On 25th January 2013 the Disciplinary Panel of the BHA published the result and penalties from its hearing regarding former licensed jockey Andrew Heffernan and eight unlicensed individuals (Rocky Michael Chopra, James Coppinger, Paul Garner, Kelly Inglis, Yogesh Joshee, Douglas Shelley, Pravin Shingadia and Mark Wilson).
The breaches found and penalties imposed by the Disciplinary Panel can be found in the notes for editors.
The Disciplinary Panel have today published their written reasons for the penalties imposed, which are as follows:
1. The Panel first considered the appropriate penalties for the breaches of Rule (B)58.1. These were (in each of the three instances) breaches of the kind described in Rule (B)59.2 – deliberate failures to ride his horses on their merits.
2. The Guide to Procedures and Penalties prescribes a penalty range of 5-25 years with an entry point of 8 years. The Panel approached Heffernan’s case as justifying a global approach rather than individual penalties for the three breaches because they were part of a concerted course of conduct. It was said on his behalf that his youth was a mitigating factor, that he was beginning to develop a promising career in Australia, and that “he has truly learnt from [his] mistake”. None of these points was persuasive. He had been in racing long enough to know that stopping horses is one of the worst things a jockey can do. There was no hint that he was pressured or misled into participating in the conspiracy pursuant to which he stopped those horses. There was absolutely no sign of remorse or of recognition that he had acted improperly: on the contrary he chose at the hearing to put forward a newly concocted story that tried to shift the major part of the blame for some damning text messages onto his former girlfriend, Kelly Inglis. More broadly, he indulged throughout the investigation and enquiry in wholesale concealments of his wrongdoing.
3. The Panel decided to apply a composite penalty for these breaches, as they were part of a course of conduct. A disqualification of 15 years was imposed from 25 January 2013 until 24 January 2028 inclusive.
4. When considering the related breaches of Rule (A)41.2, the Panel first recognised that it could and should go beyond the upper penalty range, which is given in the Guide as between 6 months and 10 years with an entry point of 3 years. The reason for this was that Heffernan’s participation in the conspiracies involved the stopping rides already referred to. Equally, it was recognised that there was some logic to imposing a penalty longer than the 15 years disqualification for the stopping rides, to reflect those cases where Heffernan was passing inside information but did not in fact need to ride to lose. However, it was decided to leave the penalty for this breach at a disqualification of 15 years, essentially because, after such a long period, it was felt that an application for a new licence could properly be left for the decision of a Licensing Committee. The Committee would have to determine whether, after that period, he had become a fit and proper person to hold a licence. Without seeking to control the exercise of discretion by such a Committee, this Panel envisages as a minimum that Heffernan should at that stage show a genuine appreciation of the extent of his wrongdoing.
5. The penalties of 15 years disqualification for the breaches of Rule (B)58.1 and of Rule (A)41.2 are to run concurrently.
6. The Panel did not impose any separate penalties for the breaches of Rule (A)36 or of Rule (A)33 because these were viewed as part and parcel of the conspiracies found.
7. Her case was a difficult one. The Panel’s Reasons record that she was a generally impressive and truthful witness. Her evidence played an important part in exposing the detail of the wrongdoing of Heffernan and others. Perhaps it was this which persuaded the BHA to submit that she should have substantial credit for her cooperation and admissions. It was said that the penalty indicated in the Guide for a breach of Rule (A)42 might be thought appropriate. An entry point penalty of a 6-month disqualification is given.
8. However, the Panel did not feel it could take this course. She had been a participant in the conspiracy from January 2011. She profited from it. In the Panel’s view this merited in principle a disqualification of 5 years. This was reduced to an eventual penalty of 4 years, from 25 January 2013 until 24 January 2017 inclusive, because she did cooperate from the time of her interview by BHA Investigators. This reduction would have been greater if she had not spent some time after her split from Heffernan in trying to sell her story to newspapers.
9. No separate penalty was imposed in relation to the breach of Rule (A)33, as this was part and parcel of her participation in the conspiracy.
10. Of the main gamblers involved in the conspiracy, Mr Garner was perhaps the most important figure, despite his non-existent profile in the enquiry. He was a guiding figure when introducing Heffernan to the footballers. He was involved over the same length of time as Heffernan. Given the seriousness of Heffernan’s conduct and Mr Garner’s involvement in betting against the Heffernan rides which were the subject of this enquiry, the Panel determined that Mr Garner should be disqualified for 12 years. No separate penalty was imposed in relation to his breach of Rule (A)33 for the same reasons given earlier: that breach was part and parcel of his involvement in the conspiracy.
11. However, a separate penalty was called for in relation to his breach of Rule (C)64.2.1, and a disqualification of 6 months was imposed. This was reduced from the entry point penalty of 18 months disqualification because of the size and timing of the bets. That penalty of 6 months disqualification runs consecutively after the main 12 years disqualification for the conspiracy from 25 January 2013 until 24 July 2025.
12. Mr Wilson also counted as one of the most involved of the gamblers in the conspiracy. His role did, however, fall somewhat below that of Mr Garner. In the circumstances the Panel decided to impose an exclusion of 10 years from 25 January 2013 until 24 January 2023 inclusive, and again no separate penalty was imposed in respect of the breach of Rule (A)33 for the same reason as has been given in the other cases.
Rocky Michael Chopra
13. Again, as the reasons for the decision recount, Mr Chopra was fully engaged in the conspiracy. His involvement was judged to be comparable to that of Mr Wilson. Hence, the Panel imposed an exclusion of 10 years against him from 25 January 2013 until 24 January 2023 inclusive, while again imposing no separate penalty for the breach of Rule (A)33.
14. Mr Shelley counted as an important participant in the conspiracy because of the extent of his contacts with Heffernan and the nature of his betting in relation to one of the horses that Heffernan stopped. It was decided to impose an exclusion upon him of 8 years from 25 January 2013 until 24 January 2021 inclusive.
15. Once again, for reasons already given, no separate penalty was imposed in relation to the Rule (A)33 breach.
16. Though involved to a lesser extent than the gamblers already referred to, Mr Joshee’s involvement was nevertheless a material one. Before penalty was decided upon, Mr Joshee sent a short communication to the Panel essentially denying his involvement. But the Panel found otherwise, as the reasons set out.
17. It was decided to be appropriate to impose an exclusion upon him of 5 years from 25 January 2013 until 24 January 2018 inclusive, and not to impose any separate penalty in relation to the Rule (A)33 breach as this was, as before, part and parcel of his participation in the conspiracy for the SILVER GUEST race.
18. Mr Shingardia was brought into the conspiracy by Mr Joshee, but had a role that fell somewhat below that of his friend in terms of its importance. Therefore, he was excluded for a period of 3 years from 25 January 2013 until 24 January 2016 inclusive.
19. Mr Coppinger was involved in the conspiracy in relation to just one of the races, and as the Reasons recite was a more marginal figure than
Mr Wilson, Mr Chopra and others. For that reason, the Panel imposed an exclusion of just 3 years from 25 January 2013 until 24 January 2016 inclusive.
20. One of the witnesses who was due to give evidence at the enquiry was Kevin Prendergast, a former licensed trainer. His presence for cross-examination was requested by Mr C Stewart-Moore on behalf of Heffernan. He failed to appear. Shortly before the enquiry began, when he was notified that he was likely to have to attend, he wrote to announce that he withdrew the contents of his statement entirely.
21. Though Prendergast has now relinquished his licence, he remained subject to the obligation to attend if required, and liable to penalty for refusing to do so. The Panel considered at one stage that it would be appropriate to give notice to Prendergast to show cause why he should not be disqualified for this behaviour. However, it was decided in the end not to do this. For one thing, Mr Stewart-Moore did not persist in his application to cross examine Prendergast in the light of the latter’s absence. And it was felt preferable to leave this matter for consideration by any Licensing Committee which may in the future have to consider the grant of a new licence to Prendergast if he applies for one.