Detective denies 'ticking timebomb' in Fallon prosecution

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The Independent Online

The chief police investigator in the Kieren Fallon race-fixing trial yesterday denied that there could have been a "ticking timebomb" in the prosectuon case.

Acting Detective Inspector Mark Manning was being cross-examined by the six-time Flat race champion jockey's QC, John Kelsey-Fry. Manning agreed that Timeform and Channel 4 racing analyst Jim McGrath was not asked to make a statement about his comment to officers that he did not think there had been cheating in the Ballinger Ridge race.

McGrath had made a statement about betting and form, the two areas he had been asked to comment on, Manning said.

Asked by Kelsey-Fry whether McGrath's comment on Ballinger Ridge would have been a "ticking timebomb" for the prosecution, Manning replied: "I do not accept that."

Fallon came second on Ballinger Ridge at Lingfield in March 2004 after leading the field for much of the race.

Fallon, Fergal Lynch and Darren Williams are accused of plotting to prevent 27 horses from racing on their merits in order to lose, in order that gambler Miles Rodgers could win bets on the races. Rodgers is one of three other men accused of conspiracy to defraud customers of the online betting exchange firm Betfair. All the defendants deny the charges.

Manning earlier admitted that he tried to get an expert to answer "inappropriate" questions. But he said it was because he was trying to clear up points because of his lack of racing knowledge.

He told the Old Bailey: "I do not want anyone to think because I stand in this witness box, I am an expert in horseracing – I am not."

He said that he had been trying to get clarification from Australian racecourse steward Ray Murrihy, who had been asked to view races and give an independent opinion.

Manning had said to Murrihy that it looked as though Fallon was waiting for someone to overtake him in his winning ride on Krynica in June 2004, the court heard.

In reply to Kelsey-Fry, Manning said: "It was clearly an inappropriate comment which I should not have passed."

In another winning race, on Barking Mad in August 2004, Manning had commented "we are looking for any evidence to support that he is not riding to win the race".

He told the court yesterday: "Two years later, it does not look like the sort of question one should ask. It does not look like an appropriate question."

Manning denied that he had been trying to influence Murrihy. He said: "Mr Murrihy is not a person who is easy to sway." The interview with Murrihy in April 2005 was recorded by police and placed in evidence. He was a prosecution witness earlier in the trial.

The case continues today.