Appeal – Decision dated 5 July 2021 – Jo-Ann Buckland-Stevens
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024
Outcome: Appeal Dismissed
- On 3 June 2021 the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club held a meeting at Addington Raceway. Race 1 was the Garrards (Amateur Drivers) Mobile Pace.
- At the conclusion of this event, an Information was filed by the Stipendiary Stewards against the Appellant, alleging that as the Driver of Senorita Margarita, she drove carelessly.
- At the conclusion of a defended hearing the Judicial Committee found the charge to be proved.
- After hearing submissions as to penalty, the Appellant had her Advanced Amateur Drivers Licence suspended for a period of 6 weeks from 4 June 2021 to 17 July 2021 and in addition was fined the sum of $250.00.
- The Appellant now appeals against both the decision to find the charge proved and also the severity of the penalty.
- The Rule which the Appellant had been charged with was Rule 869 which provides:
(3) No driver shall in any race drive:
- The Appellant was assisted at the Appeal Hearing by Mr Mark Jones who has enjoyed a highly successful career in the Industry. He submitted the horse Franco Hoffman driven by Ms Wigg, was not entitled to be in the position it was when the alleged offence took place. It therefore followed the alleged offence could not have been committed.
- He further submitted he disagreed with the evidence given by Ms Wigg at the original hearing.
- It was the considered opinion of Mr Jones, a horse should not take a gap unless there is sufficient room for both horse and cart to go through. On this occasion he submitted the horse Franco Hoffman had entered the gap but there was never sufficient room for the cart and therefore Franco Hoffman was not entitled to be in the position it was.
- Further, Franco Hoffman had caused interference to another runner immediately prior to the alleged incident and therefore it was Ms Wigg who should have been charged. Notwithstanding this point, he agreed it was not for either the Judicial Committee or this Committee to deal with matters which had not been actioned by the Stipendiary Stewards at the time by way of charge.
- Naturally Mr Renault was of the view the Judicial Committee at the time was correct in its finding.
- In his view Franco Hoffman had entered the gap and had Senorita Margarita driven by the Appellant, continued on its correct line, there would have been ample room for Franco Hoffman in the gap. In his view the only reason it was necessary for Franco Hoffman to be checked by Ms Wigg was due to the continuous movement of Senorita Margarita moving from the three wide line to the two wide line when not entitled to do so. As a result of this action, Franco Hoffman lost its rightful position in the running.
3. Mr Renault was clear he held the opposite position to Mr Jones. His view was the run was entitled to be taken up by Franco Hoffman as that horse had beaten Senorita Margarita to the gap, but because of the continued inward movement of Senorita Margarita, it was necessary for Ms Wigg to check her horse out of its rightful position
- Prior to taking submissions the Committee viewed films of the incident. We viewed the incident from a number of different camera angles.
- The Appeal was conducted by way of re hearing in that having reviewed the evidence placed before the Judicial Committee on Raceday, we are then required to make our own decision.
- Essentially the matter came down to one issue. Mr Jones on behalf of the Appellant was of the view Franco Hoffman should not have been in the position it was. Mr Renault on behalf of the Respondent maintained it was entitled to be there.
- At both the Judicial Committee hearing and also this Appeal, there were submissions to the effect Franco Hoffman should not have been in the position it was as it had itself earlier caused interference to Four Starzzz Shiraz.
- The Judicial Committee made it clear the charge only related to the actions of the Appellant, moving from the three wide line to the two wide line when she did. It was not for the Judicial Committee to determine any other matter.
- We agree with that.
- Whether or not Franco Hoffman should have been in the position it was is not material. Given her position we agree with the Judicial Committee that the actions of the Appellant in shifting down causing a check to Franco Hoffman amounts to careless driving.
- For these reasons we find the Judicial Committee was correct in its finding and the Appeal is therefore dismissed.
- The Judicial Committee adopted a starting point for careless driving at a low range to be Ten (10) drives or $500. It then gave a discount of Two (2) drives having regard to the good record of the Appellant in her driving career to date. The Judicial Committee also had regard to the status of the Appellant being an Amateur Driver.
- At the Judicial Committee hearing the Appellant had indicated her preference for a fine rather than suspension as it was her wish to continue driving rather than sitting on the side lines.
- The Judicial Committee had regard to that submission and after applying a discount of Two (2) drives, arrived at a finding of Eight (8) drives as being an appropriate penalty. It then applied a Five (5) drive reduction from suspension by substituting a $50 per drive finding. This resulted in a fine of $250 and a suspension for Three (3) drives.
- The Appellant considered that penalty to be harsh. We do not agree.
- In our opinion the Judicial Committee was correct in establishing a starting point of a Ten (10) drive suspension and then granted appropriate discounts. In accordance with the submission made by the Appellant at the time, it then substituted Five (5) of those drives’ suspension for an equivalent fine.
- The penalty finding is well within an acceptable range available to be adopted and therefore we also dismiss the Appeal as to penalty.
- Imposing a suspension on an Amateur or infrequent Driver is problematic. This is particularly given this time of the year where there is an Amateur Drivers Race programmed for 25 July 2021, but we are not aware of any being programmed into August 2021.
- The Appellant confirmed she does not drive in the North Island and therefore any penalty must reflect opportunities in the South Island. Her suspension was stayed pending the outcome of this Appeal, and therefore any suspension can only commence from the date of this decision.
- We came to the conclusion the appropriate manner was to leave the suspension imposed by the Judicial Committee intact at Six (6) weeks.
- Therefore, the Appellant’s Advanced Amateur Drivers Licence is suspended up to and including 16 August 2021. The fine imposed by the Judicial Committee remains at $250.
The Appeal is dismissed.
- Mr Renault on behalf of the Respondent did not seek any costs.
- There will be no costs awarded against the Appellant for this Appeal even though she was unsuccessful.
Decision Date: 05/07/2021
Publish Date: 12/07/2021