Trail of phone calls and text messages left by betting plot
Tuesday 09 October 2007
The tactics of the three riders involved in a race-fixing scam, who deny all charges, would be studied in detail during the trial, according to the counsel leading the case for the Crown. But first Jonathan Caplan QC offered the jury samples of the alleged conspiracy's strategy.
Using a telephone chart, details of a text message, a racecard and an analysis of accounts with an online betting firm, he gave the jury a step-by-step account of how Kieren Fallon had been involved in a plot not to win a race at Goodwood in August 2004.
By coming third on a 2-1 favourite, Goodwood Spirit, Fallon made nearly £30,000 for Miles Rodgers, the court heard. It was alleged that Rodgers, who is depicted as the ringleader, risked a total of £117,000 through seven different Betfair accounts to profit from the horse's defeat.
"The prosecution alleges that Mr Rodgers's confidence to lay the horse for that amount of money came from what happened earlier that day," Caplan said. "That is to say the mobile telephone contact he had with others in the conspiracy – in this case Mr Fallon, through the intermediary Philip Sherkle."
Jurors were shown a mobile phone chart which allegedly detailed a 17-second call at 11.43am on 14 August 2004, from Sherkle's mobile to Fallon. Another call from Sherkle to Fallon, lasting 1 minute and 28 seconds, followed at 12.04pm, the jury was told.
There was then a text message from the jockey's mobile to Sherkle at 12.08, followed by a text from Sherkle to Rodgers a minute later.
The latter message, recovered from Rodgers' mobile, read "6.55 no 4 *".
Mr Caplan said that referred to the race time at Goodwood, while "no 4" referred to the horse's number on the racecard - and "*" meant "non-trier".
It is alleged this was the same message which Fallon had sent to Sherkle a minute before, forwarded to Rodgers. "Mr Fallon was confiding in that text message that he would do what he could if necessary to stop that horse," Caplan said.
At 6.36pm, Rodgers began to lay Goodwood Spirit to lose, using accounts controlled by him in seven different names, jurors were told, the last one being laid at 6.51pm, four minutes before the race was due to start.
A total amount of £116,738 was laid, with the accounts making a profit of £29,822 from the horse losing, the court heard.
Caplan also presented examples of what he claimed to be a dishonest agreement by the two other jockeys charged. He said that Darren Williams had won Rodgers £1,260 for bets of £13,362 to oppose Chispa, his mount at Newcastle on 24 March 2003.
And he suggested that Fergal Lynch had undertaken to stop three horses at Ripon on 24 August 2004: Bond Babe, Familiar Affair, and Bond City. He claimed that Lynch was emboldened by the need to pay for a new BMW, but that his plans backfired when Familiar Affair won, costing Rodgers £43,328. The jury would hear a recording of Rodgers subsequently talking to Lynch, "clearly upset", and Caplan said that he would be heard telling the jockey to make "no mistake" with the next horse. He then laid £68,763 on Bond City, who finished second, to win £12,537.
Caplan alleged that Williams won the conspirators about £55,000 by losing on four horses. By the time of their arrest, he claimed that Lynch's mounts – five losers out of six – had achieved a net profit of £5,000.
'They will take my licence off me . . . they are watching me'
Kieren Fallon sent what the prosecution described as "a revealing set of text messages" the day after winning a race that, it is alleged, he was supposed to have lost, the court heard.
The conspirators behind the plot calculated that Fallon's victory on a horse owned by the Queen, Daring Aim, had cost them £138,000, the court was told.
Fallon rode Daring Aim to victory in the 6.15 at Newmarket on 23 July 2004. Jonathan Caplan QC, prosecuting, said that the next day there followed a set of text messages between the jockey and Philip Sherkle, who was allegedly the intermediary between Fallon and the businessman Miles Rodgers, who it is alleged is at the centre of the conspiracy.
At 11.08am, Fallon texted to Sherkle: "Only this phone to use." One minute later, Fallon sent the message: "I will call you when I can."
At 12.17pm, Sherkle texted Fallon: "If u don't speak to me now I won't be able to help you." Then at 12.22pm, Fallon replied: "They will take my licence off me if they drift like that last night. They are watching me." Ten minutes later he wrote: "I will call you in 10 minutes."
Rodgers told Sherkle, it is claimed, that he had drawn up a list of winners and losers which was "about four and a half". It is alleged that this referred to a list showing the money Fallon had lost for the conspiracy, showing a net loss of £450,000. A document, discovered at Rodgers' Italian restaurant and shown to the jury, shows profits and losses apparently related to two Betfair accounts.
The five Fallon wins are shown at the top, with a net loss to the conspiracy of £579,433. These include: £142,000 on Russian Rhythm, £125,928 on Pontefract, £138,000 on Daring Aim, £124,000 on Barking Mad and Beauvrai £49,505.
The lower column, of horses which lost, shows a gain for the conspirators of £142,854, but still leaving a net loss of £436,579 which Fallon "was going to have to work off before he stood to gain".
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