Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Reserved Penalty Decision dated 21 March 2023 – Alysha Waretini
Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024
Addington Raceway, Christchurch
Penalty: Licensed Handler, Alysha Waretini is fined $500
At the meeting of Christchurch GRC held at Addington Raceway on 13 June 2022, an Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, David Wadley, against Licensed Handler, Alysha Waretini, alleging that she failed to comply with the lawful order of a Steward after being requested to wear a face mask in the Kennel Block.
The Information was served on the Respondent on the race day and was heard at Addington Raceway on 8 March 2023.
The Respondent was present at the hearing and she indicated that she denied the breach.
The then Rule 62.1 provided:
Any person (including an Official) commits an offence if he/she:
(p) disobeys or fails to comply with the lawful order of a Steward or other Person having Official duties in relation to Greyhound Racing.
Evidence of David Wadley, Stipendiary Steward
1. The Respondent in this matter, Alysha Waretini, is the holder of a Kennel Hand Licence issued by Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ).
2. She handles Greyhounds on race day for GRNZ Trainer, Lisa Waretini.
3. On Monday 13 June 2022, Ms Waretini was in attendance at the Christchurch GRC meeting at Addington Raceway.
4. Some GRNZ COVID protocols from their policy remained in place, which included that all persons in the Kennel Block at a race meeting must wear a face mask.
5. Ms Waretini was not wearing a face mask when sighted in the Kennel Block by Steward, David Wadley, at approximately 12.00pm.
6. She was spoken to about this, and being late to retrieve her dog, and she complied by putting her mask on.
7. A few races later, Ms Waretini was again observed by Mr Wadley without a mask on in the Kennel Block.
8. Mr Wadley asked Ms Waretini if she had an exemption, to which she replied “No”.
9. He requested her to please put a mask on and, when she refused, he reinforced that he was giving her a directive to put one on.
10. Again, Ms Waretini refused, and stated to Mr Wadley that he was racist and that he was picking on the only brown-skin coloured person in this room, and that he was picking on her.
11. Mr Wadley replied that he was not racist and again requested she put a mask on.
12. Ms Waretini continued by yelling out that, once she loses her licence, she’s going to the media to tell them that we are all racist in the RIB.
13. She continued not to wear a mask for another few races and was again spoken to by Mr Wadley, who reminded her again that it was a requirement under the policy.
14. Around Race 10, Tony Music, Chief Executive Officer of Christchurch GRC and Mr Wadley took Ms Waretini aside in the harness stable area and Mr Wadley advised her that Stewards would scratch the remainder of her dogs, as she could not be in the kennelling area without a mask in breach of the policy.
15. Ms Waretini finally complied, but was advised that she was to be charged for failing to follow a directive earlier. She later signed the Information and verbally admitted the charge.
16. Mr Irving said that he had the recordings of two interviews with the Respondent on the raceday. The transcript of each of those interviews was accepted by the Respondent as a true and correct record.
17. Mr Irving then referred to the COVID protocols that were in place at that time. It was optional to wear a mask outdoors, but there was a directive in place that masks must be worn inside the Kennel Block. The Respondent had breached that requirement on several occasions during that day. She put a mask on at one stage, indicating that she had one with her. It was eventually conveyed to her that, if she refused to wear a mask, her remaining dogs would be scratched. She did then wear a mask but, by then, the offence of failing to comply with Mr Wadley’s directive had been committed.
18. The issuing of the directive was recorded in one of the interviews. Mr Wadley had shown the Respondent the Information charging the Respondent with failing to comply with the lawful order of a Steward
David: We’re gonna issue you with two charges today, two of failing a directive so we’re gonna head down that line. First, for not wearing a mask, when you refused to wear a mask. That’s still if you maintain you’re not gonna wear a mask in the kennelling area. Are you gonna wear a mask in the kennelling area?
David: You’re gonna wear one now?
David: That’s good, Alysha.
19. Mr Irving submitted that the directive or order by Mr Wadley was clearly lawful as, although COVID requirements had been relaxed, it was still an ongoing concern in the community and the requirement to wear a mask in the kennelling area needed to be enforced for health reasons.
Submissions of the Respondent
20. The Respondent said that she did not agree with the charge. When she was warned at Race 1 for being late, it was still 8 minutes before the start time of the race. Mr Wadley approached her and said she would be charged in relation to that. That was when she had received her first warning about a mask. She put the mask on immediately Mr Wadley asked her to.
21. Later in the day, she was in the Kennel Block to put a plaster on a cut on her hand. Mr Wadley approached her there, she submitted, in a “quite aggressive manner”. He asked her again to put her mask on to which she said she would after she had put the plaster on. She put it to Mr Wadley that others in the area were not wearing masks, but he replied he was not concerned about them. She then left the area.
22. After that incident, she did not wear a mask as she was so upset about the way she had been spoken to by Mr Wadley, until Mr Music spoke to her later in the day and calmed her down. He told her that Stewards intended to scratch her dogs if she continued to not wear a mask. She decided that she would wear a mask.
23. Mr Irving asked the Respondent if she had been charged with presenting her dog late for Race 1. She replied that she had only received a warning. She was told to put a mask on, and did so. She had not worn her mask because she had rushed from having her lunch at Spectators Bar, which was late being served. She did not believe that the warning was reasonable, but Mr Wadley had been reasonable about asking her to put a mask on.
24. Mr Wadley had not issued her with a warning when she was in the Kennel Block putting a plaster on her cut hand. She admitted that she had been “a bit defiant” because of the manner in which Mr Wadley had approached her. She was aware of the requirement to wear a mask in the Kennel Block.
25. She acknowledged that she had failed to comply with Mr Wadley’s lawful order, rather than disobeying. She did so because of the manner in which Mr Wadley spoke to her which she described as “workplace bullying”.
26. In response to a question from the Adjudicative Committee, the Respondent accepted that she had received a “lawful order”. She explained that, at a race meeting she is always so busy that the last thing she thinks about is to put a mask on. There are so many other things to think about.
27. Mr Irving put it to the Respondent that Mr Wadley’s motives were driven by the fact that there was a nasty virus in the community, so there were health concerns in play.
The charge was found proved.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
28. The Respondent has been charged that, at the meeting of Christchurch GRC held at Addington Raceway on 13 June 2022, she failed to comply with or disobeyed a “lawful order” of Stipendiary Steward, David Wadley, to wear a face mask. At that time, there were protocols in place necessitated by the COVID pandemic in the community. One such protocol was the requirement for persons to wear a face mask in the Kennel Block area. The Respondent was aware of that requirement.
29. She had been spoken to by Mr Wadley very early in the day and was asked to put a mask on. The Respondent complied. However, later in the day she was again spoken to by Mr Wadley for not wearing a mask. On this occasion, the Respondent refused and was given a “directive”, or “lawful order” by Mr Wadley to put on a face mask. She did not do so, she claimed, as she resented the manner in which she had been spoken to by Mr Wadley, and believed that she was being picked on by him.
30. The Respondent eventually complied, under threat of her remaining Greyhounds being scratched by Stewards. She duly complied. An Information was subsequently filed and served.
31. The first element of the charge that needs to be shown is that a Stipendiary Steward has given a lawful order. This was clearly established and, in fact, the Respondent acknowledged that. The order was lawful in that Mr Wadley was ordering the Respondent, in his capacity as a Stipendiary Steward, to comply with a COVID protocol that was in force and of which the Respondent was aware.
32. The second essential element of the charge is that the Respondent has disobeyed or failed to comply with that lawful order. Again, this has been clearly established. The Respondent has admitted that, for several races after being given the lawful order by Mr Wadley, she had not worn a face mask in protest, she maintained, at the way that she was spoken to Mr Wadley. More than that, she felt that she was being victimised by Mr Wadley.
33. Unfortunately, the Respondent adduced no independent evidence to support her stance and, in any event, even had she been able to present proof, that would not have detracted from the fact that the essential elements of the charge had been proved. Mr Wadley, in his evidence, denied the allegations against him. The Adjudicative Committee found Mr Wadley’s evidence to be credible.
34. Mr Irving referred to the most recent charge under Rule 62.1(p) – RIU v S (September 2019) in which a Licensed Owner / Trainer refused to leave the Stewards’ Room, despite having been given a lawful order to do so. That was deemed to be a second offence by the Judicial Committee and a fine of $400 was imposed. The earlier case of RIU v M (2014) was referred to in that decision. In that case, a Trainer had failed to comply with a lawful order to attend the Stewards’ Room and was fined $300.
35. Mr Irving submitted that the offending in the present case is more serious than either of the two earlier cases in that there were public safety considerations involved. COVID was still very real in the community and there were Government regulations in place as well as protocols for Greyhound Racing. A greater penalty by way of fine than in the earlier cases should be imposed for that reason. His submission by way of an appropriate fine was one of $750.
36. The Respondent declined to make any submissions relating to penalty.
REASONS FOR PENALTY:
37. The Penalty Rule is rule 63.1 which provides as follows:
Any person found guilty of an Offence under these Rules shall be liable to:
(a) a fine not exceeding $10,000.00 for any one (1) Offence except a luring/baiting Offence under Rule 86; and/or
(b) Suspension; and/or
(c) Disqualification: and/or
(d) Warning Off.
38. Rule 11.3 of the Rules of Racing of the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association sets out the “Powers of Stewards”. Those powers are wide-ranging and the Stewards must be left to carry out those functions at the race meeting without interference or hindrance from Licenceholders.
39. Rule 62.1 (p) provides that it is an offence to disobey or fail to comply with the lawful order of a Steward and the Respondent has been charged with a breach of that Rule in failing to comply with the lawful order of Mr Wadley, Stipendiary Steward, to wear a face mask in the Kennel Block area. On the evidence, the Adjudicative Committee was satisfied that is was a wilful refusal on her part, having been asked, and finally ordered, to put on a face mask. The Adjudicative Committee was clearly satisfied that the Respondent has committed a breach of the Rule by her behaviour on this occasion.
40. The first previous case under the present Rule 62.1(p) that has been referred to the Adjudicative Committee is the case of RIU v M (2014). In that case, a Licensed Handler was issued a lawful order at 2.20pm to attend the Stewards’ Room in relation to a possible breach of the Rules, was directed again at 3.20pm, with the Handler eventually arriving in the Stewards’ Room at 4.15pm, some 55 minutes after the running of the last race. He was fined the sum of $300.
41. The other previous case, RIU v S, involved an Owner / Trainer refusing to leave the Stewards’ Room, having been given a lawful order by a Steward to do so. That was deemed to be a second offence, and the Respondent was fined $400.
42. Although it could be said that the facts of the M and S cases and the present case are quite different, each one involved a Licenceholder wilfully disobeying or failing to comply with a lawful order of a Steward.
43. The Adjudicative Committee has taken the penalty in the McInerney case, a $300 fine, as a starting point for penalty in this case. The Respondent receives no discount for admitting the breach but, of course, that is not an aggravating factor. Her apparent lack of remorse is, likewise, not an aggravating factor but, rather, is the lack of a mitigating factor. There are no mitigating factors. The Adjudicative Committee received no submissions concerning the Respondent’s previous record.
44. The starting point is uplifted for the factor that the Respondent’s refusal to wear a face mask was in breach of COVID protocols in place at that time and thereby exposed herself and, more significantly, other persons attending the race meeting at risk to the COVID virus. The uplift is $200.
45. The Adjudicative Committee believes that the fine will serve:-
(1) to hold the Respondent accountable;
(2) to promote in her a sense of responsibility;
(3) to denounce her conduct; and
(4) to deter her or other persons from committing the same or a similar offence.
46. The Respondent is fined the sum of $500.
47. There will be no order as to costs.
Decision Date: 21/03/2023
Publish Date: 23/03/2023