Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Decision dated 11 September 2023 – Nicole Lloyd
Penalty: Trainer Nicole Lloyd is fined $900
1.1 The Racing Integrity Board charged Ms Lloyd with a breach of Rule 340 of the Rules of Racing.
1.2 Information A15764 Alleges that; On the 12th of August 2023, at the Racecourse Hotel, Riccarton, Nicole Lloyd, Class B Trainer, did misconduct herself by assaulting Harness Trainers, Cheree Wigg and Alan Edge. This behaviour being in breach of Rule 340 and subject to the general penalties set down in 803(1) of the Rules of Racing.
1.3 Rule 340 provides that: “A Licensed Person, Owner, Lessee, Racing Manager, Official or other person bound by these Rules must not misconduct himself in any matter relating to the conduct of Races or racing.”
1.4 On the 25th of August, Ms Lloyd endorsed the Information confirming that she admitted the breach and advised that she agreed for the hearing to proceed on the papers.
2.1 The RIB presented a Summary of Facts, a summary in relation to the circumstances of the incident are as follows:
1. On the 12th of August 2023, the Grand National took place at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch. Both Ms Lloyd and the victims in this matter had been in attendance.
2. At approximately 5pm Ms Lloyd visited the Racecourse Hotel. She was extremely intoxicated.
3. At approximately 5.30 pm Ms Wigg and Mr Edge also frequented the hotel. They had also been consuming alcohol.
4. At approximately 6.30 pm all parties were on the dance floor; a friend of Ms Lloyd’s approached Mr Edge suggesting his behaviour was inappropriate.
5. Ms Lloyd saw this interaction and approached her friend and Mr Edge, simultaneously Ms Wigg approached. Ms Lloyd turned to Ms Wigg and pushed her with some force, causing her to impact against the wall. Both parties fell to the floor, grabbing each other’s hair. They were separated by security staff.
6. Once the parties were separated Mr Edge engaged verbally with Ms Lloyd. This angered her again and she punched Mr Edge forcefully with a closed fist to the side of his head. The force of this punch caused Mr Edge to fall to the floor.
7. All parties were escorted from the hotel by security staff.
8. Ms Lloyd has no previous history with the RIB and is extremely remorseful for her actions. She advised her behaviour was out of character and due to the unfortunate circumstances, accompanied with excess consumption of alcohol.
9. Ms Lloyd has been cooperative with the investigation. Once made aware the incident was in breach of the RIB Code of Conduct, she regretfully resigned from her position of Swabbing Steward.
3.1 Ms Lloyd has admitted the charge, therefore it is found proved.
4.1 Rule 803 (1)
A person who commits or is deemed to have committed a breach of these rules or any of them for which a penalty is not provided elsewhere in the rules shall be liable to:
- Be disqualified for a period not exceeding 12 months; and /or
- Be suspended from holding or obtaining a licence for a period not exceeding 12 months. If a licence is renewed during a period of suspension, then the suspension shall continue to apply to the renewed licence; and /or
- A fine not exceeding $20,000
5. SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY
Summary of RIB Submissions
5.1 PENALTY: Purpose and Principles
1. The penalties which may be imposed are fully detailed in the Charge Rule and Penalty Provisions document.
2. The principles of sentencing relevant to this charge 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 Committee for the type of offending in question.
- The need to rehabilitate the offender should be considered.
5.2 RIB’s Position as to Penalty
1. The penalty sought in this case is a monetary one with a starting point of $1500.
2. A condition of holding a Licence issued by NZTR is that the Holder must be “of good character” and this, in a general sense, is covered by the Rules in which a Licence Holder must not misconduct himself in relation to Racing.
5.3 Comparable Cases
RIU V P RUDKIN & RIU V D CROZIER – 2016
These Trainers were involved in a physical altercation at Ashburton Racing Club following an argument over stalls. Twice the parties exchanged punches, witnessed by other Licence Holders. One party received a chipped tooth and the other a black eye.
In the Decision, the Committee noted: –
“it is totally unacceptable for two experienced and respected Trainers to engage in fighting in attempting to resolve what was essentially a trivial matter. Such behaviour is detrimental to the image of Thoroughbred Racing, and it was fortunate the incidents were not more public”.
“Misconduct can take any one of a number of forms. However, in assessing the level of seriousness of Misconduct, any physical violence must be considered as being serious Misconduct”.
A period of disqualification was considered, but due to the significant hardship this may cause other persons, particularly owners and staff, it was not applied.
Mr Rudkin and Mr Crozier were fined $2000.
RIU V C RAUHIHI – 2019
Mr Rauhihi was charged with Misconduct for punching Mr Georgetti in the face at the Levin jump outs. The strike caused a cut and bruising. Mr Rauhihi was arrested and charged by the police for the assault.
In its Decision, the Adjudicative Committee stated that: –
“Misconduct under Rule 340 can encompass an infinite variety of behaviour. It is clearly designed to protect the interest of all who are involved in the racing industry, and those who maybe in any way involved in racing matters. It goes as wide as the community at large which may be harmed by misconduct under the rules by licence holders, officials etc. It is designed also to protect and enhance the reputation and credibility of thoroughbred racing in the eyes of the public and community. If there is misconduct this reputation is harmed.”
Mr Rauhihi was ordered to pay a fine of $1300.
RIU V J BENNER – 2023
Mr Benner was charged with Misconduct under Rule 340 for swearing on several occasions at the RIB Veterinary Surgeon and Investigator, while acting in an official capacity. He had received two previous warnings for Misconduct.
In the Decision, the Adjudicative Committee noted: –
“Being a Licence Holder is a privilege and not a right. Licence Holders cannot take matters into their own hands”.
Mr Benner was fined $1500.
RIB V MOSELEY – 2023
Mr Moseley was charged with Misconduct under Rule 340, for physical assaulting fellow Trainer Karen Buttimore.
In similarity to the current situation, there was some suggestion that Mr Moseley had been somewhat provoked by Ms Buttimore.
In response to this, the Adjudicative Committee stated:-
“…some references , or suggestions of past differences and implies a criticism of Ms Buttimore. The Adjudicative Committee is not able to accept that any criticism of her – even if it were correct – in any way justified the use of force. Nor does it minimise its seriousness of such use, in any form, by a Licence Holder to another Licensee”.
Mr Moseley was fined $1500.
5.4 MITIGATING FACTORS
1. The RIB acknowledges Ms Lloyd has admitted the charge at the earliest opportunity and expressed remorse for her actions.
2. The RIB also acknowledges that Ms Lloyd has resigned from her position of Swabbing Steward for the RIB.
5.5 AGGRAVATING FACTORS
1. The behaviour demonstrated is detrimental to the reputation of Thoroughbred Racing and any acts of physical violence must be denounced and considered as Misconduct.
1. This case is similar in nature to that of RIU V Rauhihi and RIU V Rudkin & Crozier in that a physical assault took place, which resulted in Mr Edge and Ms Wigg being knocked to the ground. In RIB V Benner, the altercations were purely verbal and in RIB V Moseley, the assault was minor in nature. However, Ms Lloyd has already suffered the loss of her job and has an otherwise clean history. The RIB acknowledges this behaviour is out of character for Ms Lloyd and is unlikely to be repeated.
2. The RIB submits the penalty in this case should be a fine with a starting point of $1500. This gives the Adjudicative Committee the discretion to consider the aggravating and mitigating factors which are present in this case.
5.7 Respondent (N Lloyd) submissions
(some submissions have been omitted due to relevance or sensitivity/privacy reasons)
1. I have had a Thoroughbred Trainer’s Licence for 19 years and over that time have only received 2 warnings – for a gear offence and failing to notify a rider by the prescribed time.
2. I have admitted this breach at the earliest opportunity.
3. I have fully co-operated with the RIB Investigators in regards to this incident.
4. As stated in the RIB Summary of Facts I reacted under provocation from Ms Wigg and Mr Edge who were at least as intoxicated as myself (I disagree with the assertion that I was “extremely” intoxicated on that night).
5. As a result of this incident, I resigned my job as a Swabbing Steward with the RIB, a role that I was thoroughly enjoying and obtaining more shifts by the week. It would now seem that I am being punished twice for the same incident.
6. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the Penalty for A Waretini dated 11 July 2023 where she assaulted Mr M Grant on a racecourse with no provocation, resulting in some injury to Mr Grant, and was fined $400. My breach involved severe provocation, on a place other that a racecourse where no parties had been involved in racing activities on the day, and resulted in no injuries to any party. I would respectfully suggest that my breach is certainly no worse than that of Ms Waretini on that occasion.
7. In view of the losses I have already suffered as a result of this incident, I feel that any fine be a low amount, or if possible, be a suspended penalty only payable if I was to re-offend.
5.8 References of character were also provided to the Adjudicative Committee for consideration.
6.1 Ms Lloyd is fined $900.
7. REASONS FOR PENALTY
7.1 Application for a Class B Trainers Licence requires the participant (N Lloyd) to acknowledge and accept that they are bound to comply with not only the Rules of Racing but the NZTR Code of Conduct. The status and application of the Code of Conduct, is as follows:
This Code of Conduct (Code) is a directive made and issued under the Rules of Racing (Rules) and forms part of the Rules. Accordingly, it applies to and is binding on all persons to whom the Rules apply (each a Person). A breach of this Code by a Person constitutes a breach of the Rules (and may also constitute a breach of a specific Rule) and may result in proceedings being commenced against that Person, and a penalty being imposed on them, under the Rules. In the case of a Person who is a Licenceholder, a breach of this Code may also result in their licence being reviewed under the Rules. Terms used in this Code and defined in the Rules have the meaning given to them in the Rules. This Code applies to Conduct by a Person in all environments, including in person and online, and replaces all previous Codes of Conduct adopted by NZTR.
7.2 Specifically, in this case, the Code of Conduct has been breached as a result of Ms Lloyd’s behaviour, which could be categorised as… “Inappropriate…. Aggressive or Threatening behaviour…”
7.3 It is evident to the Adjudicative Committee that the actions from Ms Lloyd are out of character and are likely the result of excess alcohol consumption, combined with some level of provocation and extenuating circumstances in regard to the relationship between Ms Lloyd and the victims. Ms Lloyd outlined within her penalty submissions, some context as to why her behaviour may have escalated to the level of physical altercation and the Adjudicative Committee has given that due consideration.
7.4 Ultimately, it is the participant’s personal responsibility to maintain the standards expected from a License Holder at all times, it is clear that on this occasion, Ms Lloyd has breached those standards.
7.5 The RIB Summary of Facts indicated that Ms Lloyd was very remorseful of her actions. Ms Lloyd’s own submissions don’t necessarily support that view, however the Adjudicative Committee is cognisant of the fact that Ms Lloyd no longer has a role as a Swabbing Steward and this is likely to have caused her some distress as well as financial disadvantage.
7.6 The Adjudicative Committee has given consideration to Ms Lloyd’s submission on penalty, in comparing her breach with that of A Waretini 11 July 2023. In the view of the Adjudicative Committee, the breach of Ms Waretini bears little resemblance to the breach in this case, and prefers to consider the breach of Mosely 2023, as having more relevance in relation to the circumstance of the incident.
7.7 Having considered the Incident and Penalty Submissions from the Informant and Respondent, the Adjudicative Committee has determined an appropriate starting point to be $1500. This starting point reflects the fact that this incident involved a physical assault. There were de-escalation options available to Ms Lloyd on the evening that the incident took place, instead she reacted.
7.8 There are several factors of mitigation that require considering.
It is clear that there was a level of provocation during the night in question, which likely led to a heightened/elevated response from Ms Lloyd, this factor was raised by Ms Lloyd and to the Adjudicative Committee’s knowledge, wasn’t disputed by the RIB. Ms Lloyd frankly admitted the breach and has an outstanding record in regard to any charges in a racing context over a period of 19 years. As a result of the charge, Ms Lloyd has resigned from her position of a Swabbing Steward, which will cause a level of financial distress.
7.9 Having balanced the mitigating factors against the starting point, the Adjudicative Committee believes an appropriate penalty to be $900.
7.10 Accordingly, Ms Lloyd is fined $900.
8.1 Although this matter was dealt with ‘on the papers’, and although some costs have been incurred by the RIB (Adjudicative Committee), on this occasion, they are waived.
Decision Date: 10/09/2023
Publish Date: 12/09/2023