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Champion trainer Darren Weir charged with animal cruelty and conspiracy to defraud

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The charges follow a number of raids on properties in Miners Rest and Warrnambool on January 30, during which police seized what they believed to be conducted energy devices known in the industry as “jiggers”.

Weir was disqualified from training for four years in February after pleading no contest to charges of possession of jiggers, which were found in the police raids on his stables and house.

Those charges under the Rules of Racing related to possessing jiggers only (which is not itself a crime), and the Tribunal made no findings of fact owing to Weir’s plea.

Three others were also charged by police on Wednesday.

A 38-year-old Yangery man and a 27-year-old Warrnambool man were both charged with conspiracy to defraud Racing Victoria stewards, and animal cruelty offences.

The 38-year-old was also charged with use of corrupt conduct information, five counts of using information to corrupt a betting outcome and possessing cocaine.

A 31-year-old Warrnambool man has been charged with one count the use of corrupt conduct information.

All four will appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on October 23.

Racing Victoria confirmed it had been advised by Victoria Police’s sporting integrity intelligence unit that charges had been laid against four people in relation to the investigation into the activities of licensed or registered persons in the Warrnambool and Ballarat areas.

“Racing Victoria stewards are giving these matters careful consideration and will provide a further update in due course,” a spokesman said.

Darren Weir and Michelle Payne after Prince of Penzance won the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

Darren Weir and Michelle Payne after Prince of Penzance won the 2015 Melbourne Cup.Credit:Justin McManus

Police began looking into Weir’s alleged malpractice in August last year when Racing Victoria shared its evidence of his alleged wrongdoing.

Born in Victoria’s Mallee district and raised on a farm, Weir left school at 15 and had a training licence by age 25 after working for other established trainers.

Weir was one of the country’s leading trainers: his horses won more than $148 million and he took home the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

Following the January raids, thousands of horse owners were left in limbo, scrambling to find a trainer, stable or even a paddock to house their prized investments.

Anyone with information about illegal activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

With Anthony Colangelo, Erin Pearson

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