Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Darren Weir has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges, but has escaped conviction for the offences.
The incidents took place back in 2018 alongside assistant Jarrod McLean and stable employee Tyson Kermond, with all three man pleading guilty in Warrnambool Court on Wednesday to three counts of animal cruelty.
It is alleged that Weir used an electric jigger on three of his horses Red Cardinal, Yogi, and Tosen Basil, and despite initially pleading not guilty back in 2020, the men have now changed their pleas.
CCTV footage was shown in the court of Weir using a jigger on the horses and the charges had been asked to be re-worded from ‘torture’ to ‘abuse’ by Weir’s attorney.
Both men at the forefront of the animal cruelty charges – Weir and McLean – have escaped conviction but have been fined $36,000 each, while stablehand Kermond will be forced to pay $10,000 to the RSPCA.
Weir is also pleading guilty to a separate firearms charge, while McLean has admitted to possession of cocaine. A number of other charges have been withdrawn.
Judge Franz Holzer said the men were of good character but made an ‘appalling mistake’, and believes their time spent away from racing for the past four years has been a sufficient punishment.
The former trainer, who helped guide $101 shot Prince Of Penzance to victory in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, was banned from the sport by Racing Victoria back in 2019.
Weir’s suspension was set to finish in February 2023, although it is uncertain what impact the criminal charges of animal cruelty will have on his future in racing.