SOME biffo at the Ballina Racecourse stables between leading stable foreman Dan-iel Bowen and stablehand Robert Pilling resulted in a great finish for Bowen when he escaped conviction in the Ballina Local Court.
Bowen, 24, pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Pilling at 4pm on October 14 last year when an argument broke out between the two men while Mr Pilling was talking to jockeys.
Police said Bowen, the son of Ballina trainer DannyBowen, grabbed Mr Pilling in a headlock before punching him to the head about five times.
He was also accused of pushing Mr Pilling up against a wall causing his head to hit the wall.
Bowen, through his defence lawyer Vince Boss, denied punching Mr Pilling in the jaw when the victim fell to the ground.
“There are some issues in dispute, but he did land two punches on Mr Pilling,” Mr Boss said.
“Once he was on the ground Mr Bowen did not punch him any further.
“There had been ongoing friction between them. My client is the stable foreman and has about 40 staff. Mr Pilling has horses at the same stables and there has been an ongoing dispute which escalated.
“He made an allegation my client was responsible for killing a thoroughbred in recent times. Daniel Bowen does show a lot of care and concern for his horses, and when something like that is said it spreads rumours, and he lost it. He threw punches at Mr Pilling.”
Mr Boss said the incident was dealt with by the NSW Racing Association, with Bowen suspended from working at the stables for three months (for improper conduct). He said this had a significant impact on the stables and on Bowen’s income.
He successfully argued before Magistrate Kim Pogson not to convict his client because a criminal record would prevent him fulfilling his career in management.
He said Bowen had his sights set on working overseas in the Hong Kong racing industry.
Mr Boss said Bowen, in hindsight, acknowledged he acted inappropriately in resorting to violence, but in the heat of the moment there had been an explosion in the ongoing conflict.
Mr Boss said the injuries received by Mr Pilling had been minor.
He said his client became a stablehand at the age of 15, achieved a well-regarded position and was well respected in the horse industry by people such as Ray Hadley (well-known radio personality and racing horse owner), who kept expensive horses, some valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, at the stables. Mr Hadley supplied a reference to the court.
Mr Boss said the incident had been a steep learning curve for both men involved in how not to conduct their affairs, and for Bowen because it could impact on his career in what were unusual circumstances.
Mr Pilling had also taken out an apprehended violence order against his client.
Mr Pogson said the circumstances had not been unusual, but showed ‘a lack of self-restraint’. Although he did not know if there had been any provocation, he said violence did not solve the problem. He said Bowen must learn self-control.
Mr Pogson said that because of Bowen’s good record he would not convict him, placing him on a section 10 good behaviour bond for 12 months.