Racing Post report by Martin Kelly FALLON CASE THROWN OUT
Martin Kelly reports for the Racing Post "FALLON CASE THROWN OUT"
SIX-TIME champion jockey Kieren Fallon's race-fixing trial collapsed at the Old Bailey today.
Fallon and five other men were acquitted by an Old Bailey jury on the directions of trial judge Mr Justice Forbes. He said there was no case to answer following defence submissions at the end of two months of prosecution evidence.
Now Fallon is set to get back in the saddle in big races in Britain following a 17-month suspension imposed after his arrest.
Fallon always denied involvement and his barrister asked the judge: "You have to consider how much it would cost to buy Kieren Fallon."
Fallon, fellow jockeys Fergal Lynch and Darren Williams, gambler and businessman Miles Rodgers and two other men had been accused of plotting to throw races. But the "fatal flaw" in the £6million case was that no one was able to prove the jockeys had interfered with horses.
The only expert witness called was Australian racing steward Ray Murrihy, who admitted he was not an expert on British horseracing. The case against the men was that they were trying to break Jockey Club rule 157 by stopping horses racing on their merits. But Mr Murrihy said he was not familiar with the rules in the UK, was only giving his opinion on the riding and could not say what the outcome of a stewards' inquiry would have been.
The jury also heard that Fallon had a higher win-rate in the races he was allegedly meant to throw than his average. City of London police, who had been asked to investigate by the Jockey Club, came under constant criticism throughout the case. It emerged that the then Commissioner of the force had approached a director of the Jockey Club - now the British Horseracing Authority - about more funding for the inquiry, which is thought to have cost around £3million. And it also emerged that the main detective in the case had been offered a job with the BHA's investigation unit. The prosecution said there was no evidence that Fallon profited from the alleged scam. He was said to have ended up owing a betting syndicate money.
The accused were said to have plotted to stop 27 horses winning between December 2002 and August 2004, thereby defrauding Betfair internet customers and other punters. The prosecution said large amounts of money had been bet on the horses losing after a series of phone calls and text messages involving the jockeys. Fallon was said to have ridden in 17 of the allegedly fixed races and won five of them - a higher win rate than his normal average. The betting syndicate run by Rodgers was said to have wagered£2.1million on horses to lose, making between £60,000 and £143,000. But Fallon was alleged to have owed the syndicate's backers £338,000 by winning the five races.
Fallon, 42, formerly of Newmarket but now of Tipperary, Ireland, Lynch, 29, of Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, and Williams, 29, of Leyburn, North Yorkshire, Lynch's driver brother Shaun Lynch, 38, of Belfast, gambler and businessman Rodgers, 38, of Silkstone, South Yorkshire, and barman Philip Sherkle, 42, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, were all cleared on the directions of the judge. Rodgers was also found not guilty of concealing the proceeds of crime. All the defendants were on bail.
Fallon's QC, John Kelsey-Fry, had asked the judge to throw out the case against him because the prosecution had failed to "come close" to making a case against the jockey. He said the races which Fallon lost yielded only small returns for alleged plotters - in one case just £3,000. He said: "There is simply no case to answer. None of the strands of evidence individually or collectively amount to a case to answer. "
The evidence presented by the prosecution when properly analysed has demonstrated that Kieren Fallon was not a party to a conspiracy to defraud."
**For the inside track on the trial, plus David Ashforth's verdict, buy tomorrow's Racing Post