GREYHOUND trainer Toby Weekes said he is relieved to finally have his named cleared after he had been accused of threatening former Deputy Premier Troy Grant after the greyhound racing ban was announced last year.
Weekes had entered a plea of not guilty to a harassment charge last September, with Magistrate Paul Hayes dismissing the case on Thursday in Dubbo Local Court after a hearing.
Throughout the hearing, evidence was given by the co-accused Christopher Wilson, an employee of Weekes’ at the time, who had already pleaded guilty and been given a fine and a 12-month good behaviour bond in May.
Wilson admitted calling Grant’s electoral office where he told his senior electorate officer he would ‘burn his house down’ during one of the phone calls. Wilson explained he had gotten carried away and that the threats were not genuine.
The prosecution wanted to prove that Wilson and Weekes had acted together, even though Wilson had already admitted to making the threats, including a voicemail where he threatened to kill Mr Grant’s family.
Weekes denied he and Wilson had worked together and told Australian Racing Greyhound the only thing he was guilty of was questioning Grant’s political motives.
“All I did was call and say ‘are you in bed with the greens’ which isn’t even a threat – it was a political inference and I think I had every right to challenge him on that,” Weekes said.
The Molong trainer, who has 70 greyhounds on his property, explained he had no control over Wilson’s actions and said he did not approve of the approach he had taken.
“He used his phone, I used my phone and I never told him what to say – I never would ask anyone to say those sorts of things,” Weekes said.
“The co-accused is obviously very sorry for it, but he has lost his job with me as a result of what was said.
“I don’t approve of what was said, but unfortunately I got brought into all of it.”
Weekes said it was important for him to prove his innocence, with more than just his pride and reputation at stake.
“Obviously I didn’t want it to hurt my reputation, but if I was found guilty there was a big chance I’d lose my greyhound license which is my livelihood – so there was a lot on the line for me.
“It’s a huge relief to have my name cleared. It has been stressful for my whole family, so I am glad justice has prevailed.
“We never lost any clients throughout the ordeal and we are now going bigger and better than ever. People who know me knew that it wasn’t something I’d do.
“However I was discriminated against quite badly in the media and it’s been 12 months now – it’s been a long time.”
He is hopeful that by winning the court case it sends a message to the government that individuals cannot be walked over and that it gives participants within the greyhound industry the courage to stand up for what they think is right.
“It was for me, of course, but I wanted to stick up for the greyhound industry too.
“I wanted to prove the point that whilst we are only normal people, we can stand up to these politicians and when we are right justice will be served.
“Even though the ban got overturned it still affected a lot of people. I really hope the government has learned that it has to listen to its country and city people – not just about greyhounds – but in general instead of just going and making decisions that are going to affect everyone’s lives.”