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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v M Black - Penalty Decision (Rehearing) dated 18 May 2021 - Chair, Hon J W Gendall QC

Created on 19 May 2021

BEFORE A COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY

Information Number: A13753

BETWEEN

Racing Integrity Unit

Scott Wallis, Chief Stipendiary Steward

Informant

AND

Marsha-Lee Black, Licensed GRNZ Trainer

Respondent

INQUIRY HELD ON THE PAPERS ON 18 MAY 2021

Judicial Committee:

Hon JW Gendall QC (Chair)

Mr LN McCutcheon (Member)

PENALTY DECISION (REHEARING) OF THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

1. Ms Black is a Licenced Owner/Trainer under the Rules of Greyhound Racing NZ (GRNZ). She was charged with a breach of Rule 62.1(w) with making a false statement, on 6 April 2021, in that, during a routine kennel inspection by Ms Philippa Kinsey, a duly appointed Stipendiary Steward, stated that the broodbitch ON DEMAND and her newly born puppies were not domiciled at her kennels. She further falsely stated that the greyhound was currently at the kennels of Mr R and Ms L Udy and would be moving to her kennels “in the coming days”. She knew that both these statements to be false and intended to mislead the Stipendiary Steward.

2. Ms Black admitted the charge and by consent the matter was dealt with on the papers. We received a Summary of Facts and Submissions as to penalty from the Informant. Ms Black did not initially make any submissions as to penalty and the Committee delivered a Decision on 30 April 2021 but subsequently granted Ms Black a rehearing as she wished to make submissions and for various reasons had omitted to do so. We have now determined the matter on a rehearing basis.

3. Rule 62.1(w) relevantly provides that it is an offence if any person:

makes any statement which is to his/her knowledge false…orally…to a member of the Board, Steward, Racecourse Investigator, …or an official in the execution of his/her duty

4. The general penalties provided in Rule 63.1 may apply for such a breach and include a fine of up to $10,000, disqualification, suspension, warning off.

FACTS

5. The Respondent is Licensed with GRNZ as an Owner and Trainer. On 6 April 2021 a Stipendiary Steward, Ms Philippa Kinsey undertook a routine inspection of Ms Black’s Te Kauwhata kennels. The Steward knew that she had a broodbitch ON DEMAND that had been due to whelp (give birth to a litter). In fact, the bitch had given birth to a litter of puppies on 31 March 2021. The Steward asked the Respondent if the greyhound and pups were on her property. The Respondent’s demeanour when asked that question displayed some unease, and she replied that the broodbitch and puppies were located at the property of Mr and Ms Udy (another Trainer) where they had been whelped (born). She went on to add that the dogs would be back on her own property within the “next few days”. When asked where the broodbitch and puppies would then be housed the Respondent stated that she would likely set up a pen inside her house. These statements were false.

6. The Steward then visited the property of Mr and Ms Udy and found no one present. So, the Steward returned to the Respondent’s kennels and asked again if ON DEMAND and her puppies were on the property. The Respondent then admitted that they were in a room at the back of her kennels and had been there since 2 April 2021, two days after whelping. When asked why she did not supply this information in the first instance she said it was so she would not “get anyone into trouble”. She was unable to elaborate who, or why, would be “in trouble” if she had told the truth when asked if the greyhounds were on her property.

7. On 15 April 2021, when the Respondent was visited by the Steward in order for the Information to be served on her, Ms Udy was present as support. The Respondent was again asked why she had lied and knowingly made the false statements, she said that Ms Udy had told her not to tell anyone that the puppies were domiciled at her kennels and she had been “acting on instructions”. She and Ms Udy were asked why it was that they did not want anyone to know the truth and Ms Udy’s response was that it was “nobody’s business”.

PENALTY

8. The Informant submitted that any penalty has to give proper emphasis to the accountability and denunciation principles and to deter others from breaches of the Rules. The Committee agrees with its contention that wilfully misleading a Stipendiary Steward is conduct that goes to the heart of the Code’s regulatory regime. For the public to have confidence in the integrity of Greyhound Racing it is vital that those involved in the Industry are forthright and honest with racing officials.

9. Persons in the Industry who hold Licences must understand that the Licence is a privilege granted to them to participate, and it is not a “right” to which they are entitled. The Rules exist to protect the Code and are there to be obeyed.

10. Ms Black’s written submissions, now received, highlight certain personal factors which led her to act hastily, and to her disappointment she said she was not sure if she was allowed to keep the puppies at her home so soon after they were born. She frankly acknowledged her “fault” and expressed genuine remorse and sorry for “letting myself down and those around me”.

11. Any penalty has to be fact dependent and reasonably proportionate to the breach and the offender. There have not, to the Committee’s knowledge, been precisely similar cases, but generally fines have been imposed.

12. Whilst it may be aggravating that the Respondent, on the first occasion, made false statements to the Stipendiary Steward, the Committee is satisfied that she acted rather in panic and without thinking. But Animal Welfare issues must be at the forefront and especially with whelping and care of litters matters. The GRNZ Health and Welfare Standards make it clear that all persons involved in breeding have licensing and stringent obligations for the care of greyhound bitches and puppies and permitting inspections (see Rule 7 of the Standards).

13. It is a mitigating factor that the Respondent has had a lengthy time in the Industry with a good record for any Non Raceday breaches of the Rules. It is further mitigated that she has expressed genuine remorse and contrition, and that certain personal emotional factors contributed to her error. She is a single person with limited earnings from her training operation and any fine will have a significant impact on her.

14. We consider a fine of $500 is sufficient to meet the special circumstances of this case. There is no order as to costs.

By the Committee this 18th day of May 2021

Hon JW Gendall QC (Chair)

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