Berry charges dropped because of Fallon trial

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The Independent Online

The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that it has dropped race-fixing charges against the trainer Alan Berry in the wake of the collapse of the Kieren Fallon trial. Berry, who was charged back in December 2004 with defrauding users of the Betfair betting exchange, was to stand trial at the Old Bailey next week.

Berry, 44, who is based at Cockerham, Lancashire, and the blacksmith Steve O'Sullivan, 36, had denied trying to cheat by putting the filly Hillside Girl in a race at Carlisle in June 2003 knowing she was lame and laying bets on her to lose.

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesman said: "Although the trials concerned different defendants and a different horse race, there were a number of elements common to both, as they emerged from the same investigation. It is important that the CPS keeps cases under review, particularly where there has been an unsuccessful trial on a linked matter.

"After careful review, it has been concluded that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction for either Mr Berry or Mr O'Sullivan."

The collapse of the trial of Fallon and five others last month generated strong criticism of the City of London Police who had conducted that investigation and the case against Berry and O'Sullivan.

O'Sullivan's solicitor, Richard Brooks, said: "The CPS says it has concluded that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction for Mr Berry or Mr O'Sullivan. I disagree. There was never a realistic prospect of a conviction.

"The collapse of the Kieren Fallon case did not affect the evidence in this case. It simply affected the confidence of the CPS and brought the realisation that things are not necessarily what they seem.

"It was shocking that my client was arrested in December 2004. It has been over three years since the arrest, and four and a half years since the race in question. Nothing the police produced for the CPS to consider was capable of proving the case against the two men and it beggars belief that it has taken this long to release them."

Punters wishing to concentrate on events on the track rather than the court circuit can start to mull over entries for the Cheltenham Gold Cup which were announced yesterday. My Way De Solzen and Beef Or Salmon are notable absentees from the list of 42 entries headed by the Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star and Denman for the Totesport-sponsored race on 14 March. The champion trainer could also run Star De Mohaison, Gungadu, Turko and Neptune Collonges.

Nicholls's West Country rival David Pipe has six possibles, including Our Vic and Celestial Gold. The latter makes his return to action in a novices' hurdle at Hereford today after an injury-enforced absence of 644 days. Kicking King, the 2005 winner, who is to make his comeback this month, is one of 11 Irish entries.

At Kempton yesterday a 107-1 treble advertised Kirsty Milczarek as the next potential top-level female rider. The 23-year-old has hit a fantastic run of form with 10 winners in the last fortnight and her first hat-trick inches her closer to reducing her claim to 3lb.

Just to prove the point that Milczarek is not the only female booting home winners, Hayley Turner won the finale at Lingfield, while Nina Carberry made a rare foray across the Irish Sea to pick up the opener at Musselburgh. That track also saw patience rewarded when the Kinross trainer Jim Barclay ended a near five-year winnerless spell when The Weaver took the selling hurdle. "I have only four in training at the moment," Barclay said, "and I only train for people I like, but we can do the job with the right horses."