Court hears police interview

December 06, 2017

Avenel harness racing driver Mark Pitt on Shez All Rock at Tabcorp Park in September this year.

An interview with Avenel harness racing driver Mark Pitt was shown in court yesterday, as a hearing involving four people accused of race fixing continued.

Mr Pitt, Lisa Bartley, Amanda Turnbull and Nathan Jack have pleaded not guilty to charges of engaging in, facilitating and possessing knowledge and/or information about conduct that corrupts a betting outcome.

Magistrate John Murphy viewed the interview with Mr Pitt, recorded at Melton Police Station on August 28, 2016.

In the interview, Mr Pitt spoke with detectives about how he first became involved in the industry and his relationship with his co-accused Lisa Bartley.

‘‘I don’t know much else about anything other than horses,’’ he said.

An investigation was launched into the tactics adopted during a harness race at Cobram on June 22, 2015.

Prosecutors allege the footage of race four at Cobram shows Nathan Jack took to the track with Tooram Lad and he allowed Airbournemagic, driven by Mr Pitt, which was close behind, to win.

When questioned about who he knew to be the trainer of Airbournemagic in 2015, Mr Pitt said he thought David Bartley was training it.

‘‘I think he might’ve been taking it to Mr Jack’s place to use a water walker (a therapeutic treading pool for horses),’’ he said.

When asked about his recollection of the race in question, Mr Pitt said he remembered the drive ‘‘vaguely’’.

‘‘I can’t really recall the day ... I ended up behind the leader and ended up winning a good race,’’ he said.

‘‘It seemed like we were travelling fairly fast, I was always behind the leader and made a run when the leader was dying out a fraction.’’

Mr Pitt told detectives he did not think it was surprising that Airbournemagic won, as it had been ‘‘pretty strong’’ during a previous race.

‘‘(David Bartley said) ‘Do your best and try and hold a forward position’, as close a position to the leader as I could,’’ he said.

‘‘(There was) nothing out of the ordinary in that race ... Tooram Lad got a bit tired late.’’

Mr Pitt denied discussing racing odds with anyone before or after the race, but did admit someone made mention to his partner Ms Bartley about winning money.

‘‘I can’t afford to be doing stuff like that, it affects my career and income ... I’m trying to make a living out of it,’’ he said.

On Monday, Mr Bartley did not give evidence in court with Magistrate Murphy deeming the consequences to be too severe.

Last week, the court heard evidence from betting agency employees about the pre-race betting patterns of the alleged fixed race.

Harness Racing Victoria evidence was also thrown out and not used during the hearing as it was found to be involuntarily obtained.

The hearing continues today.

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