Non-Raceday Inquiry – Penalty Decision dated 8 November 2021 – Paul Scott

ID: RIB5596

Respondent(s):
Paul Raymond Brian Scott - Other

Applicant:
Simon Irving, Investigator for Racing Integrity Board

Adjudicators:
Russell McKenzie (Chair) and Dave Anderson

Information Number:
A15801

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision

Charge:
Using Improper and Insulting Language to Steward

Rule(s):
62.1 (f) - Offences

Plea:
Not Admitted

Hearing Date:
03/11/2021

Hearing Location:
On the Papers

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Mr Scott is fined the sum of $850.

BACKGROUND:

In our substantive decision dated 18 October 2021 finding the charge proved, the Committee required the parties to file written submissions as to penalty. Those submissions have now been received.

PENALTY SUBMISSIONS OF THE APPLICANT:

1. The Respondent, Paul Raymond Brian Scott, is the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club’s (CGRC) Track Curator at Addington Raceway. He is 68 years old and has been the Track Curator at Addington for 14 years.

2. Mr Scott has had the charge of “Using Improper and Insulting Language to a Steward” (Rule 62.1) proved at an NRI on 6 October 2021.

3. The penalties which apply to this case are detailed under Rule 63.1:

Any Person found guilty of an Offence under these Rules shall be liable to:

  1. a fine not exceeding $10,000 for any one (1) Offence; and/or
  2. Suspension; and/or
  3. Disqualification; and/or
  4. Warning Off

4. The JCA guidelines on penalty (2015) for Harness Racing 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 $1500 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.

The following Non Raceday Inquiry Greyhound Racing charges for abusing an official have resulted in fines ranging from $250 – $1250:

  • RIU v Grant(2021) – Offensive language to a Swabbing Official. $1250 fine.
  • 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.

Sentencing Principles

5. 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 that 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 RIB for the type of behaviour in question.
  • The need to rehabilitate the offender should be taken into account.

All four principles have relevance in this case.

Aggravating Factors

6. Mr Scott is a professional Track Curator employed by the CGRC for approximately 14 years and should know the importance of conducting himself in a professional manner. Mr Scott has shown no remorse for the statements he made to Mr Wadley.

Mitigating Factors

7. Mr Scott has been cooperative throughout the RIB process and has no previous breaches of the rules.

Conclusion

8. When determining penalty, the RIB submit that the Committee has regard to the purpose of the proceedings which include: to ensure the rules are complied with, to uphold and maintain the high standards expected of officials and licenceholders alike and to protect the other participants in racing.

The RIB submit that the breach can be dealt with by way of a monetary penalty and therefore seek a $1000 fine.

Costs

9. The RIB seek costs of $53.75 for the transcription of Mr Scott’s interview.

PENALTY SUBMISSIONS OF THE RESPONDENT:

1. Mr Paul Raymond Brian Scott is 68 years old and has been involved in racing as a track curator, race starter and trainer for nearly 20 years. There have been no complaints, incidents or charges against him previously and he has not made a complaint in that time. As track curator, Mr Scott’s role is responsible for the welfare of the dogs on the track. He has always conducted himself in a professional manner.

2.  Mr Wallis said he was surprised at the language allegedly used towards Mr Wadley as that would have been out of character for Mr Scott. It is not possible for Mr Scott to show any remorse for statements that he did not make to Mr Wadley. Mr Scott has been very co-operative throughout the RIB process as he had nothing to hide and was only guilty of not believing what measures the RIB stewards and investigators would go to protect themselves and their RIB image.

3.  It seems that this “he said… he said…” case has been decided on the basis that Mr Wadley’s evidence is deemed more credible and compelling because of his job status with the RIB. He also had the benefit of the corroboration from a close friend and work colleague, Mr Wallis.

4. Compelling (meaning cannot be refuted).

Refutable evidence from JCA decision.

7.This incident on the track needs to be considered only as it provides context for what ensued.

8. (i) Mr Wadley at first opportunity phoned his manager, Mr Wallis, to tell him what the respondent had said to him.

Apparently he told Mr Wallis exactly what was said but his story changed. His story is not consistent. There is no proof of what was said.

   (ii) Mr Wadley then went to the stewards room where Messrs Quirk and Music were present and he told them.

There was no statement from Mr Quirk regarding the conversation and the statement from Tony Music did not state the language allegedly used and that the ‘f word’ was only used in general context.

 (iii) Mr Wadley had no apparent motive for making what would have been a false complaint.

He had already made a false complaint about Mr Scott’s attempt to run him over.

(iv) Mr Wadley had not made any previous similar complaint against any person in his five years working as a greyhound racing steward.

Mr Scott had not had any complaint against him in the near 20 years of being involved in greyhound racing.

(v) Mr Wallis gave evidence as to Mr Wadley’s state of mind – “the most worked up I have ever heard him sound”.

Mr Wadley stated numerous times that he is a trained professional and is trained to deal with any situation. He claimed to have used that professionalism numerous times that day. It has to be questionable whether he was “worked up” at all.

9.   The evidence of Mr Wadley is credible and compelling and the Committee prefers his evidence to the Respondent’s denial, which is self-serving.

To tell the truth is not self-serving. Mr Scott clearly states in his statement that he did not use the words alleged by Mr Wadley and was backed up by the immediate conversations with Tony Music whose statement supported Mr Scott in the use of the ‘F word’ in general context.

Mr Wadley to this day still denies fault in his actions driving in front of the water truck. Even though the committee and Simon Irving agreed that he was in the wrong. This should cast doubt on his credibility. Mr Scott would surely have more cause to abuse Mr Wadley at the time of the water cart incident but did not?

10. In regards to BELFAST DEMO, there is no evidence that this had or may have had any effect on Mr Wadley and the Committee has disregarded it.

The fact that the trainers involved said this was the worst case of animal welfare that they had seen in 20 years at the track and that the evidence was not allowed to be heard is concerning. Mr Wallis received a phone call from Mr Wadley after Race 2 concerning this incident. The committee said there is no evidence that this had an effect on Mr Wadley. The evidence of Mr Wallis (23 of Evidence of Scott Wallis) proves that Mr Wadley must have been really rattled because he had rung him regarding the incident. Therefore there was evidence that he had been affected. The foul language used against Mr Wadley in the same day incident was far worse than the “f-word” allegedly used by Mr Scott and in any appeal by Mr Scott against penalty imposed will be detailed by the connections of BELFAST DEMO and other witnesses on the day as also casting doubt on Mr Wadley’s credibility.

5.  RIB achievements in case against Paul Scott:

  • To protect its own people instead of making them accountable.
  • Have kept the worst animal welfare at the track in 20 years out of the public spotlight by having it disregarded and brushed under the carpet.
  • Ruin Paul Scott’s near 20-year reputation and destroy his credibility.
  • Creating a divide between the RIB and people that work hard in the industry.
  • Causing irreparable damage to the working relationship between the RIB and members of the track.

6.  Integrity- the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Mr Simon Irving in his closing submission said in terms of a scale of seriousness recent penalties in cases of behavioral offences against an official range between $400 and $700, as opposed to a serious racing offence. This case is low on a scale of seriousness and therefore the standard of proof is lower than that for a serious racing offence.

So Mr Irving has watered down the offence to get the conviction and now exaggerated the offence to get a higher penalty. That exercise has shown he has no moral principles and proven the “do what it takes” culture in the RIB. A $1000 penalty at the NRI on the 6th of October would have put it in a more serious range offence therefore needing a higher standard of proof. If one has such wide views of their moral principles and the rest are trained in the same way it must put doubt in the credibility of other’s statements.

7.  With the amount of doubt surrounding the credibility of witnesses, the overwhelming lack of compelling evidence, and the element of doubt, the JCA must take a cautious approach to this penalty.

8.  The respondent submits that this should be dealt with as a warning.

REASONS FOR PENALTY:

1.  The Judicial Committee in the recent case of Grant (a Greyhound Racing case), in its decision, said:

“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. 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”.

2.  This Committee can only endorse those comments. The present case, involving the language used by the Respondent to Stipendiary Steward, Mr Wadley, is yet another in that “long line”. It would appear that the penalties imposed in previous cases, and there are six referred to in the Applicant’s penalty submissions (above), are not serving to deter others from offending in a like fashion.

3.  There is no justification for officials being treated in this manner by industry participants, whatever the circumstances. In the present case, the Respondent had, clearly, been upset by the incident on the track after Race 6 at the meeting.

4.  This Committee found in its substantive decision dated that “the incident could probably have been handled better by both parties but we tend to the view that the Respondent was entitled to the “right of way” in order to be able to perform his job without hindrance”. In other words, the Respondent was probably entitled to be upset, but we further found that “that in no way justifies, and can never justify, the response and the language that he used towards Mr Wadley which the Committee is satisfied was both “improper” and “insulting” by any definition.”

5.  It is probably fair to say that the present case is not the worst case of its kind. It may even be that, had the Respondent showed some remorse at the time and apologised to Mr Wadley, this charge may well not have been brought. Be that as it may, the Respondent has still neither made an apology nor shown any remorse, as is apparent from the penalty submissions made on his behalf. It is also very apparent that he still does not accept his guilt despite the Committee’s finding on more than a balance of probabilities.

6.  The penalty submissions filed on behalf of the Respondent are based on a detailed “picking apart” of the Committee’s decision and an unwarranted attack on the Racing Integrity Board, even to the extent of  a baseless allegation of a conspiracy between Mr Wadley and Chief Stipendiary Steward for Greyhound Racing, Mr Scott Wallis, “a close friend and work colleague” it was alleged, and the personal integrity of Mr Wadley. We are not impressed by such an acerbic approach.

7.  We have been enjoined by the Respondent, in considering penalty, to take a “cautious approach” and to have regard to “the amount of doubt surrounding the credibility of witnesses, the overwhelming lack of compelling evidence and the element of doubt”. The Committee totally rejects that submission. Neither can we give the Respondent credit for showing any remorse.

8.  We do take from the Respondent’s submissions some matters for which we are able to give him credit by way of mitigating factors, namely – his long involvement in Greyhound Racing in various capacities and a previously unblemished record. We deduce that the offending in this case was quite out of character for the Respondent which. to an extent, is supported by Mr Wallis in his evidence.

9.  Mr Irving has, very helpfully, cited a number of decisions involving similar facts to the present case, in which fines ranged from $250 at the bottom end up to $1,250 at the top. It is noteworthy that, in all of those cases, the Respondent had admitted the charge and the Committee was able to give a discount for that factor.

10. In the case of Grant (as recent as July of this year), the Respondent not only admitted using offensive and insulting language to a Swabbing Official but also he did not dispute the facts or the language used, and displayed genuine remorse at the hearing. The fine in that case was $1,250. Against those factors, the language was more in the nature of a personal attack on an official and one word used, in particular, was held by the Committee to be particularly abhorrent.

11.  Looking at the facts of the Grant case, we find the language used to be more objectionable, and of a more personal nature than the language used in the present case and, further, it was overheard by other licenceholders in the vicinity.

12.  The fine of $1,250 in the Grant case has, clearly, failed to serve as a deterrent, which was an expressed purpose of the Committee in that case. Whilst a lesser penalty than in that case is appropriate in the present case, the fines imposed in the other cases referred to by Mr Irving ($250-$750) are now outdated and of limited assistance, as a greater deterrent element is called for.

13.  Accordingly, the Committee is of the view that penalty in the present case should sit somewhere between the Grant case and the highest of the others – Waretini ($750). The submission of the Respondent that the matter should be “dealt with as a warning” is risible.

14.  The Committee has, on that basis, arrived at a penalty that, we are satisfied, will satisfy the general principles of sentencing which are well-established – to hold the Respondent accountable for his actions, to promote in him a sense of responsibility, to denounce his conduct and, hopefully, to deter him and others from committing the same or a similar offence.

15.  Having considered all of the circumstances, the general principles of sentencing and for the reasons given above, the Committee has arrived at a fine of $850.

CONCLUSIONS:

Mr Scott is fined the sum of $850.

COSTS:

The Respondent is ordered to pay costs to the Racing Integrity Board as follows:

1. The sum of $53.75 being the cost of transcribing the interview with the Respondent; and

2.  The sum of $300.00 by way of a contribution to the costs and expenses of the Adjudicative Committee.

Decision Date: 08/12/2021

Publish Date: 09/11/2021