Part of the prosecution's case against trainer Philip Fenton, who stands accused of possession of unlicensed animal remedies, is that he "accepts" he was in breach of criminal law when a Department of Agriculture inspection took place at his yard, a court has heard.
The contention was made during legal submissions yesterday in the case being taken by the Minister for Agriculture and Food against Mr Fenton in relation to the regulations under which the trainer is being prosecuted.
This was the sixth time the case against Philip Fenton (49) of Garryduff, South Lodge, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, came up at Carrick District Court.
It will arise for a seventh time next Tuesday at Clonmel District Court when Judge Terence Finn will give his judgment on the legal issues.
The trainer's barrister, Randal Hill, argued that the six charges against Mr Fenton related to alleged breaches of regulations introduced in July of 2012.
Those regulations, which amended legislation dating back to 2007 and 2009, should only have been used prospectively, Mr Hill said, to prosecute offences alleged to have occurred after July of 2012 and not offences allegedly committed by Mr Fenton the previous January.
The only power the Minister had to prosecute Philip Fenton for January 2012 was under the previous regulations, he said. Otherwise, the application of the regulations would be “retrospective or retroactive”.
In reply, prosecuting senior counsel Seán Gillane said there was an attempt being made “effectively to confer an immunity from prosecution” on Mr Fenton in circumstances which were misconceived.
“It appears common case that, undoubtedly, if the facts are established on January 18th, 2012, Mr Fenton committed acts that were contrary to the criminal law of the land. The case against him is that he accepts that.”
Amending the law, as happened with the animal remedy regulations in July of 2012, was a “day in, day out, feature of the law”, he said. “No one on this side of the house is seeking to suggest that Mr Fenton could ever be criminally liable for something that wasn’t a criminal offence on January 18th, 2012.”
The prosecution has been mounted by the Department of Agriculture and Food while the
British Horseracing Authority
have no official role in the case but have been observing since the case first emerged six months ago.
Among the charges against Mr Fenton are allegations that he was illegally in possession of Nitrotain, which contains the anabolic steroid ethylestranol and is reported to improve the muscle mass, strength and stamina of horses. Other charges regard the alleged possession of Ilium Stanabolic which contains the anabolic steroid stanozolol.
Four of the charges allege that Mr Fenton had possession of prescription-only medicines for horses, without having any vet’s prescriptions for the medication, when the inspection took place in January 2012.