LOCAL greyhound racing identity Des Dooley has successfully appealed a lifetime ban that was handed down last year after part of an animal product used as a lure was found at his Maffra training premises.
Since the live baiting scandal of 2015 resulted in an overhaul of the industry in 2016, it has been a serious offence under Greyhound Racing Victoria’s rules to use any animal or parts of animals to train dogs.
Last year’s decision by the independent Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board meant Mr Dooley – a greyhound trainer and long-standing racing manager of the Sale Greyhound Racing Club – could no longer have any direct involvement in the greyhound racing industry, including the keeping of greyhounds, or in dog racing or training.
In addition, Mr Dooley was no longer able to hold his position as racing manager at Sale Greyhounds.
The board heard on January 31, 2017, GRV welfare inspectors conducting an inspection at the licensed premises of Mr Dooley and his wife Diane observed a sheepskin lure to train dogs.
When they returned the following day, they found a piece of sheepskin in a bin.
Along with his wife, who has since successfully appealed her life ban, Mr Dooley was charged with breaching Local Racing Rule 42.18, which, among other things, makes it an offence to possess, on premises where greyhounds are trained, any part of an animal which might reasonably be used as a lure to entice a greyhound to pursue it.
Mr Dooley had pleaded guilty to that offence. Mr Dooley gave evidence that he last used the lure about Christmas 2016.
He knew about the existence of the rule banning the use of animals or animal parts, but considered the rule to be “bulls**t”, and considered the use of a lamb skin from an animal killed eight years ago different to live baiting and should not be prohibited.
However, under the strict GRV rules, anyone found guilty of an offence under LR 42.18 faces a minimum penalty of disqualification for life unless “special circumstances” exist.
At the time, the board found none of the eight facts put forward by Mr Dooley’s defence counsel amounted to “special circumstances”, including his extensive involvement in the industry, his “otherwise excellent character and record”, and his cooperation and guilty plea.
That decision has now been “set aside” by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which has instead imposed an 18-month disqualification period, effective from February 13 last year, and suspended Mr Dooley’s registration as a trainer for 12 months, effective from August 13, 2020, but suspended for 12 months on condition that he does not commit any more breaches of Local Racing Rule 42.18 during this period.
In effect, Mr Dooley has already served the bulk of the disqualification, with the period of disqualification already served between February 13, 2019 and the February 18, 2020 orders, declared as time already served.
At the VCAT hearing, it was accepted that there were six special considerations that, when viewed together, allowed a penalty other than a life ban, including that the offence was “low end offending”, he had made an “exceptional industry contribution”, and that the ban would have “significant adverse consequences”.