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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v A Waretini - Reserved Decision dated 12 November 2018 - Chair, Mr T Utikere

Created on 15 November 2018

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE

JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY

UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003

IN THE MATTER of the Rules of Greyhound Racing

BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT

Informant

AND A WARETINI

Respondent

Judicial Committee: Mr T Utikere (Chairman)

Mr D Anderson (Member)

Parties: Mrs K Williams (for the RIU)

Ms A Waretini (as the Respondent)

Date of Hearing: 27 October 2018

Venue: Riccarton Racecourse, Christchurch

RESERVED DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DATED 12 NOVEMBER 2018

FACTS

[1] The Respondent is a Licensed Trainer/Handler who has been charged with a breach of Rule 62.1(f)(i) of the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing.

[2] The relevant Rule is as follows:

Rule 62.1: “Any person (including an Official) commits an offence if he/she:

(f) uses improper, insulting or offensive language in either written or spoken form towards, or in relation to:

(i) a Steward;

[3] The specific Information alleged:

Information No A4246

THAT, on the 16th October 2018, Alysha WARETINI, being a licensed owner/trainer under the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing used improper, offensive or insulting language towards, or in relation to; (i) a steward at the Christchurch GRC meeting. This is in breach of Rule 62.1 (f)(i).

[4] The relevant Penalty provisions are contained in Rule 63.1 which states:

“Any Person found guilty of an Offence under these Rules shall be liable to:

a. a fine not exceeding $10,000 for any one (1) Offence; and/or

b. Suspension; and/or

c. Disqualification; and/or

d. Warning Off.”

PRELIMINARY MATTERS

[5] The RIU was represented by Mrs Kylie Williams, and Ms Waretini was supported by Ms Angie Wilson. At the commencement of the hearing, all parties were advised that the Committee was in receipt of the Notice of Appointment, the Charge Rule and Penalty Provisions and an Authority to Charge Letter from the General Manager of the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU), Mr M Godber.

[6] The Respondent confirmed to the Committee that she was in receipt of all the necessary documentation and that she wished to enter a plea of Guilty to the charge. At the conclusion of the hearing, due to the conflicting submissions expressed by both parties surrounding the context to the charge, the Committee indicated it would issue a Reserved Decision, which it is now in a position to do.

INFORMANT’S SUBMISSIONS

[7] The RIU submitted the following Summary of Facts in full to the hearing:

1. The Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club held a race meeting at Addington Raceway on the 16th October 2018.

2. Chairman of Stewards for the day was Stipendiary Steward Scott Wallis. Assisting him on the day was Trainee Stipendiary Steward Mrs Clare Tibbs.

3. As part of the day Mr Wallis selected several Greyhounds which were to be subjected to a Pre-race swab.

4. One of the Greyhounds selected was LITTLE SECRET which was engaged in Race 5. This Greyhound is trained by Lisa Waretini and co-owned by the respondent Ms Alysha Waretini.

5. The Swabbing Steward on the day was Mr Blair O’Connell. During the process of taking the pre-race sample Ms Waretini became very upset telling Mr O’Connell that it should not be getting swabbed as Scott (Mr Wallis) doesn’t know shit. She also said to Mr O’Connell that Mr Wallis “shouldn’t be a Stipe and is a F**king Wa*ker” and also a “C**t”. A statement taken from Mr O’Connell confirms she repeated this on at least 3 occasions.

6. After the running of Race 12 Mr Wallis ordered the Post-race swab of another of Ms Lisa Waretini’s Greyhounds. This greyhound was the winner PLATONIC AFFAIR. This Greyhound is also co-owned by the respondent Ms Alysha Waretini.

7. Mrs Tibbs relayed to Ms Waretini that PLATONIC AFFAIR was to be post-raced swabbed to which Ms Waretini replied back to Mrs Tibbs; “What the F**k”, “ Why is Scotty being a F**ken C**t about this”, “ I will go tell the F**cker to his face too”. This is confirmed in a statement tendered by Mrs Tibbs.

8. Mrs Tibbs then informed Mr Wallis that Ms Waretini may approach him regarding her greyhound being swabbed.

9. A short time after placing PLATONIC AFFAIR in the Swab kennels Ms Waretini made her way to the Stewards room. She knocked on the door and entered demanding an explanation for her greyhound being swabbed in the last race. She was angry and very wound up. Mr Wallis told her not to come in and address him in that manner.

10. Ms Waretini replied that she would be getting her dog out and having F**ken bloods taken because she was going home due to not feeling well. Mr Wallis informed her that PLATONIC AFFAIR would not be having bloods taken and would be staying put for a urine sample to be collected. Ms Waretini then said that she would be having bloods done and F**king off home as she stormed out of the Stewards room.

11. Mr Wallis then rung Mr O’Connell to inform him of Ms Waretini’s demand and to ensure that PLATONIC AFFAIR was not to be taken out of the swab kennel until the normal time had lapsed for a urine sample to be taken.

12. Ms Waretini walked past Mr O’Connell who was waiting upstairs in the CHCH GRC offices once again going off in a rant, becoming abusive telling Mr O’Connell that she wanted her dog swabbed immediately and that if she crashes going home it was Mr Wallis’ fault.

13. She walked down the stairs banging on the locked swab kennel door wanting to take her dog home all the while swearing.

14. Ms Waretini then left the kennelling area and returned to perform the post-race swab on PLATONIC AFFAIR at the correct time. Mr Wallis was present during this time and could clearly see Ms Waretini was still wound up. Mr Wallis asked Ms Waretini if she was OK to drive home to which Ms Waretini stated she would be fine.

15. Ms Waretini then left the racecourse.

[8] Mrs Williams advised that she had recently become aware that Ms Waretini was disputing some aspects of the Summary, and that if that was the case, she had signed Statements available to support the RIU’s position, if the Committee considered it appropriate to have them tabled at the hearing.

RESPONDENT’S SUBMISSIONS

[9] In response to the alleged Summary of Facts, Ms Waretini disputed some aspects. She submitted that she did say “what the f**k?” to Mrs Tibbs as identified at para 7 of the RIU’s Summary. She also confirmed that when she was speaking to Mrs Tibbs, that she had referred to Mr Wallis as a “c**t”, but not as a “f**ken c**t”, and that she “would tell him to his face”.

[10] Ms Waretini confirmed that when she saw Mr Wallis, she was “wound up”, and that she did not reply initially to him, but simply asked him the grounds for swabbing her dog. She confirmed that she had sworn a couple of times, but that she did not use the word “f**ker”, as that along with the word “f**k” were not words that she used often.

[11] She disputed the description that during the swab, she was “wound up”, but rather that she was feeling ill at the time. She did not believe she banged on the door and was simply trying to open the door by the handle.

[12] To elaborate on her suggestion that she was feeling unwell, she said that she received a head injury the day prior to the race meeting after one of her dogs had “smacked” into her nose. She had blacked out as a result and had felt dizzy thereafter. In response to a question from the Committee, she identified that she did not seek any medical assistance as she was too busy and that the care of her dogs was her number one priority. Ms Waretini also believed that she could recall approximately 95 percent of what had occurred on the day in question.

ASSESSMENT OF THE RIU’S SUMMARY OF FACTS

[13] Mrs Williams was asked whether the issues that Ms Waretini had identified in relation to the RIU’s Summary meant that the Summary could be amended to reflect the Respondent’s submissions, or whether the RIU wished the Committee to reach some findings of fact. She confirmed the latter and was directed to present the signed Statements she had indicated she had to support the RIU’s version of events. Ms Waretini was provided with copies and given the opportunity to review them and provide any comments on each.

Statement from Mr S Wallis - Stipendiary Steward

[14] Mr Wallis’ statement confirmed the sequence of events that were outlined in the RIU’s Summary. He specifically recalled that Ms Waretini had used the word “f**ken” on two occasions when she entered the Stewards Room, whilst he was completing the day’s reports. (At para 7 of the Statement from Scott Wallis, dated 17 October 2018). He also described Ms Waretini as being in an “agitated” state whilst he was present when the swab was being taken by Mr O’Connell. (lbid., at para 8).

Statement from Mrs C Tibbs - Trainee Stipendiary Steward

[15] Mrs Tibbs’ statement also confirmed the sequence of events as outlined in the RIU’s Summary. It confirmed that Ms Waretini referred to Mr Wallis as a “F**ken C**t” and that she would go and “...tell the f**ker to his face too”. Mrs Tibbs also identified in her Statement that while she was heading to the Stewards Room, she was warned by “multiple staff in the kennelling area to take my time as she would be up there talking to Scotty and it won’t be nice”. (At para 7 of the Statement from Clare Tibbs, dated 19 October 2018).

Statement from Mr B O’Connell - Swabbing Steward

[16] Mr O’Connell’s statement identified the following:

“...As I was pre-race swabbing her dog, Ms Waretini became very upset, saying that it shouldn’t be swabbed, as Scott doesn’t know shit. She continued by saying that he shouldn’t be a stipe and is a f**king W**ker and also a C**t. Ms Waretini would have said this on no less than 3 occasions.

After the running of Race 12 I walked out of the kennel block and had heard over the radio that the winner, which was a greyhound handled by Ms Waretini, was to be swabbed. As I was not present to inform the winner that they were to be swabbed Mrs Clare Tibbs pasted (sic) that information on. I then heard Ms Waretini yell and scream that Scott was a F**ken C**t again. (At paras 6-7 of the Statement from Blair O'Connell, dated 19 October 2018).

When Ms Waretini came to office after seeing Scott she once again became abusive, going off in a rant - saying if I don’t swab her dog now - that if she faints or crashes her car that it’s my fault. She proceeded to yell, going down stairs banging on swab door - wanting to take her dog home. Once again swearing.” (lbid., at para 10).

Statement from Ms Wigley - Christchurch GRC Office Manager

[17] Ms Wigley’s Statement confirmed that she had found Ms Waretini to be “quite agitated”  (Statement from Stephanie Wigley, dated 26 October 2018) whilst she was returning to the Kennel Block area from the Club’s Office, so had followed her. When following her she had engaged in conversation with the Respondent in an attempt to calm her down. Her Statement also identified that Ms Waretini had told her that she had been having panic attacks in the week prior and was unhappy that she had been swabbed in the last race.

[18] When invited to make submissions on the tabled documents, which she had reviewed, Ms Waretini disputed that she went into the office area to have a ‘rant’ at Mr O’Connell. She did, however, confirm that she did mention to Ms Wigley that she had been having panic attacks leading up to the race meeting. In relation to the allegations contained in the other Statements, Ms Waretini said that she was not her normal self that day, and that those around her would have noticed that. She had no other comments to make.

DECISION

[19] As the charge was admitted, the Committee deem the charge proved.

INFORMANT’S PENALTY SUBMISSIONS

[20] The RIU submitted the following written submissions on Penalty:

1. Ms A Waretini has pleaded guilty to a breach of Rule 62.1 (f) (i) after using improper, insulting and offensive language towards or in relation to Stipendiary Steward, Scott Wallis, during the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club meeting on 16 October 2018.

2. The penalty provisions that apply in this case are outlined in Rule 63.1:

63.1 Any Person found guilty of an Offence under these Rules shall be liable to:

(a) a fine not exceeding $10,000.00 for any one (1) Offence except a luring/baiting Offence under Rule 86; and/or

(b) Suspension; and/or

(c) Disqualification; and/or

(d) Warning Off.

3. Sentencing Principles -

The four principles of sentencing can be summarised briefly

● Penalties are designed to punish the offender for his / her wrongdoing. They are not retributive in the sense that the punishment is disproportionate to the offence but the offender must be met with a punishment.

● In a racing context it is extremely important that a penalty has the effect of deterring others from committing like offences.

● A penalty should also reflect the disapproval of the J.C.A for the type of behaviour in question.

● The need to rehabilitate the offender should be taken into account.

● All principles are particularly relevant here.

4. Relevant Precedents

The JCA guidelines on penalty (2015) for Greyhound Racing do not list a starting point for this offence. It can therefore be inferred that the starting point for “using improper and offensive language to a Steward” is “fact dependent”.

The following Non-Race Day Inquiry charges of “using improper and offensive language to a Steward” under NZGR Rules have resulted in fines ranging from $200 - $400:

RIU v L Phillips (16.08.2013) – GRNZ Licenced Trainer insulting language to a Club official. $350 fine

RIU v W Hodgson (4.03.2015) – GRNZ Licenced Trainer offensive language to a Steward. $400 fine

RIU v J Lane (27.03.2015) – GRNZ Licenced Trainer offensive language towards Stewards. Fine $300

RIU v S Dickson (11.02.2017) – HRNZ Trainer/Driver charged with misconduct (offensive language towards a Steward). Fine $850

5. Aggravating Features –

Ms Waretini has been involved in the Greyhound racing industry for a number of years and knows the importance of conducting herself in a professional manner and maintaining integrity in racing.

The fact that the use of the loud, highly offensive language by Ms Waretini was not just a one off outburst. It was in fact a conscious decision to have her thoughts of Mr Wallis known on several occasions.

Ms Waretini used the language in front of several licence holders and officials on the two occasions.

Ms Waretini directed the offensive language in relation to Mr Wallis who was only fulfilling his raceday duties. Mrs Tibbs and Mr O’Connell were subjected to Ms Waretini’s outburst whilst going about their own duties on Raceday.

6. Mitigating Factors –

Ms Waretini admitted the breach at the first opportunity and has cooperated fully throughout the investigation.

Ms Waretini has accepted responsibility for her actions and language and has since made an apology to Mr Wallis.

Ms Waretini has a clear record in regards to any breaches of the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing.

7. CONCLUSION

The Racing Integrity Unit believes that this is in the high-range of offending in respect of a breach of Rule 62.1(f)(i) of New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing. Ms Waretini has had two outbursts directing what can only be described as highly insulting language in relation to Mr Wallis to another Steward and Swabbing Official.

When viewed in comparison to the relevant precedents mentioned earlier this clearly is at a much higher level of offending.

The penalty given must act as a deterrent to anyone who may think this type of behavior is acceptable.

Based on the overall circumstances considered in this case, the RIU would suggest the Committee consider a starting point of a fine in the vicinity of $1,000.

[21] The RIU also explained that while the offence had occurred in front of a lot of people, it was still unclear as to whether there was any particular reason behind the Respondent’s behaviour; or whether she was simply seeking attention. If she had been unwell, then the RIU believed that she should have sought medical attention.

[22] Ms Waretini had confirmed that she had been at the races for approximately four hours that day, and Mrs Williams submitted that if she had been unwell to the extent she had portrayed, she should have communicated that to someone so that she could have been collected from the course. She had also been told by Mr Wallis that when Ms Waretini did leave the course, it was noticeable that the music being played in her van was quite loud, which was inconsistent with someone who would be feeling unwell.

[23] The position of the Informant was that it was also inappropriate for any licence holder to question the decision of authorities to swab a particular dog. Further, that the behaviour that Ms Waretini had displayed, meant that other dogs in the area became unsettled and she had disrupted the subsequent raceday processes that were required to be undertaken.

[24] Ms Williams also identified that Ms Waretini had only offered an apology to Mr Wallis after she had been questioned by the RIU on 19 October.

[25] With reference to RIU v Hodgson (RIU v Hodgson, Decision of Judicial Committee dated 4 March 2015)  and RIU v Lane (RIU v Lane, Decision of Judicial Committee dated 27 March 2015), Mrs Williams identified that those decisions were similar in that the behaviour was directed towards a stipendiary steward, but that the current offence also included concerns relating to the inappropriateness of a licence holder to question the reasons to swab a greyhound.

[26] Mrs Williams also confirmed that the RIU were not seeking any costs.

RESPONDENT’S PENALTY SUBMISSIONS

[27] Ms Waretini reiterated her belief that she was clearly not well on the day in question, citing medical concerns as the prime driver behind her behaviour towards Mr Wallis.

[28] With reference to the Lane decision, she identified that a point of difference was that Mr Lane did not have the medical issues that she had alluded to, meaning that some mitigation should be applied if that decision was to be used as a comparative.

[29] She had accepted that what she had said to, and about, Mr Wallis was way out of line, but that as she had two black eyes, those around her would have noticed that she was very unwell. She stated that as she was already at the races, it would have been too late to call her mother to ask her to come and collect her and that there were logistical issues that she had responsibility for, whilst she was on the course.

[30] Ms Waretini advised the Committee that she had been a licensed handler for eight years, and that her sole income was derived from her greyhound activities. This was the first time that she had been on a charge before the JCA and she confirmed that she had said sorry to Mr Wallis when she was feeling better.

[31] She believed that in the circumstances she had outlined, a fine of no more than $300 to $400 was appropriate.

REASONS FOR PENALTY

[32] The Committee considered all of the evidence placed before it. It is abundantly clear that Ms Waretini’s behaviour fell well short of what is expected of a licence holder. The Statements that have been tabled, are all very consistent in supporting what has been alleged by the RIU which is slightly at odds with Ms Waretini’s recollection of events. Ms Waretini, when given the opportunity, did not specifically raise a huge amount of doubt in our mind as to the veracity of their contents.

[33] While the issue of contention seems to be around whether particular words were used or not used, in any event, when words such as “f**k” and “c**t” are used, and Ms Waretini accepts that she did use them, towards a stipendiary steward in any form of sentence structure, the Committee considers that to be completely unacceptable. When such language is conveyed in a sustained manner, both directly to, and indirectly about, a stipendiary steward, then that must also be viewed repugnantly by those inside and outside of the racing industry.

[34] The recent decision of Kettlewell (RIU v D Kettlewell, Decision of Judicial Committee dated 29 October 2018) transversed the specifics of Lane and Hodgson, and we accept that both of those cases are of relevance, as they involve a stipendiary steward as the recipient of the poor language. When determining penalty, Ms Waretini suggests Lane is of most relevance, with the proviso that it lacks the medical context she had provided. We disagree. While Ms Waretini’s offending has been sustained in nature; it has also involved language that could be described as vulgar and extremely offensive. While it was directed at Mr Wallis, it was also transmitted to others who were on course going about their duties. The subsequent disruption to the kennelling area as a result of Ms Waretini’s physical behaviour also leads us to assess this level of offending at a level that is worse than that of Lane.

[35] The Committee has reviewed the previous decisions referred to by the RIU in their Penalty Submissions. The RIU have invited us to adopt a $1,000 fine as the starting point. The JCA Penalty Guidelines do not identify a specific starting point, so each breach is ‘fact dependent’.

[36] When considering the current breach, a significant point of difference is that there are three aggravating aspects to this breach. Firstly, the nature of the language that was used was vulgar, offensive and not part of common parlance. While there is no formal hierarchy of inappropriate language, it is clear to us that the nature of the language used is an aggravating factor.

[37] Secondly, the fact that the comments about Mr Wallis were directed at him in his capacity as a stipendiary steward; but also, that others had heard the Respondent make those comments at different times during the race meeting. In doing so, Ms Waretini was seeking to call into question the integrity and ability of a stipendiary steward simply going about his raceday duties.

[38] Finally, the behaviour that was displayed by Ms Waretini in association with the comments that were made. While the behaviour could be classified as erratic and inappropriate, licence holders cannot behave in such a manner when it concerns the swabbing of a dog. On this occasion, Ms Waretini was not contesting the result of a swab, but rather the reasons as to why her dog was being swabbed. Stipendiary stewards maintain a discretion to exercise in the swabbing process which is fundamental to the integrity of racing and her subsequent disruption to other dogs being subject to the swabbing process was undermining and out of order.

[39] As such, when we consider the three specified aggravating features outlined above, and with reference to Lane and Hodgson, we consider that a $1,000 fine starting point is appropriate, which we accordingly adopt.

[40] In mitigation we apply Ms Waretini’s good record over eight years and her admittance of the breach. While Ms Waretini apologised to Mr Wallis, we also note that it was given after she had been charged.

[41] With regard to suggestions that she was unwell at the time, we have also considered that there was no evidence from a medical specialist for the Committee to rely upon. In any event, that submission is also balanced by Ms Waretini’s decision to not seek any medical attention at the time, or in the days following. Even at the hearing, Ms Waretini remained firmly of the view that her primary responsibility was to put the care of her dogs ahead of her own welfare.

[42] It is disappointing that, even after the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, she appears unable to accept that there were other avenues to seek assistance if she felt that she was in such a state that it was having an impact on her ability to discharge her duties as a licence holder in an appropriate manner. As a result, she must bear the consequences for her actions. For these reasons, in mitigation we apply a slight reduction from our starting point.

PENALTY

[43] Ms Waretini is fined $750.

COSTS

[44] As this matter was heard on a raceday, there will be no order for costs.

Signed at Wellington this 12th day of November 2018.

Mr Tangi Utikere

Chairman

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