Non-Raceday Inquiry – Decision dated 8 February 2022 – Richard Austin
on the papers
Penalty: Driver Richard Austin is fined $150
Mr Austin has admitted a breach of r 847(3) in that on 5 December 2021 he drove the horse STUNIN STAR in Race 4 at the Northern Southland Trotting Club’s trials meeting at Balfour with the chin strap of his safety helmet not securely fastened.
The video footage evidences that the Respondent drove the entire race with the chin strap of his safety helmet undone.
Mr Munro stated that Mr Austin was spoken to at the Ascot Park Raceway on 29 January 2022, where he was shown the films, admitted his error, and signed the Information to admit the charge.
The Informant’s Penalty Submissions
Mr Munro described Mr Austin as a hobby owner/trainer/driver with a handful of horses. Mr Austin has an excellent record.
Mr Munro stated that a matter of this nature was normally dealt with by way of a Minor Infringement, with the penalty being $200. The race on this occasion was a “trial” with 5 other runners. He submitted a penalty in or near the vicinity of the Minor Infringement level was appropriate.
The Respondent’s Penalty Submissions
Mr Austin made a written submission stating there was no question of his guilt and he simply wished to address penalty. He said he had been driving for 50 years both in New Zealand and in NSW and this was the first time this had happened. He also said he made a point of doing up his chin strap even when working horses at home. It was the last thing he did before hopping in the cart. He submitted that a first and final warning should be imposed in lieu of a fine.
Mr Austin has admitted to driving STUNIN STAR at the Balfour trials on 5 December last without having the chin strap of his helmet securely fastened. Mr Austin states he is assiduous in his routine of ensuring his helmet is fastened before getting into the cart.
The penalty by way of Minor Infringement is $200. The incident is at a trial, but health and safety concerns persist. The strap has not come undone during the course of the race. It was never done up. A penalty rather than a warning is required as a consequence. Mr Austin has no previous breaches of this Rule and is aghast at his error. A small deduction from a $200 starting point is appropriate to reflect mitigating factors.
Mr Austin is fined the sum of $150. As the matter has been dealt with on the papers, there is no order for costs.
Decision Date: 08/02/2022
Publish Date: 10/02/2022