Suppressions in place on harness racing prosecutions

Wide-ranging suppressions apply to appearances by harness racing figures who were called before the Christchurch District Court today on charges including race fixing and drugs.

Judge Raoul Neave refused suppressions for five of the group of nine whose cases have been dealt with at an all-day hearing.

However, he realistically continued suppression orders to October 9 so that those refused suppression can file appeal papers with the High Court. The suppression will continue until those appeals are heard.

Because the defendants sought suppression of name, identifying details, and details of the charges, the appeals will block publication of those charge details as well for several of them. The charges can only be reported in general terms.

All members of the group were remanded on bail for appearances on October 2. In the meantime they can receive disclosure and legal advice, and they may enter pleas on that date.

Seven had sought interim name suppression during a series of appearances that took up the whole morning at a special court sitting. Judge Neave gave his decision two hours later.

Three other defendants appeared in Christchurch District Court last week and have been remanded to different dates.

Judge Neave decided today that bail conditions banning the group from racecourses were not necessary because they were covered by orders imposed by the Racing Integrity Unit. He imposed the non-association orders with co-defendants sought by the Crown, but said that issue might be reconsidered later.

Those charged:

Name suppression was not sought for Andrew Douglas Stuart, 41, of Loburn, who was remanded without plea to October 2. Bail was granted.

Defence counsel Chris McVeigh QC said pleas would be entered on October 2. He indicated charges would be strenuously denied.

Prosecutor Barnaby Hawes asked for bail conditions for Stuart to live at a particular residence, surrender his passport, and not to contact or associate with some named persons.

The prosecution sought a condition not go on to any racecourse during a race meeting which had a betting licence, but Judge Raoul Neave said the exclusion clause was covered by the Racing Integrity Unit’s notice. The prosecution did not pursue that order, but the issue may be reopened later.

Stuart appeared on three race fixing charges, relating to meetings at Rangiora, Addington, and Palmerston North this year.

Nigel Raymond McGrath, a 44-year-old horse trainer, was due to appear today but had been previously given a remand by a registrar without appearing in court. He is charged with fixing a race at Addington this year. He did not seek any suppression.

A 40-year-old Canterbury man appeared on two drugs charges and three allegations of race fixing. Defence counsel Jonathan Eaton QC said the charges would be “strenuously denied”. The man was refused suppression but interim suppression continues until the appeal is heard.

A Christchurch man was charged with one race fixing charge. Some suppression was granted, but he also has interim name suppression until the appeal hearing.

A North Canterbury man, aged 35, faces one race fixing charge. He was refused suppression but it will continue until the appeal is heard.

A 50-year-old North Canterbury man was refused suppression on one race fixing charge but it will continue until the appeal hearing.

Two others facing two drugs charges were granted interim name suppression. One is charged with selling the class C drug n-ethylpentylone, and the other is charged with offering to supply the class B drug ecstasy. Suppression does not apply to the charges in their case because they are not part of the appeal.

A 26-year-old Canterbury man charged with obtaining by deception and drugs charges was granted interim name suppression to make an appeal to the High Court against the refusal of name suppression in the District Court. His bail has conditions that he not attend horse racing meetings, trials, or work-outs.

Judge Neave was highly critical of the police for giving a briefing to media ahead of the court appearances.

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