News

Fined Jewels drivers have penalties reduced

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Six leading drivers have had fines or suspensions handed down on Harness Jewels day reduced after an appeal.

Mark Purdon, Brent Barclay, Gavin Smith, Ricky May, Natalie Rasmussen and Terry Chmiel were all either fined or suspended for failing to come up onto and/or behind the mobile arm.

Purdon, May and Smith were each fined $400 respectively, Rasmussen received a $500 fine, Barclay was fined $200 and suspended for one day while Terry Chmiel picked up a three-day suspension.

All drivers appealed the initial penalties handed out by the Judicial Control Authority (JCA) on the day on the premise that the normal penalty for a breach of the rule is $100 - making their penalties significantly bigger, even taking into account the status of Harness Jewels Day.

Stewards on the day sought a 100 percent increase on the normal fine for the charge submitting a $200 fine, or appropriate suspension for each breach.

In the case of Rasmussen, she had been warned earlier in the day for the same offence, while Chmiel had been previously charged under the ruling.

The JCA however imposed significantly higher penalties than what was sought by stewards.

Rob Lawson, who represented the drivers at the appeals hearing late last month in front of Garry Thompson and Russell McKenzie, submitted that the recommended penalties by the stewards were appropriate and that the JCA decision was excessive.

Lawson raised a number of relevant matters including the fact that it was not suggested that the penalties had previously been manifestly inadequate, the losing driving fees after 6th position were the same as any other meeting, the visual aspects of knowing where 1609m starting point was created a difficulty and the mobile barrier moved faster than normal because of the distance of the race and the quality of the horses.

The Appeals Tribunal stated that in order for the appeal to be upheld, the appellants had to show that the fine handed out on the day was “manifestly excessive” and that they had successfully done that so the appeal was upheld.

The fines for Purdon, Smith, May and Rasmussen were each reduced to $200 while Barclay’s suspension was reduced to just a $200 fine. They appeal saw a two-day suspension handed to Chmiel, taking into account his previous breach of the rule, but as his suspension had been completed there was no further penalty.