Man avoids jail after threatening to kill racehorse

  • A man who threatened to kill a Group One winning racehorse after forgetting to put a bet on it has been given a suspended jail sentence and 240 hours of unpaid work.

    Twenty-six-year-old Andrew Rodgerson of Craiglands, Balderstone, appeared before Bolton Crown Court on Monday (4 January) after sending threats to the owners of Conduit.

    His own barrister described his actions as “desperately stupid”.

    Last summer Mr Rodgerson sent a series of texts and emails to Conduit’s owners, Ballymacoll Stud, saying if the horse ran in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July, the horse would die.

    He was handed a 34-week prison sentence, which was suspended for two years. He was also ordered to complete 240 hours unpaid work.

    Mr Rodgerson sent the threats after forgetting to place an accumulator bet that would have won £55,000 for the syndicate he worked for.

    He send a text to Peter Reynolds, managing director of Ballymacoll ten days before the race stating: “Dear Peter, we would just like to warn you, should Conduit run in the King George, then the horse will be killed.”

    He followed this with an email: “Dear Peter, I don’t believe you are taking the threat of death to Conduit very seriously. We want the horse removed from the King George this weekend. If you co-operate, the horse will live. There are people living in and around Newmarket who are ready and willing. There will also be people around at Ascot on Saturday.”

    But he was arrested two days before the race. He pleaded guilty to the threats at a hearing at the end of November.

    Increased security was provided to Conduit on his way to Ascot and also at the track.

    “The syndicate would tell him when and where to put money on and get the best odds. This was a clever series of bets and it required quite precise timing because the odds changed so rapidly,” said Joseph Hart, Mr Rodgerson’s barrister at the hearing.

    “He forgot and realised if Conduit won he would owe this syndicate more than 50,000 pounds. He was utterly terrified with the consequences of not paying the money back.

    “These were powerful men. He thought perhaps they would be people who would hurt him. So initially he lied to them that someone had taken the betting slip but then the syndicate said they would find him.

    “The panic continued and he committed this frankly unsophisticated and deeply stupid crime.”

    Judge Angela Nield said he had embarked on a “foolish escapade” and that his actions could have had a serious impact on the horseracing industry.

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