Judges hear Flockton appeal

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The Court of Appeal yesterday began its hearing of the Flockton Grey ``ringer'' case in which three men are challenging their 10 to two conviction by a York Crown Court jury in 1984 of conspiring to defraud bookmakers.

Keneth Richardson, 58, a businessman and gambler from Hutton, Humberside, and two associates, Colin Mathison and Peter Boddy, were convicted after the prosecution alleged that a three-year-old, Good Hand, was substituted for Flockton Grey when it romped home at 10-1 - all of 20 lengths ahead of the field in a two-year-old race at Leicester in 1982.

According to the Crown, the heavily backed Good Hand disappeared after the race and before a stewards' inquiry, leaving only a photograph as evidence.

The trial judge gave Richardson a nine-month suspended jail sentence and fined him pounds 20,000. Later he was warned off all racecourses by the Jockey Club for 25 years. Mathison was fined pounds 3,000 and Boddy conditionally discharged.

Those behind the betting coup stood to gain pounds 36,000. Richardson, the former owner of both horses, claims the "ringer" was some other horse, unconnected with him.

His original appeal was turned down in 1986 and it was not until June last year that the Home Office agreed to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal.

Yesterday, Edmund Lawson QC, for the three men, told the court that the appeal was based on non-disclosure by the prosecution of potentially vital evidence, including photographs and witness statements, relating to the true identity of the winning horse.

Denis Bellamy, a zoologist called as a defence witness, told the appeal judges that he had compared three pictures of the winner with the photographs of Good Hand and concluded that "the horses are not the same". The hearing, was adjourned until today.