GRNZ Seek Harsher Penalty For “Punchy” President

In stark contrast to the GRV’s pathetic handling of Jason Thompson’s alleged assault in the aftermath of the Mlebourne Cup, Greyhound Racing New Zealand has appealed a three-month disqualification handed down to a former Auckland Greyhound Racing Club President over his assault on a trainer.

The code’s ruling body wanted Geoff Farrell banned for 12 months over his attack at a race meeting last October when he allegedly took offence at Waiuku trainer Steve Mann’s behaviour, knocked him into a flower bed, jumped on top of him, and unleashed a barrage of blows to his head.

Mann received swelling and bruising to his face and head and later sought medical attention after suffering dizzy spells and headaches.

Farrell, who is due to appear in court next month on an assault charge, became upset after his wife Glennis complained Mann had threatened and abused her. Mann was grief- stricken when his dog Watch That Whale had to be put down after breaking a hock in an earlier race, an injury he blamed on the state of the track.

Farrell allegedly sought out Mann, found him in the car park, and attacked him, knocking aside assistant steward Keith Coppins in the process.

He later faced charges of assault on an official and misconduct, but judicial committee chairman Eddie Doherty decided that while a clear message had to be sent to the industry that the behaviour would not be tolerated, there were significant mitigating factors :

  • Farrell had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity
  • It was his first offence and he had made a considerable contribution to the industry
  • He acted under considerable provocation and with genuine concern for his wife
  • He faced severe financial difficulty from losing his job, his presidency of the club, and faced criminal charges

Ironically, in a hearing in Auckland last Wednesday, Mann, the victim of the assault, effectively received a bigger penalty.

Mann, facing a misconduct charge, was disqualified for three months from February 1 – but would have received a longer sentence had the committee not taken into account he had already effectively served two months after being warned off by GRNZ.

When first interviewed last October, Mann admitted he “may have used bad language” out on the track, but denied threatening or directing obscenities at Mrs Farrell in the kennel block.

Last Wednesday he admitted to a charge of misconduct, over his general behaviour on the day. A letter of complaint was tabled from Waiuku trainer Carol Derecourt, who had tried to calm Mann down out on the track, detailing abuse and obscenities he directed at her.

And the committee heard how Coppins had stepped between Mann and Glennis Farrell in the kennel block and ordered Mann out.

Racecourse inspector Rod Carmichael said it was accepted Mann became upset and agitated by the loss of two good greyhounds during the day. “However, his general conduct went far beyond what is acceptable and from a public trainer in particular.” Given his past history – Mann had been up on misconduct charges twice before – GRNZ thought a disqualification of up to six months was appropriate.

Courtesy : Barry Lichter, Sunday Star Times