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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v CJ Weir - Reserved Reasons for Decision dated 19 June 2018 - Chair, Mr RG McKenzie

Created on 21 June 2018

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

HELD AT CHRISTCHURCH

IN THE MATTER of the Greyhound

Racing New Zealand

Rules of Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information No. A6655

BETWEEN PETER ROSS LAMB, Racing Investigator for the Racing Integrity Unit

Informant

AND CALUM JOHN WEIR of Rangiora, Licensed Trainer

Respondent

Judicial Committee: Mr R G McKenzie (Chair)

Mr D M Jackson (Member)

Venue: Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Date of Hearing: 13th June 2018

Present: Mr P R Lamb, the Informant

Mr S P Renault, Registrar

Date of Decision: 13th June 2018

Date of Written Decision: 19th June 2018

RESERVED REASONS FOR DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

The Charge

[1] Mr Weir has been charged with a breach of Rule 62.1 (o) of the Greyhound Racing New Zealand Rules of Racing in that “on the 30th day of April 2018, at Addington Raceway, he has in relation to Greyhound Racing done a thing, namely wilfully damaged a wall the property of Addington Raceway Limited, with that act in the circumstances constituting misconduct.”

[2] Mr Lamb produced a letter dated 8th May 2018 signed by Mr M R Godber, General Manager of the Racing Integrity Unit, authorising the filing of the Information pursuant to Rule 66.2 (a).

[3] Information No. A6655 was subsequently served on Mr Weir on 10th May 2018. Mr Weir signed the Statement by the Respondent on the information form indicating that he did not admit the breach.

Preliminary

[4] Mr Weir was not present at the hearing. He had notified the Executive Officer of the Judicial Control Authority by an email on 12 June that he would not be attending the hearing but was maintaining his denial of the charge and would deliver a written submission on the morning of the hearing.

[5] Mr Lamb handed to the Committee a sealed envelope which he told the Committee had been given to him by Mr Weir just minutes prior to the commencement of the hearing.

[6] Mr Lamb then told the Committee of a series of text messages that he and Mr Weir had exchanged on the morning of the hearing. These are relevant in that they confirm what Mr Weir said in his email referred to in paragraph [4]:

Weir 11.50am: Hi Peter. I have a written submission to drop off today for the hearing. Could I please hand it to you to give to the JCA?

Lamb 11.51am: I am in the Stewards’ Room now. Are you not going to be here?

Weir 11.53am: I advised them yesterday I wouldn’t be attending but have the written submission for myself.

Lamb 11.54am: Yep, drop it in to me Stewards’ Room.

Lamb 11.55am: How far away are you?

Weir 11.56am: I will be there in around 25 minutes.

Lamb 11.57am: OK.

[7] Mr Lamb confirmed that Mr Weir subsequently arrived at the hearing venue approximately 5 minutes before the hearing was to commence at 12.30pm, at which time he confirmed again that he did not intend to attend the hearing and, further, that he was continuing to deny the charge.

[8] Rule 24.1 of the Seventh Schedule to the Greyhound Racing New Zealand Rules of Racing provides:

If, at the hearing of an information, the defendant does not appear and the Judicial Committee is satisfied that the Information has been served and the defendant is aware of the date of hearing, the hearing may proceed in the absence of the defendant.

[9] The hearing proceeded as a defended hearing in the absence of Mr Weir.

Informant’s Opening Statement

[10] Mr Lamb explained that the alleged offending had taken place on a racecourse during the course of a race meeting by a licensed person under the Rules of NZ Greyhound Racing Association. An incident had taken place on 30th April this year at Addington Raceway in which it is alleged that Mr Weir has intentionally damaged a wall panel upon leaving the Stewards’ Room following a discussion with Stewards.

[11] Mr Lamb said that the Committee would hear from five RIU witnesses in support of the charge as to the circumstances leading up to the alleged offending and the demeanour of Mr Weir, both pre and post-incident, including evidence from an independent witness as to the details of a conversation just minutes after the incident and admissions made by Mr Weir at that time.

[12] Mr Lamb said that “misconduct” is considered to be “wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct”. The Oxford Dictionary definition is “unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour”. However, “misconduct” is not defined in the Rules and is, therefore, open to the interpretation of the Committee.

[13] Mr Lamb referred to a 2011 Greyhound Racing decision in the case of Mann in which the Judicial Committee adopted the following definition of “misconduct”:

Conduct which is either (a) improper - not in accordance with accepted rules/ standards of behaviour; or (b) unprofessional - contrary to professional standards of behaviour”.

He invited the Committee to adopt a similar interpretation.

Evidence of John Denton

[14] Mr Denton is the Racecourse Manager at Addington Raceway.

[15] On Monday, 30th April 2018, he received a telephone call from Mr Tony Music, Manager of the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club, advising of damage to a wall in the corridor by the Stipendiary Stewards room in the Twiggers Stand, a building owned by Addington Raceway Limited.

[16] Following that discussion, Mr Denton went and viewed the damage, which was a single puncture hole in the gib wall panel. He referred to the photographs produced and confirmed that they were photographs of the damage that he had inspected.

[17] He subsequently had the damage repaired. The cost of the repairs was $460 and was invoiced to the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club (copy of invoice produced).

Evidence of Richard Allan Quirk

[18] Mr Quirk is a Stipendiary Steward attached to the Racing Integrity Unit.

[19] On Monday, 30th April 2018, he was the Chairman of Stewards at the race meeting conducted by Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club at Addington Raceway. Mr Scott Wallis was the other Steward working that day.

[20] At about 3.30pm, the Respondent, Mr Weir, came to the Stewards’ Room, having been requested by Mr Wallis on his instructions regarding the performance of Mr Weir’s greyhound SHADY BANJO in Race 3. When Mr Weir was informed that he was being spoken to regarding SHADY BANJO, his attitude became aggressive. He raised his voice and talked over Mr Quirk who was attempting to make normal enquiries and to show Mr Weir films of the incident. Mr Weir was informed that the greyhound was to be stood down.

[21] Mr Weir told Mr Quirk that he wished to seek a review of the decision and Mr Quirk informed him where he could obtain the appropriate form. Mr Weir then left the room in a “very agitated mood”.

[22] Mr Quirk said that, seconds later, he heard a loud bang come from the corridor outside the Stewards Room. He went and looked in the corridor, which was empty, and discovered a hole in the wall along from the Stewards’ Room. The wall had not been damaged when he had entered the building earlier.

Evidence of Scott William Wallis

[23] Mr Wallis is a Stipendiary Steward attached to the Racing Integrity Unit.

[24] On Monday, 30th April 2018, he was on duty at the race meeting conducted by Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club at Addington Raceway.

[25] He was present in the Stewards’ Room with Mr Quirk when Mr Weir arrived having been requested to attend. Mr Weir was informed by Mr Quirk that he was looking into the racing conduct of the greyhound SHADY BANJO which had raced in Race 5 that afternoon.

[26] During a brief discussion, Mr Weir became unreasonable to deal with, using a loud voice to speak over Stewards and not allowing a reasonable discussion to take place. After being told by Mr Quirk that the greyhound was being stood down due to its racing conduct, Mr Weir then sought documentation as he indicated that he was going to review the Stewards’ decision.

[27] Mr Weir’s demeanour throughout the discussion was aggressive and, when he abruptly left the room, he was in an angry and agitated state. Almost immediately, there was a loud single bang on the wall of the corridor outside the Stewards’ Room that Mr Weir had just left.

[28] Mr Wallis said that he went out to the corridor and discovered a hole, about fist-size and chest-level height, in the wall. That damage had not been there previously. There was nobody in the corridor at that time and he located Mr Weir outside the building, walking away towards the Greyhound office. There was no one else in the immediate area. He asked Mr Weir to return to the Stewards’ Room and explain his actions but Mr Weir told him he was “done” and the RIU could have his licence as he was finished.

[29] Mr Weir then returned to the corridor where the damage had occurred. When he questioned Mr Weir about the damaged wall, Mr Weir replied that he had “tripped and fell”. Mr Weir then indicated that he did not wish to hand in his trainer’s licence and left. Mr Weir’s demeanour when he returned to the corridor was the same as when he left – very agitated and angry – and not open to a reasonable discussion. At no stage, did Mr Weir say that he had caused the damage to the wall out of anger.

[30] Mr Wallis then phoned Racing Investigator, Mr Lamb, and took photographs of the damaged wall.

[31] The Committee then put to Mr Wallis that Mr Weir would produce a statement from a Mr P Seque. Mr Wallis explained that he had called to Mr Weir from the balcony outside the Stewards’ Room while Mr Weir was outside walking away. He called him on two occasions by his christian name and asked him to come back. Mr Weir ignored him and continued walking away. He called out to him again, of necessity in a louder voice, as Mr Weir would have been 70-80 metres away by this time. On this occasion, he had used Mr Weir’s surname. Mr Seque would have been an estimated 150 metres away and, quite possibly, may have heard him. Mr Weir returned to the corridor following the third call from Mr Wallis that he was directed to return.

[32] It was further put by the Committee to Mr Wallis that Mr Weir would say in his written statement that he had been subjected to bullying and harassment from Mr Wallis and that Mr Wallis had been screaming at him. Mr Wallis agreed that his voice had been raised, although not screaming, as this was necessary to attract Mr Weir’s attention but he denied that he had bullied and harassed Mr Weir.

Evidence of Tony Music

[33] Mr Music is the Racing Manager of the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club.

[34] On Monday, 30th April 2018, the Club conducted a race meeting at Addington Raceway.

[35] At 3.50pm that afternoon, Mr Music received a phone call from Mr Calum Weir, a person known to him as a greyhound trainer. Mr Weir told him that he was ringing me to tell him before anyone else did that he had been called into the Stewards’ Room and that they had charged his dog with failing to pursue and put the dog out. In his opinion, he said, the dog did not do anything.

[36] Mr Weir said that he was that brassed off that he punched a hole in the wall. He then said, “that’s why I’m ringing to say I apologise for doing that” and that he would pay for the repair of it. He said that both stipes had it in for him.

[37] The phone call lasted approximately 2 minutes 15 seconds. During the call, Mr Weir initially sounded agitated but then became apologetic. Mr Music recalls Mr Weir saying, “I actually should’ve punched the other side because that was concrete”.

[38] The invoice for the repairs was sent by Addington Raceway Limited to the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club and forwarded by the Club to Mr Weir, who has since paid it direct to Addington Raceway Limited.

Evidence of Peter Ross Lamb

]39] Mr Lamb is a Racing Investigator attached to the Racing Integrity Unit.

[40] On Monday, 30th April 2018, he received a telephone call from Mr Scott Wallis, Stipendiary Steward, advising him of an incident that had taken place at Addington Raceway during the course of the race meeting that afternoon. The alleged nature of the incident was that a wall in the corridor adjacent to the Stewards’ Room had been damaged. The damage had occurred after a Licensed Trainer, Mr Calum Weir, had left the Stewards’ Room following a discussion with Stewards in relation to a greyhound trained by Mr Weir. He requested Mr Wallis to take photographs of the damage.

[41] On 4th May 2018, Mr Lamb conducted an interview with Mr Weir. During that interview, Mr Weir acknowledged that he was present at the greyhound race meeting at Addington on 30th April 2018 and that he had attended the Stewards’ Room and had a discussion with two Stewards.

[42] Mr Weir had admitted that he had made a telephone call to Mr Tony Music that afternoon and told him that he had caused damage to a wall near the Stewards’ Room and that he would pay for the repairs. In response to questions about what had occurred in the hallway, Mr Weir offered no comment

[43] Mr Lamb then played the recorded interview to the hearing and produced a transcript of that interview.

Written Submissions of the Respondent

[44] Mr Weir had lodged a written submission which he asked the Committee to take into account in his absence. We set this out verbatim:

“I appreciate your consideration throughout the process and deny the charge laid by the RIU.

On the day in question the 30th April 2018 I left the Stewards Room disappointed in the result given by Stewards Mr R Quirk and Mr S Wallis concerning my greyhound Shady Banjo’s performance.

It was a very wet day. I left the room and shut the door. I continued down the right-hand wall of the corridor. In a rush to empty my waiting greyhound in my van, I slipped on the wet carpet and tripped over myself. I then raised my palm up to brace my fall, hitting the old and soft gib board making a hole in the wall. I continued on down the hallway and stairway towards the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club office to find someone to tell about the accident. I was close to the office door before Mr S Wallis came out of the RIU office screaming and yelling at me in a threatening and intimidating manner to return to the Stewards’ Room straight away or I would lose my licence.

Written evidence of Mr S Wallis’s actions has been given to me by licensed person, P. Seque, as to the manner and tone Mr Wallis was using. It is also to note that this was heard by multiple people, up to 12 in the stir up area and some substantial distance way.

I agreed to return my licence to Mr Wallis as I have felt harassed, bullied and intimidated by this particular stipe for the past few years and also let down by the RIU handling of previous incidents regarding myself and the stipes that were in charge that day.

I returned to the hallway where Mr Wallis met me and continued screaming towards me asking what had happened. I told Mr Wallis that I had tripped and fell. He continued to scream at me that no one would believe anything I said and I would be charged and lose my licence.

I then had refused to hand my licence to Mr Wallis. My anxiety was triggered from the bullying and harassment I had just received.

I left the building. I was severely overwhelmed and panicked, ringing Christchurch Greyhound Club Secretary, Mr T Music, to get the wall to be organised to be fixed. During my panic attack, I wrongfully told Mr Music that I punched the wall and wanted it to be fixed and I would pay for all costs (which I have done so to the sum of $460 to Addington Raceway).

I was scared that I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I had mentioned the truth and what had happened during the incident on the day in question.

Thank you once again for taking the time to review my written submission.”

[45] The document was signed by Mr Weir and dated Wednesday, 13th June 2018.

[46] The statement referred to by Mr Weir in his statement, the evidence of Mr P Seque, stated as follows:

“On the 30th April 2018 during Race 6 whilst out for stir ups, I heard Scott Wallis yelling at Calum Weir. I believe Scott was situated at the balcony of the stipes room and Calum was walking towards upstairs stable entrance. I estimate this to be 200 metres from where I was and although I could not make out exact words I could tell he was yelling in a forceful and threatening manner”.

[47] That statement was undated and unsigned.

Closing Submissions of the Informant

[48] The position of the RIU is quite clear. Mr Weir does not deny that he caused the damage to the wall but he claimed it to be unintentional. The RIU believes that it was intentional.

[49] Witnesses have given reliable and sound evidence as to the circumstances surrounding the incident. The evidence is clear and it is strong. Mr Weir, at the time of the incident, was described as being “angry”, “aggressive” and “agitated” both during the discussion with the Stewards and as he left the Stewards’ Room immediately before this incident.

[50] Evidence has also been given as to an admission made by Mr Weir to a credible, independent witness. The damage to the wall was intentional, caused by a punch and Mr Weir admitted to a witness that he had been “brassed off” at the Stewards for putting his greyhound out.

[51] The RIU contends that the act of damaging the wall, in the circumstances described by the witnesses, is improper conduct and, therefore, completes the offence of misconduct.

[52] The standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities. The RIU contends that that threshold has been met.

Decision:

[53] After the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee deliberated before announcing its decision that it found the charge to be proved. The reasons for that finding were reserved and are now set out hereunder.

Reasons for Decision

[54] The Informant is required, firstly, to prove his allegation that the Respondent, Mr Weir, did on the 30th day of April 2018 wilfully damage a wall at Addington Raceway and, having proved that, secondly, to satisfy the Committee that Mr Weir’s actions in damaging the wall amounted to misconduct and, therefore, a breach of Rule 62.1(o) New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association Rules of Racing.

[55] The standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities. This test requires the Committee to weigh up and compare the likelihood of the existence of competing facts. The charge is proved on the balance of probabilities if it is more probable than not or if it is established by a preponderance of probability.

[56] The witnesses for the Informant all gave compelling evidence to the hearing. Mr Weir had chosen not to appear at the hearing and, therefore, the evidence of those witnesses went uncontested. Mr Weir maintained his defence, by way of a written submission, that the damage was caused by accident, and not deliberately, when he slipped on wet carpet and put his hand out to brace himself, his hand striking and making a hole in the wall.

[57] The Informant’s witnesses all gave evidence that contradicted Mr Weir’s version of events. Having heard those witnesses and having given consideration to Mr Weir’s explanation, we clearly prefer the evidence of the RIU’s witnesses.

[58] The briefs of evidence of the RIU’s witnesses had been disclosed to Mr Weir prior to the hearing. Significantly, Mr Weir did not dispute, in his written statement, the evidence given by Messrs Quirk and Wallis that he was aggressive, angry and agitated when he left the Stewards’ Room. His frame of mind at that time puts his conduct in context and he did not dispute their evidence.

[59] The Committee finds as a fact that Mr Weir was upset by the decision of the Stipendiary Stewards to stand down his greyhound, SHADY BANJO, for failing to pursue the lure in Race 3. He did not agree with that decision and, we were told, he became aggressive, agitated and angry and left the Stewards’ Room in that state. Upon leaving the room, we are satisfied that he vented those emotions by deliberately punching a hole in the wall outside the room.

[60] Mr Weir’s explanation that he had slipped and fell is, quite simply, not credible. Furthermore, within a very short space of time, he had admitted to Mr Music in a telephone conversation that he had punched a hole in the wall and that he was willing to meet the cost of repairs. Mr Music was a convincing witness. The evidence of Messrs Quirk and Wallis is consistent with the act having been a deliberate one.

[61] Butterworths New Zealand Law Dictionary, 5th edition, defines “misconduct” as “wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by premeditated or intentional purpose or by obstinate indifference to the consequences of one’s acts”. Mr Weir’s actions in deliberately damaging the wall would probably also constitute wilful damage under the Summary Offences Act 1981.

[62] The Committee is comfortably satisfied that, firstly, Mr Weir deliberately damaged the wall by punching a hole in it and that, secondly, in doing so his actions amounted to misconduct under the Rule.

[63] Mr Weir produced an unsigned statement from a Mr P Seque (para [43] above). The Committee records that it has attached no weight to this statement for two reasons – it was unsigned and it had no direct relevance to the matters before the Committee.

Penalty

[64] The Committee requires the Informant to file written submissions as to penalty and costs with the Executive Officer of the Judicial Control Authority by not later than 20th June 2018. These are to be served on the Respondent who has until 27th June at 5.00pm to file written submissions in reply.

R G McKenzie

CHAIR

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