Westport TC 26 December 2021 – R4 – Scott Lethaby
Westport Trotting Club
Westport Racecourse - 15 Derby Street, Westport, 7825
Penalty: Driver, Mr Lethaby is suspended for 2 months
Summary of Facts:
Following the running of Race 4, the Respondent, Mr S Lethaby, admitted a breach of Rule 869(3)(b) in that he drove carelessly. Mr Lethaby shifted in on the first bend when driving “BELLA BUTTON” when insufficiently clear of HARBOUR QUEEN which then had to be restrained consequently losing its rightful racing position.
The Respondent endorsed the Information ‘I do admit the breach of the Rule’ and confirmed he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge.
Rule 869 (3)(b) provides:
No driver in any race shall drive carelessly.
Using available video footage Stipendiary Steward, Mr Williams identified the horses involved in the incident namely, BELLA BUTTON driven by Mr Lethaby and HARBOUR QUEEN driven by Mr Orange. He said that Mr Lethaby shifted in on the first bend when insufficiently clear which forced HARBOUR QUEEN to be restrained and lose its rightful racing position. As a result HARBOUR QUEEN was forced to race in the third back position.
In explanation the Respondent stated he had thought at the time he had enough room, however, when viewing the films he agreed he misjudged it.
The charge is admitted by the Respondent and is therefore deemed proved.
Submission for Penalty:
Stipendiary Steward, Mr Williams produced the Respondent’s record which indicated a clear record. The Respondent has had 16 drives in the 2021 extended season, 10 drives in the last and 7 the year before that. Mr Lethaby is, accordingly, an infrequent driver.
In mitigation Mr Williams acknowledged that the Respondent freely admitted the breach and has a good driving record. The combination of these things mean that he should be afforded credit when assessing the appropriate penalty.
Mr Williams added that Stewards assessed the breach as low to mid-range. In terms of appropriate penalty Mr Williams submitted that a suspension was appropriate and should be reflected in a period of time given the infrequency in which Mr Lethaby drives. If a fine was considered appropriate Mr Williams submitted a fine of no less than $400.
After considerable discussion the Respondent submitted that his preference would be a suspension but asked that consideration be given to the fact he has two horses currently in work, with one racing.
The Respondent sought a deferment to any proposed suspension.
Reasons for Penalty:
The Penalty Guide provides a penalty starting point of a 10 drive suspension or $500 fine.
After taking into account the submissions of both the Applicant and Respondent; noting the video footages and the consequential impact on the affected runner, the Adjudicative Committee assessed the breach as low and adopted a 10 drive suspension as the starting point.
The Respondent was given credit for his good record and admission of the breach resulting in a two drive reduction from the starting point.
Given the infrequency of Mr Lethaby drives an 8 drive suspension would likely result in a lengthy suspension which would be disproportionate the incident itself. Stepping back and evaluating all of the above factors the Adjudicative Committee determined a suspension of two months to be an appropriate penalty in the circumstances of this case. This sanction is sufficient but no more than what is necessary to achieve its purpose.
The Respondent was suspended for two months.
The Respondent was granted a deferment and his Licence is suspended commencing after the close of racing on 30 December 2021 up to and including 28 February 2022.
Decision Date: 26/12/2021
Publish Date: 28/12/2021