A SHELBOURNE harness racing trainer has been fined $20,000 for his role in fixing three races in country Victoria in 2014.
Larry Eastman, 60, was sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to five dishonesty offences.
A magistrate said Eastman’s conduct reflected poorly on the honest and hard working people of the local harness racing industry.
Eastman came to police attention during their investigation of Mildura father-and-son harness racing figures Shayne and Greg Cramp, when Eastman was involved in intercepted phone calls.
His conduct involved using the technique of drenching, involving placing a tube down the horse’s throat and adding a mixture of alkalising agents, sodiums and bicarbonate – illegal within 48 hours of a race as it gives horses an unfair advantage.
Eastman was aware that the horse Cashiking was drenched four hours before Race 7 at Nyah at Swan Hill on December 2, 2014.
Cashiking’s odds shortened from $35 the day before to $8.50 after a “noticeable betting plunge”. Two Queensland men bet on Eastman’s behalf in an attempt to disguise his betting activity.
Cashiking won the race, and the associates of Eastman won $22,110.
Eastman drenched the horse Waterslide three to five hours before Race 5 at Charlton on December 8, 2014.
He planned for the horse to win the race, but not as “convincingly” as it did. The horse was held back for a blood test by stewards.
Eastman attempted to inject potassium to mask the effects of drenching, but knocked the syringe down the back of the horse stall. An associate of Eastman managed to inject Waterslide.
Eastman told the associate that what they did “goes to your grave”. He also said the syringe would be found in 2060 when they are “pulling the joint down”.
Eastman placed a successful $200 bet at three-to-one for a profit of $400.
Almost three years later, detectives found the syringe in the stall.
Eastman then told an associate to drench the horse Dynamite Dick three hours before Race 5 at Horsham on December 15, 2014. The associate was driving another horse, which was the favourite for the race.
He was instructed to allow Dynamite Dick to win.
Eastman told his Queensland associate that the horse would be “getting a bit of help”. Eastman bet $200 on the race.
His associates won a combined $13,655.
Three days later, Eastman arranged to make a number of losing bets in an attempt to hide his betting activity.
Detectives started investigating Eastman at the time, but took more than three years before charges were laid.
Eastman has since surrendered his racing licence after being involved in harness racing for 44 years. No one else involved in the race fixing has been subject to criminal charges.
Defence counsel Robert Timms said Eastman fixed the races after encountering financial difficulty in 2014, and claimed he only had $400 left in his account for Christmas.
No documents were tendered to court to prove his financial status at the time.
Mr Timms said it was unfortunate because in 2015 Eastman had a number of group 1 winners.
“The bizarre thing is that he engaged in this corrupt activity, and appears to have obtained less than $2000 out of it,” he said.
“We have a man who has lead an exemplary life up until this time of extreme financial hardship.
“He has now lost the opportunity for him to work within the industry, the only industry he has ever worked in.”
Prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Alan Walker said a prison term was within range for the offending.
Magistrate Patrick Southey said the offending put the public’s faith in harness racing at risk.
“If the public say ‘I don’t trust it, I’ve had enough of it, I’ll follow another sport,’ all those innocent hard working people will be impacted,” he said.
“I’m sure you will accept that the racing industry employs a lot of good people. Honest and hard-working, with a genuine love of horses.
“Their livelihoods will be put at risk if the public turn their back on it.”
Eastman was convicted and fined $20,000, with $122.30 in court costs.