Trial Begins for Fallon, Others in Alleged Fraud Case
Six-time British champion jockey Kieren Fallon, 42, and two other riders were involved in plot to cheat in 27 races, a court in London, England, was told Oct. 8. The prosecution at the Old Bailey alleged there was an agreement not to allow horses to “run on their merits.”
The horses did not always lose as intended, but when they did, a dishonest syndicate made money from the online betting exchange Betfair, the jury of seven women and five men was told.
Fallon, successful on Dylan Thomas in the previous day’s Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), was in the dock to hear the charge of conspiracy to defraud between December 2002 and September 2004 by interfering with the running of horses to ensure they lost races, defrauding Betfair players and others who bet the races.
The six defendants--Fallon, formerly of Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, but now of Tipperary, Ireland, and the two other riders, Fergal Lynch, 29, of Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, and Darren Williams, 29, of Leyburn, North Yorkshire; Lynch’s brother, Shaun Lynch, 37, of Belfast; former racing syndicate director Miles Rodgers, 38, of Silkstone, South Yorkshire; and Philip Sherkle, 42, of Tamworth, Staffordshire--have all pled not guilty. Rodgers is also accused of concealing the proceeds of crime.
Prosecutor Jonathan Caplan told the court: “This case concerns a serious allegation of fraud. It is unusual because it is also concerned with sport, and any allegation of fraud in that context obviously undermines the integrity of the sport in question.
“The prosecution case is that there was an unlawful agreement or conspiracy between these defendants and other persons that those races should be fixed. The defendants in this case did not fix races to ensure a particular horse won. On the contrary, they fixed the races to ensure that the horses in question lost.
“The object of the conspiracy was to wager large amounts of money on a particular horse to lose in each of those races while knowing that the jockey was prepared, if necessary, to cheat by stopping the horse.”
Caplan told the court the betting was organized and conducted by Rodgers, who had numerous accounts in different names with Betfair. “He was the organizer of this conspiracy and was the one who was most involved,” Caplan said. “On race days, Rodgers had direct contact by mobile telephone with Fergal Lynch and Darren Williams.
“Kieren Fallon was more cautious and Rodgers had indirect contact with Fallon using an intermediary, Shaun Lynch, to a lesser extent Fergal Lynch, and latterly, Philip Sherkle.”
Within a short space of time of the calls from the jockeys, Rodgers would bet sizeable sums of money “or lay bets to achieve a small return by comparison,” Caplan said during the court proceeding.
Bets were usually more than £100,000 to gain about £20,000. Others would be some £60,000 to collect about £4,000, he said.
The jury heard that bugged conversations Rodgers had in August 2004 with Feral Lynch, Sherkle, and others would be produced in evidence. An independent Australian racing steward, Ray Murrihy, was asked to watch recordings of races and give his opinion.
“Out of the 27 races, he expressed concerns regarding 13,” Caplan said. “He also says race interference by a jockey is usually very subtle and difficult to detect.”
Though the defendants firmly denied there was a plot, some of the men agreed they had phoned each other for the purpose of passing on tips or betting information.
Caplan said there was no evidence Fallon ever received any money or benefit from Rodgers or anyone else connected with the alleged conspiracy. But it was the prosecution’s case he held himself accountable for losses that cost the conspirators about half a million pounds.
“He would have to earn that money back for the conspirators by stopping horses before he would receive any benefit himself,” Caplan said. “The inference to be drawn is that he was clearly involved for reward.”
Fallon sent a “revealing” series of text messages the day after winning a race that he was supposed to have lost as part of a race-fixing plot, the court heard. Fallon rode Daring Aim, owned by the Queen, to victory in at Newmarket July 23, 2004.
Caplan said there was a “revealing set of text messages” between the jockey and Sherkle the next day. He described it as follows:
At 11:08 a.m., Fallon texted to Sherkle: “Only this phone to use.” One minute later, Fallon wrote: “I will call you when I can.”
At 12:17 p.m., Sherkle texted Fallon: “If u (sic) don't speak to me now I won't be able to help you.” Then, at 12:22 p.m., Fallon replied: “They will take my licences off me if they drift (in the betting) like that last night. They are watching me.”
Ten minutes later he wrote: “I will call you in 10 minutes.”
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