Wed, Aug 21, 9:23am by Kevin Pitstock
The Police Integrity Commission’s investigation into Australia’s most flamboyant gambler, Stephen Fletcher, involves links to a homicide detective in New South Wales. As reported in the Fairfax Media, investigators are trying to determine whether several members of the NSW Police Force had betting patterns which mirrored those of Stephen Fletcher over a key stretch during 2012.
The PIC recently seized the Betfair account of a homicide squad officer, along with several betting accounts used by Stephen Fletcher. Mr Fletcher is a prominent professional horse bettor and is known to make wagers for multiple wealthy Australians.
The investigation centres on the gambler’s activities over a six-week period during early 2012, when he made 12 wagers in excess of $200,000 and ended up winning $70,000 on the punts. Investigators believe a link might exist between Fletcher and a Melbourne jockey, whose name remains anonymous, though the jockey is said to have a connection with Ben Joyner, who is known to have contacts with Fletcher.
The jockey might be the pivotal informant, but other names could draw interest from the public. As the investigation widens, it is speculated the records will reveal a wide network of prominent gamblers. The case could reveal the underside of the horse racing industry, because multiple sources have claimed Stephen Fletcher spruiks his betting business by stating he has a wide network of informers–even jockeys.
In a high profile 2011 case, the NSW Racing Stewards tried to ban Mr Fletcher from gambling in their state, after the stewards uncovered what they believed to be evidence that jockey Bobby El-Issa was providing information to the pro gambler about races he couldn’t win. At the time, Fletcher was able to fight off the attempts to ban him.
The possible list of gambling clients is huge. Stephen Fletcher is known to maintain friendships in both the business community and legal world. He also is thought to have contacts with several top figures in Australian racing, the AFL, and the NRL. None of these figures are known to have been investigated yet, but a convicted criminal’s links to a jockey might be the key evidence in the investigation.
Text messages sent by Ben Joyner, an acquaintance of Stephen Fletcher’s and possibly more, could be pivotal in the PIC investigation. Mr Joyner is a minor figure in the world of horse racing, a former owner of a casino in Vanuatu, and a convicted criminal. Among text messages uncovered by the Police Integrity Commission’s investigators, Mr Joyner states that he leaked information from jockeys to Mr Fletcher. Both Stephen Fletcher and Ben Joyner have admitted they have had private business dealings, back when Joyner still owned a Vanuatu-based casino operation in 2012, but the degree of their connection is still not fully known.
Ben Joyner’s texts state he turned over information to a number of different Sydney-based individuals about All Aged Stakes race in 2013–the very race which touched off the More Joyous inquiries and media circus associated with Gai Waterhouse and the horse she trained (More Joyous). Investigators found that Joyner texted a punter in Melbourne that More Joyous would not be able to win the All Aged Stakes race. He was also former business partners with a jockey who may have provided Joyner with inside information, though police have been careful not to release the jockey’s name, for they believe he had no idea about Joyner’s gambling activities.
What has been revealed about the inquiries so far paint a picture of an interconnected racing world, where race competitors, wealthy amateur sports punters, and professional gamblers co-mingle. Whether the investigations will prove these interactions are unhealthy or illegal are questions for the future. If recent news from the investigation is any indication, the horse racing industry in Australia could receive another black eye.