(1) GAR86(d) – Mr. Camilleri, being a trainer having official duties in relation to greyhound racing, did make a false or misleading statement on 5 December 2013 regarding Hydrocortisone in the form of Hysone 20mg tablets to Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) stewards Mr. Glenn Fish and Mr. Brayden Jinks and GRV Industry Veterinary Officer Dr. Steven Karamatic during the course of an investigation regarding a swab irregularity taken from the greyhound ‘Luxurious’ on 11 August 2013, in that he denied knowing the nature of the substance Hydrocortisone in the form of Hysone 20mg tablets that was being administered to Greyhounds trained by Mr. Graeme Bate.
(2) GAR86(o) – Mr. Camilleri, in that between on or about 11 August 2012 and 23 October 2013 he did administer or cause to be administered the prohibited substance Hydrocortisone in the form of Hysone 20mg tablets to Greyhounds trained by Mr. Peter Hunt without his knowledge or permission, being conduct which in the opinion of stewards is negligent, improper or constitutes misconduct.
General Following advice from Racing Analytical Services Laboratory, the Stewards of Greyhound Racing Victoria conducted an investigation into the results of a pre-race urine sample taken from greyhound ‘Luxurious’ at the Sale Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Sunday, 11 August 2013.
During the investigation, Stewards received evidence from registered trainer Mr. Graeme Bate, Mrs. Beverley Bate (Owner), Mr. Joe Briffa (Trainer), Mr. Robert Camilleri (Trainer), Ms. Amy Cole (Trainer), Ms. Jenny Hunt (Trainer), Mr. Leon Harris (Handler), Ms. Michelle Mallia-Magri (Trainer), Mr. Chris Falcke (Department of Health), Wendy Fasoli (Trainer) and received statements from Dr. Alastair Smith (Sandown Veterinary Clinic), Mr. Paul Zahra (Racing Analytical Services Laboratory), Dr. Steven Karamatic (Greyhound Racing Industry Veterinary Officer), Mr. Glenn Fish (Chief Steward) and Mr. Ron Matthews (Steward).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. Camilleri with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rules GAR86 (d) and GAR86 (o) as indicated in changes (1) and (2) above.
Under Rule 47.1 of the Greyhound Racing Victoria Local Rules these charges constitute Serious Offences. As a result, on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Racing Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M(1) of the Racing Act.
Mr. Robert Camilleri represented himself.
Mr. Robert Camilleri pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Mr. Paul Holdenson QC assisted by Mr. Patrick Considine (Corrs Chambers Westgarth) represented the Stewards Panel.
After hearing all the evidence tendered and having regard to GAR86 (d) and GAR86 (o), the RADB determined that:
(a) in relation to charge (1), Mr. Camilleri was guilty as charged and was fined $500 and disqualified for 3 months; and
(b) in relation to charge (2), Mr. Camilleri was guilty as charged and he was fined $500 and disqualified for 3 months (to commence after the disqualification for charge 1 has been served and wholly suspended for 18 months).
The RADB’s reasons for their decisions were as follows:
Charge 1 – GAR 86(d)
Evidence given by all the parties has been reviewed. As noted by the Stewards, there are inconsistencies in the evidence. Mr. Camilleri claimed at the Stewards Inquiry on 5 December 2013 and at the hearing before us on 26 May 2014 that he didn’t know that the “little white tablets” were Hysone 20mg tablets or that they contained Hydrocortisone; he said he believed they were anti-cramp tablets to be given to those greyhounds who were identified by Mr. Graeme Bate as bad crampers. Mr. Camilleri also claimed that he originally got the tablets from Mr. Bate in a little white container with no label on it, or with the label scratched off, which he kept to prevent the tablets from getting wet. In this regard, his evidence was not confined to the seven loose tablets left on a table at Mr. Bate’s kennels when Stewards arrived to notify Mr. Bate of the Gunda Bale positive swab on 10 May 2013. Mr. Camilleri said that he had used the little white tablets for a couple of years, and had even given four of these tablets to his own racing greyhounds during this period. Mr. Bate said in his evidence that he didn’t know Mr. Camilleri had done this.
From the evidence, the Board is of the view that it is highly unlikely that as at 5 December 2013, Mr. Camilleri did not know that the little white tablets were Hysone 20mg and that they contained Hydrocortisone. The Board notes the following:
1. The tablets were imprinted “H20”.
2. Mr. Camilleri has been a registered greyhound trainer since 1995 and a public trainer for most of this time. While working and residing at Mr. Bate’s property for six years, he has trained a small number of greyhounds and used the little white tablets on his greyhounds on four occasions. It is difficult to believe he would do that not knowing what the tablets really were.
3. Ms. Amy Cole, who was responsible for looking after one of the sheds at the Bate property during the time that Mr. Camilleri was there, knew that Hysone tablets were being used at the Bate property in 2012 as, according to the evidence of Ms. Michelle Mallia-Magri, another greyhound trainer for whom Amy worked for a short time, Amy suggested Michelle try them on her greyhounds. It would seem very surprising if others working at the Bate property, particularly Mr. Camilleri and Mr. Joe Briffa (both experienced trainers in their own right and in charge of the Bate operations when Mr Bate was not there) did not know at least at a similar time to Ms. Cole of the use of the Hysone tablets there.
4. Mr. Bate was notified by GRV Stewards on 24 October 2013 that a swab taken from the greyhound “Luxurious” at the Sale Greyhound Racing Club meeting on 11 August 2013 had shown the presence of the prohibited substance free Hydrocortisone at an unusual or abnormal amount of an endogenous substance. At the time of the notification Mr. Camilleri was present and telephoned Mr. Bate to inform him of the Stewards’ visit and Mr. Bate subsequently arrived and talked with the Stewards. This positive swab probably arose because, at the time of the notification of Gunda Bale positive swab, Stewards took one of the seven loose tablets which Dr. Steven Karamatic (GRV Veterinary Officer and present with the Stewards at that visit) found on a table at the Bate kennels, and took it to Racing Analytical Services Ltd on 13 May 2013 for analysis. RASL confirmed that the tablet contained Hydrocortisone (Refer witness statement of Dr Steven Karamatic). Mr. Bate said in his interview with Stewards on 24 October 2013 that he had thrown away all the remaining Hysone tablets because Stewards were constantly swabbing his dogs, so he knew Stewards “must have been looking for levels” and he stopped using them. Even if Mr. Camilleri did not know up until then what the “little white tablets” were (which we doubt), it is difficult to believe that he would not have been told or at least noticed that there was a change in Mr. Bate’s medication regime (that is, no more “little white tablets”) and to enquire as to the reason. Mr. Bate’s evidence on 10 December 2013 states that he didn’t tell Joe (Briffa) and Rob (Camilleri) initially, but “since this (presumably the Luxurious swab result), naturally Joe and Rob found out (page 54). Mrs. Bate was even more forthright in her second interview with Stewards on 24 February 2014 when she said that Rob and Joe knew what the (little white) tablets were.
In his interviews on 5 December 2013 and before this hearing on 26 May 2014, Mr. Camilleri denied any knowledge of what the little white tablets were. They were to be used, at Mr. Bate’s direction, for those dogs which were bad crampers. Mr. Camilleri said he knew nothing more about them. The particulars of charge 1 require the Board, on the Briginshaw standard, to be comfortably satisfied that on 5 December 2013, Mr. Camilleri knew “the nature of the substance Hydrocortisone in the form of Hysone 20mg tablets being administered to greyhounds trained by Mr. Graeme Bate”. Even accepting that Mr. Camilleri did not know that the little white tablets were Hysone 20mg and that they contained Hydrocortisone (and this is somewhat of a stretch given other evidence), we are comfortably satisfied that he would have known this on 5 December 2013. As an experienced public trainer with his own greyhounds, it seems to defy common sense to believe that he did not know these things by this time. His statements and his actions (or lack of obvious enquiry) may have been guided by his loyalty to Mr. Bate and his fellow workers. Indeed, all of those people who gave evidence in early December 2013, maintained a similar line of denying knowledge of what the little white tablet was. But even knowing that it was an additional tablet for the bad crampers (whereas the Pharma Mag tablets were for the “ordinary” crampers and the Pharma Mag name was always used) and then using these tablets for his own greyhounds should have put Mr. Camilleri in a position of finding out for himself what the tablets were and what was in them. We believe any reasonable trainer in Mr. Camilleri’s position would have done so. We also note that Mr. Briffa and Ms. Cole, who were both charged with a similar offence to Mr. Camilleri and who denied knowledge of what the little white tablet was in their interviews with the Stewards in December 2013, pleaded guilty to their respective charges before this Board. Therefore it is almost unbelievably strange that given his role in Mr. Bate’s operations, it was only Mr. Camilleri who did not at 5 December 2013 know about the Hysone tablets and that they contained Hydrocortisone.
The Board noted that in the course of submissions made by Mr. Camilleri after delivery of this finding that he conceded that when interviewed by the Stewards on 5 December 2013 he was aware of the nature of the substance Hydrocortisone and the 20 mg Hysone tablets and had been so aware since about 24 October 2013.
The Board finds Mr. Camilleri guilty on charge 1.
Charge 2 – GAR 86(o)
If we accepted Mr. Camilleri’s claims on charge 1, then administering the little white tablets to greyhounds trained by Mr. Peter Hunt without his knowledge or permission may be even more negligent or improper than it might otherwise be. Mr. Camilleri claimed that he was only guilty of what Mr. Bate directed. In his mind, given the family relationship (Mr Hunt being Mrs. Bate’s son), Mr Hunt’s dogs were Mr Bate’s dogs – part of the overall Bate kennel operations. Nevertheless Mr. Camilleri is an experienced public trainer who knew of Mr Hunt’s illness and he should have enquired further as to Mr Hunt’s knowledge or permission to the administration of the tablets. Otherwise he was exposing Mr. Hunt (as trainer) and those greyhounds to which the tablets were given, to a potential positive swab and the consequences and penalties that flow from that.
In the circumstances the Board are comfortably satisfied that Mr. Camilleri’s conduct is negligent and improper and in breach of GAR 86(o). The Board finds Mr. Camilleri guilty on charge 2.
In assessing penalties, the Board took into account all the evidence and submissions, including the following matters:
(a) Mr. Camilleri’s not guilty pleas;
(b) The nature of the prohibited substance Hydrocortisone;
(c) The need to maintain the integrity of greyhound racing and ensure a level playing field
for all participants;
(d) Prior penalties for similar offences, including those associated with other persons charged
in the ‘Luxurious’ swab irregularity matter;
(e) Mr. Camilleri’s character and his clean history (very minor prior offences) in the
(f) Mr. Camilleri’s false statements impeded Stewards in their investigations; and
(g) Mr. Camilleri’s conduct in relation to charge (2) was over a lengthy period of time.