You are here: Home / Non race day hearings / Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v PB Briggs - Decision dated 24 December 2018 - Chair, Mr T Utikere

Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v PB Briggs - Decision dated 24 December 2018 - Chair, Mr T Utikere

Created on 28 December 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 P BRIGGS
Respondent

Judicial Committee: Mr T Utikere (Chairman) - Mrs N Moffatt (Member)
Parties: Mr S Irving (for the RIU) -
Mr P Briggs (as the Respondent)


________________________________________________________________________
DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DATED 24 DECEMBER 2018
________________________________________________________________________

FACTS
[1] The Respondent has been charged with a breach of Rules 61.1 and 61.3 of the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing.

[2] The relevant Rules are as follows:

Rule 61.1: The Owner, Trainer or Person in charge of a Greyhound Nominated to compete in a Race, shall produce the Greyhound for the Race free of any Prohibited Substance.

Rule 61.3: Without limiting any of the provisions of these Rules, the Owner and Trainer or person for the time being in charge of any Greyhound brought onto the Racecourse of any Club for the purposes of engaging in any Race which is found on testing, examination or analysis conducted pursuant to these Rules to have received a Prohibited Substance shall be severally guilty of an Offence.

[3] The specific Information alleged:

Information No A7170
THAT on 14 November 2018 Paul Brian BRIGGS, licensed trainer and person in charge of the greyhound ‘Bigtime Boy’ who ran in Race 14 at the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club meeting at Hatrick Raceway, failed to present the greyhound free of the Category 4 Prohibited Substance, Caffeine and its Metabolites, being an offence under the provisions of Rules 61.1 and 61.3 and punishable pursuant to Rule 63.1 and 63.4 of the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association Rules.”

[4] The relevant Penalty provisions are contained in Rules 63.1 and 63.4 which state:
Rule 63.1: “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.”

Rule 63.4: “Any Greyhound which competes in a Race and is found to be the recipient of a Prohibited Substance shall be Disqualified from that Race.”

PRELIMINARY MATTERS
[5] The Committee had previously issued a Minute dated 12 December which identified that the Committee was in receipt of the Notice of Appointment, the Charge Rules and Penalty Provisions and an Authority to Charge Letter from the General Manager (Stewards) of the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU), Mr N McIntyre.

[6] The Minute also confirmed that in light of the respondent’s endorsement of a Guilty plea, this matter would be dealt with on the papers with the consent of both parties. The Committee then indicated it would issue a Reserved Decision in writing once Penalty Submissions had been received from the RIU and Mr Briggs. They have complied with that direction and we are now in a position to do so.

AGREED SUMMARY OF FACTS
[7] The RIU submitted the following Agreed Summary of Facts:

The Respondent Paul Brian Briggs is 48 years old and is a licenced Owner Trainer under the Rules of New Zealand Greyhound Racing (GRNZ). He has held his Trainer’s licence for approximately three months and has trained one greyhound during this time. He shares the kennels and training facility of his associate Mark Goodier at Mr Goodier’s residence in Papaiti, near Wanganui.

Mr Briggs jointly owns (with Mr Goodier) and trains 3yo dog ‘Bigtime Boy’ which finished second in Race 14, the ‘Laser Plumbing C1’, at the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club’s meeting at Hatrick Raceway on 14 November 2018. ‘Bigtime Boy’ earned gross stake money of $331.

The greyhound was post-race swabbed (#128765) and on 29 November the NZ Racing Laboratory Services issued a certificate of analysis detailing the sample positive to Caffeine and its metabolites Theobromine, Theophylline and Paraxanthine. Caffeine is a Category 4 Prohibited Substance per the GRNZ regulations.

On 03 December Mr Briggs and Mr Goodier were interviewed at the property of Mr Goodier. Mr Goodier explained that the day before the race ‘Bigtime Boy’ had dug under a fence to access a plastic rubbish bag which his wife had left out the previous night for curb-side collection.

The rubbish bag was from his wife’s pet grooming business and contained among other food and waste items, animal hair and a number of used tea bags which contain Caffeine. Mr Goodier stated that ‘Bigtime Boy’ had “got into” the rubbish bag ripping it open. Later that day the dog had vomited and Mr Goodier identified animal hair in the contents but no remnants of teabags. It is now believed that the dog has also ingested some of the tea bags from the rubbish bag.

Mr Goodier did not advise Mr Briggs of the incident until days after the race as it was not unusual for ‘Bigtime Boy’ to vomit sometimes after strenuous exercise and drinking water. At the time of presenting ‘Bigtime Boy’ to the races, neither was aware that the dog had eaten teabags.

Mr Goodier has been involved in greyhound racing since 2011, holding an Owner Trainer Licence since April 2016. Mr Briggs has been a licensed trainer for approximately three months. Neither has any previous charges under GRNZ Rules.

DECISION
[8] As the charge was admitted, the Committee deemed the charge proved.

RIU PENALTY SUBMISSIONS
[9] Both parties were invited to file written Penalty Submissions. For the RIU, Mr Irving provided the following Submissions:

The Respondent, 48 year old Paul Brian Briggs is a Licensed Owner Trainer under the Rules of Greyhound Racing New Zealand. He has held his trainers licence for approximately three months and trains one dog out of his associate Mark Goodier’s (GRNZ Owner Trainer) kennels near Wanganui.

The Respondent has admitted a breach of Rule 61.1 & 61.3. The circumstances are detailed in the attached Summary of Facts which have been agreed. The penalties which may be imposed are detailed in the attached Charge Rule and Penalty Provisions Document.

The RIU believes that an appropriate penalty for this breach is a $2,000 fine. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class of compounds. It is both a central nervous system and a metabolic stimulant and is capable of reducing physical fatigue. It can therefore improve both sprint and endurance performance.

Caffeine is classed as a Category 4 Prohibited Substance under the Rules of greyhound racing. Although there is no requirement to establish the cause of administration for a breach of the Prohibited Substance Rule, the RIU investigation concluded that the positive swab resulted from ‘Bigtime Boy’ ingesting used tea bags from a rubbish bag.

As per the JCA Penalty Guidelines the starting point for a Category 4 Greyhound ‘Presentation’ offence is six months Disqualification and/or a $5000 Fine. Analysis of TAB betting records revealed no unusual bets associated with the greyhound, the trainer / owner or the race. Neither the Respondent nor Mr Goodier bet on the dog.

Under Rule 61.4 ‘Bigtime Boy’ is required to be disqualified from the race.

PREVIOUS RELEVANT CASES
RIU v D (17.09.2015) – Caffeine positive in greyhound from ingesting chocolate biscuits. $2500 fine.

MITIGATING FACTORS
It is acknowledged that the Respondent (and Mr Goodier) have been fully cooperative throughout the investigation. The Respondent has pleaded guilty to the breach at the first opportunity. The Respondent has been involved in greyhound industry for only a very short period of time. He is the quintessential ‘hobby’ trainer, currently training one dog.

The Respondent shares the facility of Mr Goodier and it is his wife who left the rubbish bag next to the fence. The greyhound has dug a sizeable hole under the fence to access the bag and then access it under the fence. It is believed that where the bag was placed and what happened to it was largely unforeseeable. At the time of the race the Respondent was unaware that his dog had “got into” the rubbish bag as he had not been told by Mr Goodier.

The main difference in this case to RIU v D is that D was aware that his dog had eaten chocolates and “took a risk by starting the greyhound and that perhaps he was blas√© about it. However, he was not expecting his greyhound to win…” In this case Mr Goodier was unaware the dog had eaten teabags, only confirming it had eaten animal fur upon inspection of the dogs vomit.

AGGRAVATING FACTORS
Mr Goodier was careless in that he did not inform the Respondent that the dog had got into the rubbish bag, which he knew contained, among potentially other food waste items, used tea bags which he also knew contained the prohibited substance Caffeine. This may have led to discussion and the option given to the Respondent to scratch the dog.

COSTS
The RIU are seeking no costs.

CONCLUSION
Given the recommended starting point of $5000, the mitigating and aggravating factors as listed and the overall circumstances considered in this case, I believe a $2,000 fine is an appropriate penalty.

RESPONDENT PENALTY SUBMISSIONS
[10] In response, Mr Briggs submitted the following Penalty Submissions:
Firstly I would like to thank the judicial committee and the RIU for the speed and consideration whilst dealing with this case.

As you have heard I am a hobby trainer, with very little training experience to date, and I am still upset and sorry that this accidental positive swab has occurred.

The dog on that particular day decided to dig a hole under the fence, which had never occurred before and in that context was not foreseeable. It was just a series of events that came together on that day, which contributed to the accident.

However since the event we have taken measures at the property to ensure that this cannot happen again, and also undertaken a review of all the possible risks and working practices.

I understand entirely why a fine is necessary, but because of my hobby trainer status, only having one dog and derived very little income from him, I feel that $1000 would be more appropriate in this particular case.

REASONS FOR PENALTY
[11] The Committee has considered the submissions from both parties, and thanks them for complying with the timeframes for the filing of their submissions.

[12] The RIU appear to have accepted the respondent’s explanation that the caffeine came to be ingested by BIGTIME BOY when it dug a hole under a fence and accessed a rubbish bag placed by Mr Goodier’s wife for kerb-side collection. Mr Goodier’s observation of some of the contents from the rubbish bag in the dog’s vomit thereafter, have allowed for this connection to be made.

[13] It is clear that Mr Briggs’ arrangements for the supervision of his greyhound was far from ideal. He is the licensed trainer, yet he did not have an appreciation for the need to have a direct level of supervision over the dog’s kenneling and pastoral needs. The Committee puts this down to his limited experience as a Licensed Trainer, of some three months.

[14] Caffeine is categorised as a Category 4 Prohibited Substance; so under the JCA Penalty Guidelines, attracts a $5,000 fine starting point. While Disqualification is also identified as a potential starting point, we do not believe it is warranted for the current breach. Accordingly, we have regard to the $5,000 fine as our starting point.

[15] The RIU have referred us to the precedent case of RIU v Dempsey. We have also had the opportunity to look at previous breaches within the greyhound code, where the prohibited substance is that of caffeine. All are quite different from the current breach before us.

16] In RIU v Bennett 1, Mr Bennett had more than 30 years experience in the racing industry and the source of the caffeine was from green tea extract in a ‘Nutrience’ product. The positive came at a time when there was much publicity of the ‘Nutrience’ products and the need to be vigilant. That decision also made reference to Finn and Blackburn. Bennett was fined $3,500.

[17] In RIU v Finn2 , the respondent was negligent in allowing ‘Nutrience’ kibble that contained green tea extract to be fed to his dog. Finn’s further point of difference was that it concerned a dog that won the Group 1 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar. The end result was a $3,500 fine and more than $3,300 in costs.

[18] In RIU v Blackburn3, the respondent mixed cat food which was also known to contain green tea extract in with daily kibble. This offence concerned two greyhounds and was the respondent’s second breach relating to caffeine. Her first breach in 2010 resulted in a $1,500 fine and $500 costs. The more recent 2015 breach carried a $4,000 fine.

[19] We consider that Mr Briggs’ offending is at a lower level than the offending that occurred in the cases cited above. While there are similarities between the current case and that of Dempsey, such as both Briggs and Dempsey are described as ‘hobby’ trainers; Dempsey is much worse. This is because in that case the respondent was aware that there was a distinct possibility that the dog had ingested chocolates, but he decided to run the risk and race his dog anyway.

___________________

1 RIU v GT Bennett, Penalty Decison dated 1 July 2016.

2 RIU v B Finn, Decision dated 28 September 2015.

3 RIU v RD Blackburn, Decision dated 18 August 2015.

 

[20] We do not consider there to be any aggravating features to warrant an uplift from our starting point. It is accepted that there was no deliberate administration, and betting record analysis do not identify any concerning discrepancies.

[21] We accept that there is a low level of negligence on the part of Mr Briggs. He had no clue that his dog had ingested tea bags, containing caffeine, prior to it racing on 14 November. This was largely due to the fact that the dog was domiciled at a shared kennel and training facility located on Mr Goodier’s property. As the Licensed Trainer, the respondent was ultimately responsible and it seems he has learnt his lesson in this regard.

[22] In mitigation, it is clear that he has taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence; specifically the respondent has undertaken a review of potential risks and practices and implemented measures to ensure compliance with the Rules. He has also admitted the breach at the first opportunity, has been co-operative with the investigation process, and while he has a clear record under the Rule, we also note that Mr Briggs has only been licensed for three months. As such, he does not have the long record of history within the greyhound industry to call upon as identified in the Finn decision4 .

[23] After considering all factors, in our assessment a fine of $2,000 is appropriate.

----------------

4 At para 62 of that decision.

 

PENALTY
[24] Mr Briggs is fined $2,000.

ORDERS
[25] The provision of Rule 63.4 directs the requirement for BIGTIME BOY to be disqualified from Race 14 at the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club’s Meeting on 14 November 2018.

[26] The following order is made:
A. That BIGTIME BOY is disqualified from Race 14 (Laser Plumbing C1) of the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club’s Meeting on 14 November 2018. Any financial benefits paid, or to be paid, as a result of BIGTIME BOY’s placing in that race are to be refunded for redistribution in accordance with the amended placings.

COSTS
[27] The RIU do not seek any costs. While some costs have been borne by the JCA, the Committee declines to exercise its discretion to make such an order.

Signed at Palmerston North this 24th day of December 2018.

________________
Mr Tangi Utikere
Chairman

 

 

Document Actions