Man threatened to kill horse after betting error

10:26, January 05, 2010      

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A gambler who threatened to kill a racehorse in a bid to stop it taking part in a race after he forgot to place his syndicate's bet was given a suspended jail term on Monday.

Andrew Rodgerson, 26, warned a stud manager not to run 2008 St Leger winner Conduit in a valuable race at Ascot after he forgot to place the accumulator bet, the Press Association reported.

He panicked when he realized that victory for Conduit in last July's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes would lead to the syndicate expecting winnings of 50,000 pounds ($80,500), Bolton Crown Court heard.

Rodgerson, of Balderstone, near Rochdale, sent a series of text messages and emails to Peter Reynolds, the general manager for the Ballymacoll Stud Farm in Ireland which owned Conduit.

Ten days before the race he texted Mr Reynolds: "Dear Peter, we would just like to warn you should Conduit run in the King George then the horse will be killed."

Five days later he followed up with an email to the general manager, which read: "Dear Peter, I don't believe you are taking the threat of death to Conduit very seriously.

"We want the horse removed from the King George this weekend. If you co-operate the horse will live.

"There are people living in and around Newmarket who are ready and willing. There will also be people around at Ascot on Saturday."

Police were informed and Rodgerson was arrested at his home address just two days before the race.

He had pleaded guilty to threatening to commit damage at an earlier hearing after a charge of blackmail was dropped.

Sentencing him to 34 weeks in jail, suspended for two years, Judge Angela Nield said he had embarked on a "foolish escapade."

She accepted his actions had no practical consequences in that Conduit lined up for the King George and actually went on to claim victory, but she said a message of deterrence had to go out.

Joseph Hart, defending, said Rodgerson worked at a travel agency and would place bets for a syndicate, some of whose members he knew, while others were more shadowy.

"The syndicate would tell him when and where to put money on and get the best odds," he said.

"This was a clever series of bets and it required quite precise timing because the odds changed so rapidly.2

Rodgerson mistimed the Conduit bet though, when he had a busy day at work.

Hart said: "He forgot and did not put it on at the right time and with the right company and he realized if Conduit won he would owe this syndicate more than 50,000 pounds.

He was "utterly terrified" with the consequences of not paying the money back.

"These were powerful men, he thought these were shadowy men. He thought perhaps they would be people who would hurt him.

"So initially he lied to them that someone had taken the betting slip but then the syndicate said they would find him.

"The panic continued and he committed this frankly unsophisticated and deeply stupid crime."

Source: China Daily/Agencies
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