Non Raceday Inquiry – Decision dated 5 July 2021 – Malcolm Murray Grant

ID: RIB3291

Respondent(s):
Malcolm Murray Grant - Trainer

Applicant:
Mr S Irving - Stipendiary Steward

Adjudicators:
Mr R G McKenzie (Chair), Mr D J Anderson (formerly JCA Judicial Committee on date of hearing 26 June 2021)

Persons Present:
Mr S Irving - Stipendiary Steward, Mr M M Grant - Respondent, Mrs Grant - wife of the Respondent

Information Number:
A14702

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision

Charge:
Misconduct

Rule(s):
87.1.o

Plea:
Admitted

Race Number:
R1

Hearing Date:
26/06/2021

Hearing Location:
Christchurch

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Trainer Malcolm Murray Grant is fined $1200

EVIDENCE:

The Charge

[1]     Information No. A14702 alleges that, at the meeting of Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club held at Addington Raceway on Friday, 28th May 2021, the Respondent committed a breach of Rule 87.1.o in that he “used insulting and offensive language toward RIU Swabbing Official, Jeremy Hardman”.

[2]     Mr Irving produced a letter dated 11th June 2021 from Mr M R Godber, General Manager of the Racing Integrity Unit, authorising the filing of the information pursuant to Rule 91.2 a.

[3]     The Information was served on the Respondent on 12th June 2021.

[4]     Mr Grant was present at the hearing of the Information and, following the reading of the charge and Rule to him, he confirmed that he admitted the charge.

[5]     The charge was found proved accordingly.

The Rule

[6]     Rule 87.1 provides as follows:

Any person (including an official) commits an offence if he/she:

o.      has, in relation to a Greyhound or Greyhound racing, done a thing, or omitted to do a thing which is negligent, dishonest, corrupt, fraudulent or improper, or constitutes misconduct.

 The Facts

[7]     Mr Irving presented the following written Summary of Facts which, Mr Grant accepted, was agreed:

  1. The Respondent, Malcolm Murray Grant, is a licensed Public Trainer under the Rules of the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association.
  2. He is 60 years old and has been licensed under these Rules for over 40 years, having held a Public Trainer’s licence for 26 years.
  3. At the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club’s meeting at Addington Raceway on the 28th May 2021, Jeremy Hardman was the RIU appointed Swabbing Official on duty.
  4. Mr Hardman is a part-time Swabbing Official and an itinerant music teacher, who has been employed by the RIU since October 2020.
  5. Following the running of Race 1, won by the Respondent’s greyhound “Call The Tune”, the dog was selected by the Chairman of Stewards for a post-race swab.
  6. As the Respondent returned from the dais with his dog, he was informed by Mr Hardman, in the presence of Steward, David Wadley, that “Call The Tune” was required to be swabbed.
  7. The Respondent responded to Mr Hardman “Right you. what’s your name?” with his hand outstretched to shake hands.
  8. Mr Hardman replied that the Respondent knew his name and did not shake the Respondent’s hand.
  9. The Respondent then said to Mr Hardman “Get f………, you’re not touching my f……. dog.”
  10. Mr Wadley warned the Respondent to settle down. However, he continued with “F… off. He’s not swabbing the dog because I don’t trust him. You can swab the dog”, pointing at Mr Wadley.
  11. Also in hearing distance were several other Licensed Persons.
  12. The trio continued walking to the hose bay.
  13. At the hose bay, the Respondent again began abusing Mr Hardman, calling him a liar and a ********** (derogatory term) and telling him he should jump off a bridge or a cliff and kill himself.
  14. Again, this abuse was in a raised voice and in the presence of other Licence Holders.
  15. Again, the abuse required Mr Wadley to intervene and he instructed Mr Hardman to return to the vet room while Mr Wadley stayed with the Respondent and his dog.
  16. When the Respondent had appeared to have calmed down, Mr Wadley escorted him to the swab kennels to secure the dog.
  17. Having secured the dog, the Respondent continued to call Mr Hardman a liar, referencing a previous conversation between Mr Hardman and the Respondent’s wife, and continued to humiliate him by calling him a “p… taker”.
  18. Throughout this prolonged abuse, Mr Hardman remained calm and professional.
  19. The Respondent was formally interviewed at Addington Raceway on 2 June 2021.
  20. He admitted to being angry and annoyed, to raising his voice and to using the words as described, but cannot recall saying the comment regarding jumping off a bridge.
  21. In explanation he stated, with reference to a previous incident, he wanted to let “bygones be bygones” and, when Mr Hardman did not shake his hand, he “lost his cool” and told him what he thought of him. He was highly embarrassed at his prolonged outburst.
  22. Grant has one previous behavioural NRI charge from 2014.

[8]     Mr Irving then submitted that the case in which the facts were closest to the present case was the case of Waretini (2014) referred to in his penalty submissions – fined $750 after the Judicial Committee adopted a $1,000 starting point. The abuse was prolonged and the aggravating factors in each case were similar. He accepted that Mr Grant’s remorse was clearly genuine.

SUBMISSIONS:

Submissions of Respondent

[9]     Mr Grant said that there was no excuse for his behaviour.  He said that he first obtained a Handler’s Licence when he was aged 12. He is now 60, he said. He has not had a “run in” with an Official in all the years since then. He has seen many Stewards and Swabbing Stewards come and go, he said.

[10]   Several things had happened, he said. Firstly, he had gone to shake Mr Hardman’s hand to say, “let bygones be bygones” and clear the air, referring to an incident in the swabbing room involving Mrs Grant. Mr Hardman would not shake his hand, after which he “blew his top badly” and continued. On the trip home from the meeting, he was “devastated” at what he had done. He is deeply sorry and is willing to make amends to all of those affected, he said.

[11]   Asked by the Committee whether he had made an apology to Mr Hardman, Mr Grant said that he preferred to show his remorse by his actions first and, when the time is right, he will make amends to Mr Hardman. He thought that it was best to let time heal. He had had one swab by Mr Hardman since the incident, he said.

[12]   Mr Grant said that, running a big kennel (about 35 dogs in work), things go wrong on a daily or weekly basis, and it is necessary to keep a cool head.

[13]   Mrs Grant was offered the opportunity to make a submission but only wished to confirm that her husband was devastated following the incident.

[14]   A number of character references had been filed with the Judicial Control Authority.

Discussion

[15]   A discussion followed in relation to the word that was used and referred to blanked out in para 13 of the Summary of Facts. After that discussion, the Committee ruled that the exact language would be suppressed, for reasons which are also suppressed. A number of bystanders, however, had heard the language used.

REASON FOR DECISION:

As Mr Grant admitted the charge it was found proved accordingly.

SUBMISSION FOR PENALTY:

Penalty Submissions of the Informant

[16]   Mr Irving presented the following Penalty Submissions in writing:

  1. Introduction

1.1 The Respondent, Malcolm Murray Grant, is a Licensed Public Trainer under the Rules of New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association.

1.2 He is 60 years old and currently trains between 25-35 racing greyhounds.

1.3 He has been involved in the greyhound racing industry all his working life.

1.4 The RIU seek a penalty of a $1,000 fine.

  1. Offending

2.1 The details of Mr Grant’s offending are contained in the Racing Integrity Unit Summary of Facts which has been agreed.

  1. Penalty Provisions

3.1   The penalty provisions for this matter are contained under 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.

  1. Sentencing Principles

4.1   The four principles of sentencing can be summarised briefly:

  • Penalties are designed to punish the offender for his / her wrongdoing. They are not meant to be retributive in the sense 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 similar offences.
  • A penalty should also reflect the disapproval of the JCA for the type of behaviour in question
  • The need to rehabilitate the offender should be taken into

4.2 All four principles apply in this matter.

  1. Precedents

5.1 The Guidelines on penalty (2015) for Harness and Thoroughbred Racing both list a starting point for the serious racing offence of using offensive, insulting or            abusive language to an official as a $1,500 fine (Rule 1001(1) (v) (ii) and 801(1) (s) (ii) respectively). There is no equivalent starting point guideline listed for                    Greyhound Racing so, therefore, any penalty must be fact dependent.

5.2 The following Non-Raceday Inquiry Greyhound Racing charges for abusing an official have resulted in fines ranging from $250 – $750:

  • RIU v WARETINI (2018) – Offensive language to a Steward. $750 fine.
  • RIU v KETTLEWELL (2018) – Abusive language to a Steward. $250 fine.
  • RIU v WEIR (2017) – Improper and offensive language to a Steward. $500 fine.
  • RIU v HODGSON (2015) – Improper language and behaviour to a Steward. $400 fine.
  • RIU v LANE (2015) – Insulting language directed towards Stewards. $300 fine.

Penalty Submissions of the Respondent

[17]   Mr Grant confirmed that he was in a position to pay a fine. He accepted that, given the way he had acted, a “decent fine” is warranted.

REASON FOR PENALTY:

[18]    It is a sad fact, and it does its participants no credit that, in the Code of Greyhound Racing and more so than in either of the Equine Codes, charges involving misconduct by way of abuse of and threats to Officials are prevalent. This case is just another in a long line.

[19]   It is trite to say it, but such conduct towards Officials carrying out their appointed duties on raceday is completely unacceptable. By the very nature of the Industry, participants will not always agree with those officials.

[20]   In the present case, it is hard to reason why the Respondent reacted in the manner that he did towards the Swabbing Official, Mr Hardman. It appears that there may have been some history between the Respondent and Mr Hardman and the Respondent had, it seems, been provoked by Mr Hardman’s refusal to shake his offered hand, for whatever reason, but, nevertheless, the Respondent’s reaction was out of all proportion and was inexcusable.

[21]   To the Respondent’s credit, he has not disputed the facts, or the particular language used. This is not always the case in such cases. Furthermore, he displayed genuine remorse at the hearing and has told us that he will apologise to Mr Hardman following the outcome of this charge.

[22]   His admission of the charge and his remorse are mitigating factors. He told the Committee that he has not been charged with misconduct towards an official on any previous occasion in more than 40 years in the sport. However, the Committee is aware of an admitted, relatively minor, charge of misconduct in 2014 involving verbal abuse of another catcher after the finish of a race. He was fined $100, reflective of the minor nature of the breach and the language used. We have ignored this as an aggravating factor.

[23]   It is an aggravating factor that the Respondent’s conduct was sustained over a prolonged period, it seems, with little respite. However, this factor is factored into the starting point that we have adopted.

[24] As pointed out in the Informant’s Penalty Submissions, the Penalty Guide for Greyhound Racing, curiously, does not prescribe a starting point for penalty in misconduct cases. It is logical to adopt the starting point of the other two Codes – that is to say, a fine of $1,500. In doing so, we are mindful of the enjoinder from New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association for harsher penalties as deterrents. Penalties have, in many cases in the past, tended to be merciful.

[25]   The Respondent is entitled to some credit for his admission of the breach, his cooperative manner and his obvious remorse. We have acknowledged this by way of a $300, or 20 per cent, discount from the starting point.

[26]   The Committee is satisfied that a fine of $1,200 will suffice to satisfy the general purposes of sentencing which are well-established – to hold the offender accountable for his actions, to promote in the offender a sense of responsibility, to denounce the conduct of the offender and to deter the offender or other persons from committing the same or a similar offence.

CONCLUSIONS:

[27]   Mr Grant is fined the sum of $1,200.

Costs

[28]      No order is made as to costs; the hearing having taken place on a raceday.

Decision Date: 05/07/2021

Publish Date: 08/07/2021