A Seymour horse trainer was convicted and fined $5000 by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Thursday.
The defendant, Mark Thomas, faced life disqualification as a trainer on the charge of misconduct, improper conduct or unseemly behaviour against fellow horse trainer Shannon Hope.
Mr Thomas initiated a verbal altercation with licensed trainer Shannon Hope, while in possession of a firearm, on October 9 last year at the licensed stable premises of Lee and Shannon Hope.
The court heard that the altercation occurred after a misunderstanding over an exchange of text messages between the defendant’s wife and Mr Hope regarding an exchange of food items.
Ross Inglis, who represented Mr Thomas, alleged that the rifle his defendant took to the property was unloaded and that his client had only sought to put distance between his family and Mr Hope.
The matter was not reported to Racing Victoria or the police.
Daniel Bolkunowicz, who appeared on behalf of the Racing Victoria stewards, said that the reporting of the incident was irrelevant to the seriousness of the crime.
Mr Thomas only came forward to report the incident after he was approached by Racing Victoria stewards to explain another incident involving Mr Thomas and Mr Hope, on February 6.
‘‘It’s an extreme example of threatening behaviour on a licensed premises and it cannot be tolerated,’’ Mr Bolkunowicz said.
Mr Inglis told the hearing that Mr Thomas was remorseful, embarrassed and that he’d been suffering from depression at the time of the incident.
He said that a good character witness, an early guilty plea and the fact horse training was the Thomas family’s sole source of income made disqualification a manifestly harsh punishment.
Victoria Police have since confiscated Mr Thomas’ firearm and suspended his license with the view to cancellation.
RAD board deputy chair Brian Forrest noted that Mr Thomas said he would not challenge the proposed decision of Victoria Police to cancel his firearms license.
Mr Forrest agreed that the disqualification or suspension of Mr Thomas’ horse trainers license was not warranted under the circumstances.
Mr Hope will face the RAD board at a later date in relation to the incident on February 6.