr Weightman was 18 years of age at the time of the offence, Mr Weightman had driven his own horse to the best of its ability during the race, Mr Weightman had admitted the offence at an early opportunity and Mr Weightman had been a great support to his family in difficult times.

 The Tribunal also noted the positive opportunities and future in front of Mr Weightman with respect to his involvement in the industry.

 It was also noted that the betting account on which the relevant wager had been placed had only been opened as a result of Mr Weightman taking advantage of an offer by a Wagering Service Provider (WSP) to match his initial $100 investment in opening the account and that the account had only been active for a total of 16 days and that otherwise Mr Weightman did not bet at all.

In rejecting the submission that a wholly suspended suspension or fine be imposed, the Tribunal noted that anything less than a suspension would not suitably protect the integrity of the industry and not be an appropriate deterrent.  

The Tribunal also noted that it was not unusual for jockeys or drivers who breached such rule to be disqualified though in the special circumstances of the current matter, particularly the age of Mr Weightman, a further two month suspension was an appropriate penalty in all the circumstances.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

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