A MIRACLE Mile winning horse trainer who was paid more than $25,000 in fees for training a horse that did not exist was convicted of fraud in Goulburn Local Court on Wednesday.
Michael John Day, 58, of Bungonia Rd, Goulburn pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.
Day defrauded a client of $25,677 by claiming training and other expenses of a non-existent horse, 'Miriyan', over five years.
Police facts tendered in court said Day's client had owned a mare called 'Jag One' since 2003. Day was the sole trainer of this horse, at his stables in Goulburn.
In December 2007, Day suggested his client put Jag One into foal and arranged for the mare to be artificially inseminated.
After the insemination was allegedly done, the client paid Day $3000 for the procedure.
Day advised his client the horse was pregnant with foal in late November, 2008.
On January 7, 2009, Day advised his client a foal had been born and was being stabled at a property near Goulburn.
Police facts said this birth did not occur; no foal was born. However, the name Miriyan was chosen for the non-existent foal.
On February 5, 2009, Day's client attended the property near Goulburn and saw a foal that had small white spots on the upper nose; two of its hoofs were black with white markings.
The client saw another foal on a second occasion: the aforementioned markings were not present on that foal, but the client still believed Miriyan existed.
Over the next six years, the client made monthly payments to Day for training the non-existent Miriyan. The horse never ran at a harness race meet over these years, but Day claimed the reason was because the horse was either ill or injured.
The first payment was on October 1, 2012, and payments continued until January 13, 2015. The payments totalled $25,677.
Police said that in December 2014 the client became annoyed with Day because the horse still had not run. She spoke to him about the possible sale of Miriyan.
Day told her Miriyan was going to be sent to Victoria for veterinary care and training at a location known as Kilmore. When the client was not given any updates about Miriyan's progress, she contacted the owner of Kilmore and discovered no horse by the name of Miriyan was there.
She became suspicious and contacted NSW Harness Racing. An investigation commenced and they discovered Miriyan had never existed. The foal the client had sighted years before was another horse.
NSW Harness Racing conducted their own investigation to the matter and disqualified Day from the racing industry for 10 years.
On October 20, 2015, Day was arrested and taken to Goulburn Police Station where he made full admissions in an electronic interview.
Compensation of $25,677 is being sought by police on behalf of the victim.
In court on Wednesday, Day’s solicitor Tim McGrath said his client had been a man of overall good character until this matter.
Day had trained Gundary Flyer’ to win the Miracle Mile in 1982 and had been a self employed horse trainer for the past 38 years.
“He realises now that when the vet told him there was no foal that he should have told the client,” Mr McGrath said.
“He said he simply didn’t have the guts to tell the owner and then he took a chance that he could gamble his way out of the situation.
“He is a person of good skill and reputation and he now realises that he has also been disqualified from the industry and is unlikely to ever train horses again and thus he has lost his livelihood.”
He said Day was being treated for depression.
Magistrate Carolyn Hunstman found Day guilty and ordered him to undertake an assessment for an Intensive Corrections Order, with a final sentencing in Goulburn Local Court on March 16.
Magistrate Huntsman said she had no alternative to a custodial sentence.
“It is a serious fraud over a long period of time,” Ms Huntsman said.
“It is not appropriate to give you a suspended sentence.”
No compensation order has been made at this stage.
According to Section 69 of the Sentencing Procedures Act 1999, an Intensive Corrections Order states “a court is not to refer an offender for such an assessment unless satisfied, having considered all the alternatives, that no sentence other than imprisonment is appropriate and that the sentence is likely to be for a period of no more than two years.”