Ben Smith pleads guilty and not guilty to the 10 charges he's facing

POSTED ON  |  09-05-2019

Ben Smith
Suspended trainer Ben Smith pleaded guilty to some and not guilty to a range of raceday treatment, prohibited substance and misconduct charges he’s facing before stewards on Tuesday. The former Newcastle-based trainer, assisted by his lawyer Paul O’Sullivan, was asked to answer 10 charges over a string of alleged indiscretions stemming from evidence stewards discovered during a stable raid in September last year and excessive levels of cobalt found in horses he trained.

The first charge Smith was asked to plead to was two separate breaches of AR232 for giving “evidence in the knowledge that such evidence was false” when interviewed by stewards during their stable raid on September 11. The first breach related to an unlabelled “brown bottle” which screen results showed to contain elevated levels of formaldehyde - an embalming fluid - while the other breach centred around “a number of unregistered substances in his vehicle located at the Newcastle Racecourse and his residential property”.

O’Sullivan pleaded not guilty on behalf of his client telling stewards, “We say it was a course of conduct on one day” and he indicated if the two sperate breaches were merged into “one breach only” there was a possibility his client could change his plea. Stewards rejected the challenge and accepted the two not guilty pleas.

Smith did though plead guilty to the second charge he faced, also under AR232 for “refusing to give evidence at both a Stewards investigation and a Stewards inquiry conducted at Newcastle racecourse on 11 September 2018, in that he refused to provide the name of the person who had supplied eight products to him” some of which were acquired from warned-off harness racing trainer Neil Costello.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of AR240 for taking two horses to the races where samples taken from both horses showed elevated cobalt levels. The two horses were Iron Duke which won the Civil Sydney Maiden Plate at Newcastle on August 25 and Elaborate, the winner of the Fresh-R Class 1 Handicap at Wyong on August 26. Following Smith’s guilty pleas, stewards disqualified both horses from their respective victories.

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