News

Dad doesn't take stand

by
December 05, 2017

Lisa Bartley

Nathan Jack

Amanda Turnbull

Mark Pitt

The father of a woman accused of race fixing did not have to give evidence in court yesterday, after a magistrate deemed the consequences to be too severe.

Prosecutor Gary Hevey brought Lisa Bartley’s father David forward to give evidence into the case against her and three others — after an investigation into the tactics adopted during a harness race at Cobram on June 22, 2015.

Ms Bartley, Mark Pitt, Amanda Turnbull and Nathan Jack have pleaded not guilty to charges of conduct that corrupts a betting outcome, among other charges.

Prosecution say racing footage shows Mr Jack took to the track with horse Tooram Lad, and he allegedly allowed Airbournemagic driven by Mark Pitt, which was close behind — to win.

Court documents obtained by The News told how Airbournemagic was allegedly at the stables of Ms Turnbull, a highly-regarded trainer, and Mr Jack, an experienced driver.

But the details given to Harness Racing Victoria said the horse was at the stables of Mr Bartley in Congupna.

As the hearing entered its second week, witness David Bartley yesterday asked Magistrate John Murphy to forego his evidence for fear of ruining his relationship with his daughter.

‘‘I do not wish to give evidence against her ... she’s my baby girl,’’ he told Shepparton Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Murphy accepted his plea, calling his request reasonable and understandable.

‘‘There’d be obvious severe consequences,’’ Mr Murphy said.

‘‘The harm outweighs the desire for the evidence to be given ... (my ruling is) he is not a compellable witness against his daughter.’’

Mr Hevey argued because the evidence was unavailable he would seek to tender a statement Mr Bartley made to Victoria Police in September last year.

‘‘It was a voluntary statement made a year after (the race in Cobram) and it is highly probable that the representation is reliable,’’ he said.

The court heard how Mr Bartley travelled to Melbourne to be interviewed by Victoria Police sporting integrity unit’s Detective Anthony Harwood.

Det Harwood told the court how he contacted Mr Bartley and met with him after the four accused were interviewed.

‘‘I met with him for the purpose of further inquiries ... he was willing to make a statement of what happened and the reasons at to why,’’ he said.

Ms Bartley’s defence lawyer Rohan Laurence questioned Det Harwood as to why Mr Bartley was not charged for involvement in the alleged fixed race in Cobram.

Mr Harwood said he did not believe Mr Bartley was in on the alleged ‘‘fix’’ and also said there was a lack of evidence.

Mr Laurence submitted that the circumstances surrounding Mr Bartley’s Victoria Police interview meant it fell short of being reliable.

‘‘There is a strong incentive for David Bartley to provide a statement that might get him out of trouble,’’ he said.

Mr Murphy disagreed and allowed the evidence to be tendered.

‘‘I’m satisfied that it’s highly probable the statement was reliable,’’ he said.

Last week, the court heard evidence from betting agency employees about the pre-race betting patterns in the race won by Airbournemagic.

Phone data and interviews with Victoria Police are other key pieces of evidence prosecution are relying on in their case.

Last week, Mr Murphy ruled that Harness Racing Victoria evidence against the four accused would be thrown out and not used during the hearing.

The hearing continues today.

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