Fallon case raises doubts

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2007, 12:00am

On the Fallon trial, one thing it is unlikely to do is prove once and for all, as some would wish, that betting exchanges are the cause of all evil in the world.

It may even serve to remind conspiracy theorists everywhere, and we suspect there are a few in Hong Kong, that it simply isn't that easy - even betting to lose with something, allegedly, in your favour.

In opening remarks, the prosecution even conceded that, of the 17 races where it will try to prove that Fallon contacted other defendants regarding particular mounts of his which they then backed to lose on betting exchanges, five times it all went pear-shaped and the horse won.

With the result that, at the time of the arrest of those standing trial, the operation was GBP338,000 behind - or HK$5.34 million - and a serious falling out of the parties well under way.

In other words, they would have been better off backing the alleged non-triers to win.

Gee, it's a wonder everyone isn't trying to fix races.

While the success of the venture in no way affects the legal culpability of those involved if in fact the court finds them guilty, it does have an important place in terms of public perception. We wonder whether a losing bottom line will make it more difficult for the Crown to convict and whether the wider community will, on that basis, merely shrug at all the fuss.

Contrast that with the Chris Munce case. After the guilty verdict was announced last March, a flabbergasted defence counsel asked the presiding wig what was the criminality of the jockey's actions - after all, he had been found guilty of no more than telling someone which of his horses had the best chances, in his opinion, and that is more a crime under racing rules than a corrupt act. The magistrate pointed to Munce having received a sizeable sum of money for this as the criminal element to the case.

There was never any allegation of corrupt activity in terms of Munce's riding but public sympathy for the jockey was never very high because he had made money out of it.