There follows the full result and reasons of the Disciplinary Panel 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).
For ease of reference, a summary of all the charges brought and which individuals were in breach of which charges can be found attached to this release.
1. On 14 January 2013 the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) began a hearing to inquire into allegations of involvement in corrupt behaviour brought against nine individuals by the BHA. The hearing had been scheduled to hear evidence and submissions over 10 days, but in the event the hearing concluded after just 4 days, though written submissions were lodged by some parties following the end of the hearing.
2. These allegations concerned 9 rides by the then apprentice jockey, Andrew Heffernan, between 4 December 2010 and 8 March 2011. A list of the races in question is at attachment A to these Reasons. At the time Heffernan was a 3lb claimer. He eventually rode out his claim in August 2011, when he moved to ride in Australia.
3. The eight others against whom the BHA made its allegations were –
(i) Kelly Inglis – Heffernan’s girlfriend during part of the time covered by the races. She had worked for various trainers during the 5 years until February 2011 as a registered stable employee subject to the Rules of Racing.
(ii) Paul Garner – he had worked for a number of trainers since 1989 and had joined Alan McCabe in November 2010. He was a registered stable employee subject to the Rules of Racing.
(iii) Mark Wilson – he was a footballer with Doncaster Rovers who had become a friend of Garner with whom he regularly discussed racing.
(iv) Rocky Michael Chopra – a footballer with Cardiff City at the time in question, who had a publicised gambling problem. He had frequent contacts with Garner and others about horseracing.
(v) Yogesh Joshee – a football agent who represented Chopra until October 2011.
(vi) Pravin Shingadia – a businessman who had been a friend of Joshee since they were boys.
(vii) James Coppinger – a footballer with Doncaster Rovers, he placed his largest ever bet, a lay bet, against WANCHAI WHISPER on 28 January 2011.
(viii) Douglas Shelley – a businessman who worked for a firm which had owned a couple of horses in 2010 and who said he had sponsored Heffernan.
4. As said, Heffernan, Inglis and Garner were subject to the Rules of Racing, which provide for disciplinary action to be taken against them in respect of their conduct while subject to the Rules, even though they have all since either relinquished a licence (in Heffernan’s case) or ceased to be registered stable employees (in the cases of Inglis and Garner).
5. None of the others against whom allegations were made in this enquiry was ever subject to the Rules (except possibly Shelley during the time of that firm’s ownership of horses – this point was not clarified during the hearing).
Summary of the charges
6. All nine people charged in this enquiry were said to have acted in breach of Rule (A)41.2, which provides that a person who conspires with any other person to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice acts in breach of the Rules of Racing.
7. Heffernan faced two such charges. The first related to 3 races in which he was alleged to have stopped the horse he was riding – race 4 (WANCHAI WHISPER), race 6 (GALLANTRY), and race 8 (SILVER GUEST). The second of the charges under Rule (A)41.2 related to all of the races and was to the effect that he passed to others inside information about his rides (consisting either of indications that he would stop his horses or of some other valuable material) which enabled them to take an improper advantage in lay betting markets. In addition to those conspiracy charges, Heffernan was alleged to be in breach of Rule (A)36.1 by communicating inside information for reward to betting exchange account holders. He was further said to have received or offered to receive bribes from Chopra, Wilson, Garner, Shelley and Joshee, contrary to Rule (A)33.4. Finally, breaches of Rule (B)59.2 were alleged in relation to his rides of WANCHAI WHISPER, GALLANTRY and SILVER GUEST – that he stopped these horses.
8. Inglis was alleged to be part of the conspiracy, and also to have connived with Heffernan over the receiving of bribes. In both cases, the allegation was that she was acting as a go-between to enable information to be passed and money to be received.
9. The other seven individuals were each charged with being party to the conspiracy through exploiting the inside information derived from Heffernan. And all but Coppinger and Shingadia were said to have been involved in paying or offering bribes to Heffernan, and were therefore alleged to be in breach of Rule (A) 33.1.2.
10. Garner faced an additional allegation of breach of Rule (C)64.2.1 because of lay bets placed against two horses trained by Alan McCabe, at whose yard he worked.
11. The BHA’s case was presented at the enquiry by Louis Weston and Rachel Kapila.
Responses to the allegations
12. Before the hearing, Heffernan simply proffered a general denial of all charges in the Schedule (A)6 form which he was obliged to fill out to notify the nature of his case. Through his solicitor, Christopher Stewart-Moore, who represented him at the hearing, he refused to amplify his position before the enquiry began. On the second day of the hearing, Heffernan admitted limited breaches of Rule (A)36. He gave evidence and after the conclusion of the hearing, detailed written submissions were filed on his behalf by Mr Stewart-Moore.
13. Inglis denied the allegations against her. She pointed out that she could not have been involved before February 2011, because it was only then that she re-established contact with Heffernan (with whom she had broken up in August 2010). Her case was that she was guilty of being naive but no more. She came to the enquiry and gave evidence. Much of what she said was relied upon by the BHA has evidence against the other persons charged, because it contained considerable detail about arrangements Heffernan made with the bettors about his rides and about payments to be made to him.
14. Garner denied conspiracy and bribery in his Schedule (A)6 form but admitted placing small lay bets against the two McCabe horses. He did not attend the enquiry.
15. Wilson’s Schedule (A)6 form, prepared with assistance from solicitors engaged by the Professional Footballers Association, argued that he was not subject to the Rules of Racing, and could not therefore be in breach. The BHA, he said, had no jurisdiction over him. In any event, he denied being in breach of the Rules. He did not attend the enquiry.
16. Chopra did not file any answer to the allegations, whether through his Schedule (A)6 form or otherwise. He did not attend the enquiry.
17. Joshee denied any breach of the Rules. He said that the only bet which he placed was the result of information from Chopra, and he denied paying any bribe. He attended the enquiry and gave evidence. Shortly after the hearing closed, he wrote to the BHA and the Panel to reiterate his denial of ever paying a bribe, and to complain that he had been unaware that he could have cross-examined Inglis (who gave specific evidence on this topic). The Panel did not reopen the enquiry, as it took the view that he had had a fair opportunity to do this if he had so wished.
18. Shingadia denied any breach of the Rules, contending that he acted in good faith on a tip from his friend Joshee. And like Joshee, he attended for a couple of hours of the enquiry on the fourth day to give his evidence.
19. Coppinger put forward the same jurisdiction argument as Wilson. He too was assisted by the solicitors engaged by the Professional Footballers Association to put his case in the Schedule (A)6 form. His response on the merits was that he only placed one set of lay bets against WANCHAI WHISPER and that these were placed on the basis of a tip from Wilson. He did not attend the hearing.
20. Shelley denied any breach of the Rules. He did not attend the enquiry but submitted a written statement in addition to his Schedule (A)6 form to explain what he said was the extent of his relationship with Heffernan, to dispute Inglis’s accusations that he had paid Heffernan for tips and in any event said that she only alleged these tips were of potential win bets.
The Panel’s finding’s – overview
21. Before proceeding to set out its findings on the charges made against each of the nine individuals, the Panel sets out some general background matters to assist in understanding the analysis of the case against them.
22. In November 2010, Heffernan was riding out for Alan McCabe. There, he met Garner, an experienced work rider, who began to work for McCabe in that month. Garner’s first job in racing had been in 1989, and he and Heffernan developed a friendship. He was a regular gambler and had set up a tipping service on Facebook.
23. Garner had also formed friendships with some professional footballers. Two of these were Wilson and Chopra. He frequently passed tips to them, including tips about horses that he (Garner) was working with. As Garner’s friendship with Heffernan developed, he was able to communicate information from Heffernan to Chopra and Wilson. There was dispute about the extent to which Heffernan developed direct contact with Chopra and Wilson.
24. A variety of betting exchange accounts was used from time to time by Garner, Wilson and later Chopra to lay horses ridden by Heffernan. Attachment 2 of these reasons contains a summary of the lay betting by Garner, Wilson, Chopra and others in the nine races with which this enquiry was concerned.
25. In addition, the Panel had evidence of phone contacts between persons charged in this enquiry. These were presented in graphic form in timelines. These show for instance an obvious relationship between calls and texts exchanged by Heffernan and Garner on the one hand and calls and texts exchanged between Garner and Wilson on the other hand. Similar patterns were demonstrated for contacts between others. The Panel did not simply have to rely upon inference alone for the content of some of these calls and messages. It had direct evidence from Inglis about exchanges. Some of this evidence was indisputable and utterly damning. For instance, she produced some text messages of February and early March 2011 exchanged between her phone (which she said Heffernan was using in these instances, which he denied) and Chopra’s phone.
26. Inglis was Heffernan’s girlfriend, and they had been in a relationship from about 2006 or 2007 until August 2010 when they parted company. They got back together in about late January 2011 when Inglis moved in with Heffernan at the time she left her employment with the trainer David Evans. Heffernan and Inglis split up finally in May 2011, seemingly acrimoniously. After an attempt to sell her story to the Sun newspaper, she later came to the BHA’s notice. They interviewed her at length in December 2011. Just before those interviews, she had exchanges on Facebook with Heffernan (by then in Australia) and Chopra in which they clearly tried to guide the content of what she might say to the BHA. Chopra was keen to persuade her not to disclose her phone records.
The jurisdiction point
27. Before turning to consider the charges brought against the nine individuals, it is appropriate to deal with the jurisdictional argument presented by Wilson and Coppinger, because, if it is sound, it is of equal application to all the others concerned in this enquiry who were not subject to the Rules of Racing.
28. The jurisdictional argument was to this effect. Persons who are not subject to the Rules of Racing cannot be in breach of them and cannot therefore be subjected to disciplinary action. But it was accepted that under Rule (A)64 the BHA had power to order the exclusion of persons who are not subject to the Rules. The contention therefore appeared to boil down to the assertion that while the BHA had a power to exclude, the Disciplinary Panel did not.
29. The BHA can, of course, decide for itself to exclude a person when it considers their presence on licensed premises to be “undesirable in the interest of racing”. But it can equally decide to refer this question for decision by a Disciplinary Panel, as Rule (A)44 allows. This Panel can understand why the BHA set up an enquiry into the allegations made against the unlicensed people in this case, as they are an integral part of the enquiry into the activities of the licensed people. It follows that there is no reason for this Panel to refuse to consider the allegations made against Wilson and Coppinger (who both took this jurisdiction point), or against the other unlicensed people.
30. Just before he gave evidence on the second day of the hearing, Heffernan changed his position from one of complete denial of all the charges to some limited admissions of breaches of Rule (A)36. He said through Mr Stewart-Moore that he had passed inside information for reward to Inglis about his rides on SILVER GUEST and on GALLANTRY, and found out later that that information was transmitted to and used by Chopra for lay betting purposes. He said that Inglis told him that he is was to be paid £2000 for this information (or perhaps £2000 for each bit of information – his evidence was not entirely clear). He admitted passing inside information generally to Garner about his rides knowing that it would be used to gain an advantage in lay betting markets. Thus, this new case entailed the story that Inglis was the organiser of a corrupt passing of information. He alleged that she was having an affair at this time with Chopra.
31. This change of position meant that Heffernan’s earlier complete denials of any wrongdoing, both in interviews with the BHA and in his Schedule (A)6 form, were untrue. He gave evidence before the Panel in a thoroughly unconvincing manner. There was, it is true, an element of cunning in the construction of his new line of defence, but there were many improbabilities and absurdities in his version of events. The Panel concluded, having seen him give evidence and quite apart from its assessment of the reliability of Inglis’s evidence, that Heffernan was a generally untruthful witness.
32. An important ingredient leading to this conclusion was the evidence about telephone usage and records. There was no reasoned rebuttal of the evidence of the BHA expert analyst John Gardner who concluded that in early January 2011, Heffernan began using a new mobile phone with a number ending 1174. The basis for his convincing conclusion was that people such as Inglis, Chopra and Garner, who were accustomed until that time to call and receive calls from Heffernan’s mobile number registered with the BHA, ending with the numbers 1676, suddenly began using the 1174 number and receiving calls from it. Heffernan simply denied that the 1174 number was anything to do with him. Further, he failed to produce records for his number ending 1676 for the period from 4 January to 9 February 2011. Those records that he did produce for that number show marks of having been edited. For instance, it is clear that Heffernan suppressed the record of traffic on the 1676 number for the period from 8 to 12 March 2011, an important period. The 1174 number was never registered with the BHA and the Panel concluded that he acquired it for use at this time for corrupt contacts.
33. When asked by the BHA Investigator Tim Miller to get confirmation from his service provider BT O2 that the 1676 number had indeed been suspended during the period from 4 January to 9 February 2011, there followed months of evasion. The BHA was eventually supplied by Heffernan’s brother Christopher with a copy of a supposed e-mail from BT O2 confirming that the 1676 number was disconnected between 17 January and 30 March 2011 – quite different dates. The Panel was sure that this was a false document which did not emanate from BT O2 at all. It was a crude scissors and paste job. While it was not possible for the Panel to say precisely who concocted this, Heffernan’s reliance upon it in his evidence and refusal to confront its plain absurdities was still further reason to treat him as a wholly unreliable witness.
34. Another telephone related reason for disbelieving Heffernan concerns his evidence about whether he used Inglis’s mobile phone. He denied doing this. Yet the damning text messages exchanged between that phone and Chopra’s phone were plainly written by Heffernan or in some cases typed out on his behalf by Inglis. The wording of these exchanges leaves no room to doubt that. Thus –
a. Heffernan was the jockey on IT’S A MANS WORLD which raced on 8 March 2011.
b. On 7 March 2011 at 10.33pm Chopra sent a text to Inglis’ mobile phone saying “Waiting for him to get back fancy doing its a mans world will get the money in ur account first thing”
c. At 11.06pm Heffernan replied: “if it’s all in my brothers account by 9.30 in the morning then yes and how much will be getting put in the account??”
d. Reply from Chopra – “2k pal in there by 930”
e. Reply from Heffernan – “What that’s for the previous or tomorrows?”
f. Reply from Chopra “And will owe u another 2k by the week end pal when I get the other from winnings”
g. Reply from Heffernan – “Ok well I will ring tomorrow morning then jobs on details hsbc Martin Heffernan sort code 40-47-06 account number zzzzzzzz ? ” [an actual account number was given but has been edited out by the Panel]
h. Reply from Chopra – “mate don’t go telling anyone about this pal as the price will be shit and we went win our money wat we hav give u”
i. Reply from Heffernan – “I won’t say anything mate as long the money is in and it’s 2k we are grand lad?
j. Reply from Chopra at 11.43pm – “will call u b4 9 trying to get some money from big hitters in Scotland”
k. Text from Heffernan at 09.13am on 8 March 2011- “is the money in?”
l. Reply from Chopra – “not yet pal banks just opened ill deffo sort it for you is martain going racing with u”
m. Reply from Heffernan at 09.53am – “no Kelly is tho Martin staying at home lad what time bank open up?”
35. The idea that those messages were written by Inglis is nonsense. There were further texts in that sequence which show that Chopra was unable to organise payment of the full £2000; in the event just £800 was paid into Martin Heffernan’s account.
36. Heffernan’s evidence that he did not know Chopra (and Chopra’s evidence to the same effect) and that he did not know Wilson was another lie, which was demonstrated without need to rely upon Inglis’s testimony. It was demonstrated not only by the texts quoted above but by the many calls exchanged between Chopra phones and the 1174 number of which Heffernan falsely denied knowledge. In fact, Chopra even occasionally called Heffernan on the 1676 number. Heffernan’s evidence that he was in fact trying to speak with Inglis on this number because he was having a secret affair with her demonstrated the ridiculous lengths to which he was driven to continue to maintain the lie that he did not know of or speak with Chopra. If he was having such an affair, why on earth would he be phoning the man she was living with?
37. Just as telling in this regard was the fact that Heffernan’s 1676 number sometimes participated in conference calls involving sometimes Chopra, sometimes Wilson, whom he also denied knowing.
38. So even before the evidence of Inglis was brought into account and even before Heffernan’s rides in the three alleged stopping races were evaluated, the Panel was left with a complete mistrust of Heffernan’s evidence and of his truthfulness.
39. In contrast to Heffernan, Inglis was an impressive witness who confronted head-on the difficulties in her account when they were put to her. That said, the Panel nevertheless approached her evidence with caution because she admitted having attempted to sell her story to a newspaper and having made some false allegations against Heffernan on Facebook, because she was bitter, she said, about the end of her relationship with Heffernan. But despite that caution, the Panel came to the conclusion that the account she gave in interview by the BHA, in a statement given to the Gambling Commission, and in live evidence to the Panel was to be preferred to Heffernan’s version of events. When considering what she said, it needed to be remembered that she was not part of Heffernan’s life during the period covered by the first three races under investigation, so that what she had to say about Heffernan’s relations with Garner, Wilson and Chopra had to have come from Heffernan himself.
40. Her evidence, which the Panel accepted, included –
(i) That Heffernan passed inside information to Garner and Chopra and through Garner to Wilson.
(ii) That Heffernan used multiple phones, including hers.
(iii) That Heffernan agreed to stop WANCHAI WHISPER for Garner and Wilson and in fact tried to do so, but was thwarted by the use of a visor for the first time on the horse. He told her that he could have won the race had he tried.
(iv) That Heffernan had agreed to stop SILVER GUEST, and had discussed this from the time he got the ride. He told her that he would escape detection because the horse had died shortly after the race.
(v) That Heffernan had used her mobile phone to communicate with Chopra, including by the texts already referred to. She said that Heffernan would not in fact have stopped IT’S A MAN’S WORLD even if the contemplated £2000 had been put up by Chopra, because he was using that conversation to try to extract the outstanding £2000 for having previously stopped SILVER GUEST.
(vi) That Heffernan had received a payoff – she thought £500 – from Joshee in a service station around the time of the SILVER GUEST race.
(vii) That Heffernan was paid cash outside a pub in London by a man whom she did not know during their visit to the city around the time of St Valentine’s Day 2011.
(viii) That Heffernan agreed to take money from Garner and Wilson.
(ix) That Heffernan provided tips to and received payment from Shelley in the form of cars and cash.
41. Heffernan’s conduct in each of the three alleged stopping races showed that he was prepared to “honour” a promise to stop his rides where needed. The Panel’s findings about these races and the breaches of Rule (B)59.2 alleged were as follows.
(i) Race 4 – WANCHAI WHISPER
42. This 4 year-old mare went off the 9/2 third favourite in this 5 furlong handicap at Lingfield. She was a little agitated in the starting stalls, threw her head to the left and fly jumped when the gate opened. The Panel was not able to say one way or the other whether Heffernan was seeking to cause this awkward start.
43. At all events, he exercised restraint while at the back of the field from the 3 furlong to the 2 furlong marker at a time when the likely contenders were making their efforts and increasing their lead over the mare. From the 2 furlong marker, the mare largely pulled herself into the race. There was no active push whatsoever from Heffernan until the last half furlong. When coming into the straight with 1½ furlongs to run, there was always an ample gap available but Heffernan did nothing whatsoever to push her forward into it. He had made his effort too late to catch the winner, but steady progress against the other runners took him to an eventual 2nd place. It was difficult to disagree with the pointed analysis in the Racing Post –
“…with a first-time visor replacing the cheekpieces, raced at the back of the field after missing the break and her rider seemed at pains not to get after her until the last possible moment. Still on the bridle passing the furlong pole, she quickened up when finally coming under pressure but it was only good enough to claim 2nd place.”
44. Heffernan’s explanation in evidence was that he always rode the horse that way, and he said that an earlier ride of his on the mare in January 2010 would back that up. A recording of that race was obtained and it showed a completely different style and strength of riding by Heffernan. He gave a strong hands and heels ride and used the whip 7 times. Although on that occasion he encountered interference in running, he rode with maximum effort from 1 1/2 out and got up to win. This recording confirmed the BHA’s case and not Heffernan’s.
45. The Panel was left in no doubt that his performance was an intentional failure to ride WANCHAI WHISPER on the merits. Though the plan had been to finish out of the places, Heffernan was unable to avoid finishing second without attracting unwanted attention, and the place lay bets of Wilson, Garner and Coppinger were lost. As already recorded, Heffernan attributed that result to the effect of the visor. He confirmed in evidence that he had not known that the horse would be wearing a visor until he entered the paddock.
(ii) Race 6 – GALLANTRY
46. In this 7 furlong class 4 handicap at Kempton Park, Heffernan restrained his mount at the outset and was soon detached in the last pair. This was despite his instructions which he remembered to be to “jump right away and see how he’s going as he’s going well at the moment”.
47. As the gelding approached the start of the first bend, it changed legs neatly. Shortly afterwards, Heffernan was seen to take two long looks down as if something was wrong. The gelding lost pace and became further detached. No effort was made to seek to recover the ground lost. There was no active or forceful riding until he had reached the intersection in the straight, by which stage the effort made was too late to make any difference.
48. After the race, Heffernan reported at scales that GALLANTRY had lost his action. When asked at the hearing to identify when this occurred on the recordings, Heffernan chose a moment shortly after the gelding had changed legs. The Panel saw no sign of loss of action. If anything untoward had really happened, a jockey’s duty is either to pull up or to attempt to get back into the race. The trainer, Jane Chapple-Hyam, gave unchallenged evidence in a statement that having reviewed the race, the gelding appeared to be moving properly and nothing was reported to have been wrong with the gelding’s tack.
49. The Panel recognised that a jockey is in principle in a better position to judge what is happening to his mount than those seeking to read the race from the recordings. But given the betting evidence (see attachment 2), given the evidence of contacts revealed by the timeline involving Garner, Wilson Chopra and Heffernan, and given Inglis’s evidence, as well as the features of the ride already referred to, it was concluded that this too was an intentional stopping ride. Heffernan looks down as if something had gone wrong and his later report of a loss of action at scales were not genuine but were designed to give him a colourable excuse for the loss of further ground around the bend that put the gelding out of any contention.
(iii) Race 8 – SILVER GUEST
50. This race was a 10 furlong claimer at Lingfield. SILVER GUEST went off as the 6/1 3rd favourite. The trainer Ralph Smith said that his instructions were to hold the gelding up and creep into the race. The owner Henry Bulteel was also at Lingfield and confirmed, in an unchallenged statement, that he was present when instructions were given and there was nothing in them that could justify becoming detached at the back of the field.
51. But that is just what Heffernan did. He exercised strong restraint from the start to anchor SILVER GUEST at the rear of the field, and gradually became detached from it. From the 4 furlong to 2 furlong markers, the pace of the leaders picked up but Heffernan did nothing to maintain position. During cross-examination he accepted that between the 3 furlong and 2 furlong markers, he let the gelding find its own way. He did not provide any impetus to push the gelding forward until entering the straight – that is with about 1 1/2 furlongs to go. By this stage the gelding was out of contention.
52. SILVER GUEST finished 9th of 9. As he was being taken up the chute from the racetrack back up towards the paddock, SILVER GUEST showed signs of distress. Heffernan dismounted quickly as asked, but the gelding collapsed and died of a ruptured artery.
53. Naturally, the Panel considered hard whether this post race event might have had any bearing on Heffernan’s conduct and on the gelding’s performance during the race. So far as Heffernan was concerned, he was unaware of any impending problem during the race. So far as the gelding’s performance was concerned, nothing adverse was seen on the available recordings other than a shortening of stride and slowing down in the last few yards of the race.
54. Therefore, the gelding’s unfortunate death, even so soon after the end of the race, did not provide any justification for the ride which Heffernan gave it, nor did it explain how the horse performed except for the very end of the race.
55. Heffernan suggested that this ride was a misjudgement on his part. The Panel of course recognised that apprentices can misjudge races. But there was a wealth of evidence from the circumstances of the race as well as the evidence of communications and betting to indicate that this was no misjudgement and that Heffernan was intentionally riding to ensure that SILVER GUEST finished unplaced.
56. The size of the lay bets, all in the place market, which are described in attachment 2, really tell their own story about the level of confidence of the bettors. When the evidence about communication, both direct and indirect, between Heffernan and those who took the risks on those accounts is brought to mind, the real position becomes even more obvious. Wilson had an established line of communication with Heffernan via Garner, and occasional direct communication with him. Joshee had a line of communication through Chopra. Indeed, it appeared that Heffernan and Joshee were in direct contact with each other through the mechanism of a conference call with Chopra beginning at 4.59pm on the day before the race.
57. This race was one of the two occasions covered by Heffernan’s admission just before he gave evidence to the effect that he passed inside information to Inglis which he knew would be used for lay betting by a then unknown person. He was driven to this partial and untruthful admission because of the story he invented about the text messages between Chopra and Inglis’s phone. These showed an attempt to collect payment for Heffernan’s efforts in respect of SILVER GUEST. Heffernan sought to suggest that he gave only general information to the effect that the gelding was unlikely to stay 10 furlongs. The real position is of course that he was seeking payment for having agreed to and having stopped the horse. Inglis’s evidence, which the Panel has recorded above to be accepted, that Heffernan told Inglis that he should get away with it because the gelding died, and that Heffernan told her that he received a payoff from Joshee in a service station, served to reinforce the conclusions reached.
58. The Panel therefore concluded that Heffernan was in breach of Rule (B)58.1 in the sense described in Rule (B)59.2 for his rides on each of WANCHAI WHISPER, GALLANTRY and SILVER GUEST. It equally followed that he was in breach of Rule (A)41.2 as alleged in the first of the Topics for Inquiry, because his rides on those occasions were a performance by him of his part of the pact.
The other allegations of breach against Heffernan
59. The allegation of involvement in a conspiracy contrary to Rule (A)41.2 made in the second of the Topics for Inquiry was likewise made good for the most part. This allegation covered all the nine races, and the BHA’s case was that Heffernan gave inside information consisting (i) of an indication that he would stop those horses in their races if necessary, but (ii) if he did not give that indication, he at least provided inside information helpful for lay betting purposes.
60. For 5 of the 6 the races other than WANCHAI WHISPER, GALLANTRY and SILVER GUEST, the Panel concluded that the lay bettors had the comfort and assurance of indications from Heffernan that he would stop his mounts if need be. The one race for which the Panel was not prepared to reach that conclusion was race 3 – CROCODILE BAY (IRE). This was because in this race the lay bets, which were all in the place market, were all lost. CROCODILE BAY (IRE) finished second. The Panel did not see any recordings of this race, but the descriptions given in the Racing Post report of the result indicate that this may have been a ride by Heffernan which could not be criticised. In the absence of some further explanation, it would not be safe to treat this instance as one where he promised to lose if necessary. In the other instances, though, the Panel decided that it was safe to decide that Heffernan was giving lay bettors the comfort of an indication that he was prepared to ride to lose. He was certainly doing that in the case of the three races where he actually did it, so he clearly had no moral objection to such conduct. In the case of IT’S A MAN’S WORLD, he was plainly indicating that he was prepared to stop the gelding if necessary if paid the right price, even if, as Inglis said, he would not have done so. That was what was said in his text exchanges with Chopra when he was using Inglis’s phone.
61. These conclusions make it unnecessary, strictly, to consider the BHA’s alternative formulation of this second allegation of conspiracy, to the effect that Heffernan was giving the lay bettors the comfort of inside information which did not include a promise to stop the horses. The Panel was persuaded that he would have provided such information in all instances, because in all instances, as he accepted, he did have inside information to provide. He had either ridden the horses in question on previous occasions or had information about them from trainers and other inside sources, as he effectively accepted in cross-examination. He admitted (late in the day) supplying such information to Garner. He supplied it also to others of the lay bettors: they took it into account when deciding that these rides of Heffernan’s were worth laying.
62. It was contended on Heffernan’s behalf that communicating information of this kind could not found the conspiracy charge alleged, because it is not a corrupt or fraudulent practice. The same or a similar point has been argued in a number of corruption cases that have come before Disciplinary Panels in recent years. It was argued unsuccessfully in cases such as Winston and Fitzpatrick in 2006 and in the case of Dean McKeown in 2008. It was further argued unsuccessfully before the Appeal Board in McKeown. The point failed again when the McKeown case was taken to the High Court.
63. The Panel in this case likewise decided that the point was bad, for the same reasons as given in those previous cases.
64. The third charge in the Topics for Inquiry – breach of Rule (A)36.1 – was made out for reasons already given. The communication of inside information by Heffernan was more extensive than he admitted, and it is clear that he received reward for this both in the specific ways identified by Inglis and, no doubt, in ways that he has continued to conceal successfully.
65. The remaining charge (numbered 4 in the Topics for Inquiry) is of breach of Rule (A)33.4. Heffernan did receive bribes in the form of payments from Chopra, Garner, Wilson, Joshee and Shelley as already identified above. He offered to receive a bribe from Chopra for his impending ride of IT’S A MAN’S WORLD. He received a bribe from whoever handed him an envelope of money outside a London pub on about St Valentine’s Day 2011.
66. For reasons already given, the Panel found Inglis to be a generally impressive and truthful witness. Her evidence has been an important ingredient of the case against others. But that does not absolve her from responsibility for her own actions.
67. She allowed her phone to be used by Heffernan for the purposes of race fixing, and her bank account was used to receive reward for the provision of inside information. She was active as a route for communication between Heffernan and Chopra in particular amongst the conspirators. She was content to enjoy some of the fruits of Heffernan’s corruption.
68. There was no hint that she was pressured into any of this behaviour and no indication that she ever tried to stop Heffernan from behaving as he was. On the contrary, she seems to have advised him as to how he would do better if he insisted on payment up front: that is what she said during her Facebook exchange with Furnass in November 2011, which came to the notice of the BHA and which triggered the interview of her.
69. Hence, it is not possible to dismiss Inglis’s conduct as merely incidental or as providing unknowing assistance to Heffernan. She was engaged as part of the conspiracy from the time she returned to live with Heffernan at about the end of January 2011.
70. As for the second charge she faced – that she connived with Heffernan to receive or arrange bribes from Chopra, Wilson, Garner, Shelley, Joshee and unknown persons – the Panel concluded that this was made out in the cases of Chopra only. She helped to receive money from Chopra by letting her bank account be used, and by letting her phone be used to discuss a payment for stopping IT’S A MAN’S WORLD. But the payments (and benefits like cars) coming in from others were effectively arranged by Heffernan on his own. It is not clear that she did anything more than sit in the car with Heffernan while he drove to a pub in London to collect a payoff from an unknown person.
71. Garner did not attend the enquiry and provided no substantive answer to the case made against him.
72. He admitted the breaches of Rule (C)64.2.1 alleged – concerning lay bets he placed against horses trained by Alan McCabe, for whom he was a registered stable employee.
73. As for the conspiracy allegation, the Panel accepted that that was clearly made out against Garner. He was involved from the outset of the nine races in getting inside information from Heffernan both for his own lay betting purposes and for transmitting it to Wilson and Chopra for their lay betting. Heffernan’s limited admission of passing inside information to Garner for reward counts against Garner himself as does, more importantly, the evidence of Inglis which the Panel has accepted. She said that Heffernan was in daily contact with Garner at the time when she returned to live with him. She referred, for instance, to one occasion when Heffernan was in the bath and took a call from Garner, which he later explained to her was a request from Garner to stop WANCHAI WHISPER. Heffernan told her that Wilson would pay for this and Garner would take a cut.
74. The timelines show a consistent pattern of communication between Heffernan and Garner and then Garner and Wilson. There was even a conference call between the three of them on the day before the MUJAPISTE (IRE) race. There was a similar pattern of communication between Garner and Chopra, who admitted in interview that he received daily tips from Garner. He even said that he allowed Chopra to use his Betfair account from time to time.
75. Garner’s betting shows that he made many of his largest bets on the races in issue in this enquiry. He had access to accounts in the names of his mother and father – see attachment 2.
76. As for the allegation of breach of Rule (A)33.1.2 – that he offered a bribe to Heffernan – this too was found to be proved on the basis of Inglis’s evidence about the request to stop WANCHAI WHISPER and the payment for this.
77. The Panel accepted that Wilson was actively engaged in the conspiracy from the outset. The pattern of communication between Heffernan and Garner on the one hand and then Garner and Wilson on the other shown by the timelines is sufficiently striking to demonstrate that there was inside information from Heffernan being transferred to Wilson. Wilson denied ever having met with or spoken to Heffernan. That was at least in part untrue. On the day before the race of MUJAPISTE (IRE), he took part in a conference call with Garner and Heffernan. And on 9 December 2010, there were again overlapping calls that may have been conference calls.
78. Not even Heffernan contended that Inglis was colluding with Wilson or Garner. Yet she had no basis for knowing about Wilson or for knowing about promises of money from Wilson for inside information other than from Heffernan. Thus she learned from Heffernan that Wilson was going to pay him for stopping WANCHAI WHISPER.
79. The picture of Wilson’s involvement in the conspiracy became clearer still from the betting evidence. This is summarised in attachment 2. His Betfair account was opened on 21 September 2010 and closed on 9 February 2011. Of its 33 bets in that period, 4 of its 5 largest liabilities were on Heffernan rides, as were the 2 largest back bets. The first 13 bets placed on the account were not on Heffernan rides. Thereafter, the account followed him closely with 10 of the remaining 23 bets being on Heffernan rides. There was a pattern of loading the account with funds to allow substantial lay bets against GALLANTRY, SILVER GUEST, WANCHAI WHISPER, and HIGH KICKIN. From time to time, he would chase out the price which indicated an informed degree of confidence. It was further noted that Wilson in fact attempted from time to time to gamble much more on his lay bets against Heffernan rides than he was able to get on. He had unmatched bets of £22,000 for HIGH KICKIN and £14,000 for WANCHAI WHISPER – these would have been huge percentages of the available market if matched and again indicated a degree of confidence that can only have come from the corrupt information derived from Heffernan.
80. Wilson was therefore a conspirator, and he was further engaged in offering a bribe to Heffernan through Garner to stop WANCHAI WHISPER.
Rocky Michael Chopra
81. It was plain beyond doubt to the Panel that Chopra was fully engaged in the conspiracy. He did not attend the enquiry or even send in some indication of his defence in writing. Thus, his only contribution was in the interviews he gave to the BHA Investigators.
82. Much of what he said in those interviews consisted of lies. His denial of knowing Heffernan or of ever speaking to him was exposed as utterly untrue. He made many calls to Heffernan’s 1174 number, which no doubt both he and Heffernan thought was safe from detection. He made calls to his landline and to Inglis’s phone in an attempt to communicate with Heffernan. If further confirmation were needed, it comes from the damning series of texts between Chopra and Heffernan using Inglis’s phone. There was an earlier run of texts (other than those already set out in this decision) which clearly show that Inglis’s evidence that she and Heffernan met with Chopra in a Cardiff nightclub was true.
83. The sequence of texts which has been set out in the paragraphs considering the case against Heffernan showed beyond argument that Chopra was trying to get Heffernan to stop IT’S A MAN’S WORLD for a bribe of £2000, of which he was only able to raise £800. Those texts indicate that he was also a essential part of the earlier arrangement for the stopping of SILVER GUEST.
84. He told the BHA Investigators that he decided to lay SILVER GUEST because he overheard a couple of people he did not know in a branch of Ladbrokes in Cardiff saying that they did not think it would win. That may seem a comical explanation, but it was a lie nevertheless, as the texts and a wealth of other evidence show.
85. So not only was Chopra engaged in the conspiracy, but the allegation that he offered bribes to Heffernan was also made good.
86. Joshee’s horserace betting was historically infrequent. Yet he nevertheless decided to risk almost £4000 when laying SILVER GUEST. This was a 29 times higher risk than his next highest liability. He placed £4000 into his Betfair account on the day before the race to enable this betting. He further recruited Shingardia for the same purpose, who used his Betfair account and opened a Betdaq account to participate.
87. When he came to place lay bets, Joshee was prepared to take prices in the place markets between 2.06 and 3.1, again an indication of unusual confidence.
88. His explanation for this conduct was that he had been given a tip by Chopra. Chopra rang him and told him that the gelding would not win. He said he did not ask any questions of Chopra because he was annoyed with him: Chopra was a high overhead client who exposed him to calls at night time from his (Chopra’s) debtors. He knew that Chopra had a bad gambling problem. His story was that he refused Chopra’s request to put money on for him, put the phone down, but felt at the back of his mind that maybe Chopra knew that the horse was sick or in poor form. So he decided to bet with his own money and to recruit Shingadia.
89. That version of events struck the Panel as quite implausible even on its face.
90. There were, however, a number of matters which demonstrated that it was clearly a false account.
91. Joshee admitted that he told a lie about Shingadia having been present at his house to make the bets that were placed on Shingadia’s accounts. It was a lie that he and Shingadia had agreed to tell before they were interviewed. There was no honest reason for telling such a lie if the story of a bone fide tip from Chopra was true, so the Panel approached Joshee’s evidence with great caution.
92. The evidence of telephone contacts represented in the timelines completely contradicted Joshee’s version. It showed not just one but many calls with Chopra, which is wholly at variance with the notion that he put the phone down quickly on a tiresome client who was a problem gambler. Even more significantly, Joshee participated in a conference call with Heffernan whom he had denied ever knowing or speaking with, during the afternoon of 8 February 2011. The Panel was persuaded that the purpose of this was to give Joshee direct comfort from Heffernan about his intentions for the ride on SILVER GUEST the next day. Unsurprisingly, Joshee was not prepared to rely solely upon the word of Chopra whom he knew to be unreliable.
93. Further, Joshee told the Panel that he placed the lay bets in the place market against SILVER GUEST because that seemed to have more attractive prices for a layer than the win market. In other words, he said that he did not know the difference between the place and win markets. That was flatly contradicted by others among the few horse betting transactions on his account. It was a frankly incredible account. He put it forward to seek to explain why a tip from Chopra that the gelding would not win should have caused him to put lay bets in the place market.
94. In the circumstances, the Panel felt compelled to reject his evidence, to conclude that he was part of the conspiracy for the SILVER GUEST race, and further to accept the truth of what Inglis was told by Heffernan, namely that Joshee had paid him for his work when they met at a service station.
95. Hence, both allegations against Joshee were found to have been made out.
96. Shingadia had hardly ever been involved in horse racing or in betting on it. Prior to February 2011, his Betfair account had placed just 9 bets on football and cricket, with a largest liability risk of £54. Yet for the SILVER GUEST race, he risked over £2000 in the place lay market. And he opened a Betdaq account solely for the purpose of further lay betting against SILVER GUEST, in which he deposited £2000, of which he was able to stake a further £1763 in the place market.
97. His explanation for this was that Joshee had phoned him to tell him that he had had a tip. Joshee did not reveal his source but “sounded confident”. Shingadia was told, he said, the name of the horse, the time of the race and that it was a lay bet because it was not going to win.
98. Like Joshee, his response to questions about why his lay bets were in the place market when the tip was simply that the horse would not win, was to say that he was unaware of the difference between the two markets also. Again like Joshee, he told a planned lie to BHA Investigators about being at Joshee’s house to place the bets on his two betting exchange accounts. In fact, the bets placed on Shingadia’s accounts were executed by Joshee, to whom Shingadia had given the necessary account information.
99. While Shingadia gave evidence in a disarming way, the Panel nevertheless concluded that his account was incredible. The notion that he would risk his money (which he did) on horseracing bets of unparalleled size for him on the basis of an unverified and undiscussed tip could not be accepted. It was no real answer to this for Shingadia to say that he sometimes took positions of similar size in financial markets. The true position is that he knew full well from Joshee (who knew from Chopra and directly from Heffernan) that the jockey was prepared to stop SILVER GUEST.
100. Coppinger faced just one allegation in the enquiry – of engagement in the conspiracy through his lay bets against WANCHAI WHISPER.
101. He opened a Betfair account in December 2010. Its largest bet was a lay against WANCHAI WHISPER of £1295, having tried but failed to match a total of £2000. The only other horseracing bets which were placed in this account came a few days later in February 2011 where the risks taken were £100 and £310 the account showed 7 back bets on football with a higher state of £20.
102. So the lay betting in relation to WANCHAI WHISPER was exceptional and required explanation. Coppinger said in interview that he received a tip from Wilson (with whom he played Doncaster Rovers), after he had “probably… spoke[n] to him at training maybe”.
103. There was no detail provided by Coppinger or Wilson of the nature of that tip. A bet that was so far off the scale to which Coppinger was accustomed required more explanation, particularly given that he told BHA investigators that he had a complete lack of interest in racing.
104. The telephone records show an almost frantic series of attempts by Coppinger to contact Wilson the before and after the race. There were 21 calls attempted in the space of 33 minutes. That is not consistent with a casual tip. This was out of character bet for Coppinger.
105. These matters persuaded the Panel that Coppinger was in fact aware from Wilson that the jockey Heffernan had agreed to stop the horse, and that he was implicated in the conspiracy in the manner alleged by the BHA.
106. Shelley was alleged to be part of the conspiracy because of his lay bets against GALLANTRY, where he risked £10,012 to win £3,850. This was one of the largest liabilities ever undertaken on his account.
107. Shelley had a Betfair account which had a tendency to lay horses from yards where Heffernan was riding work. Of the lay bets on the account 6 out of 16 were on horses trained by McCabe or Guest, where Heffernan was riding. He was also a frequent backer of horses ridden by Heffernan.
108. Heffernan and Shelley both accepted that they knew each other. Indeed it was their case that Shelley had agreed to sponsor Heffernan, after Heffernan had ridden a winner for Shelley. The agreement was said to be that Heffernan would become Shelley’s retained rider, and implausible concept when Shelley or the firm he worked for had just 2 horses and Heffernan was a 3lb claimer. The agreement was never reduced to writing or registered with the BHA, and there was real discrepancy about the benefits to be provided to Heffernan under it. Shelley said that he gave Heffernan a BMW. Heffernan and Inglis both said that Heffernan had a succession of 3 cars from Shelley – a Ford, then a Seat, and then a Mini: apparently cars driven by Heffernan had a tendency to break down.
109. Evidence of contacts between Shelley and Heffernan was incomplete because Heffernan had concealed his phone records covering the period of the GALLANTRY race and because Shelley refused to disclose his. But that which is available showed 99 contacts between them in the period from November 2010 to March 2011.
110. The coincidence that Shelley had one of his heaviest bets, his lay bet against GALLANTRY, which was one of those where Heffernan deliberately failed to ride the horse on its merits, was too striking. The Panel had also the evidence from Inglis that Shelley gave Heffernan not just the cars but also money from time to time.
111. In all the circumstances, the Panel concluded that that bet was the product of corrupt information provided to Shelley by Heffernan, just as he had provided similar information to Garner.
Notes to editors:
1. the Panel for the enquiry was: Tim Charlton QC (Chair), Hopper Cavendish, Didi Powles.