Mr Fenton, 49, of Garryduff, South Lodge, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, was fined €6,000 and told to pay €4,200 in costs and expenses when convicted yesterday in the district court. He had denied all charges.
He told the media after the hearing in Carrick that he would “consider” an appeal.
The Turf Club’s director of security, Chris Gordon, said the body would now “take appropriate steps” following the outcome of the criminal trial which was mounted by the Department of Agriculture.
Department investigative officer Brendan Daly told Carrick District Court that he and a colleague searched Mr Fenton’s premises on January 18 of 2012 and found a box “containing veterinary medicines” under a horse rug, in a “horse spa” close to Mr Fenton’s medicine store.
They returned to the yard on February 14, 2012, and interviewed Philip Fenton, who accepted responsibility for the products. Among them was 1kg of Nitrotain paste and a 25ml bottle of Illium Stanabolic, both anabolic steroids, as well as a number of prescription-only antibiotics for which there were no prescriptions. Mr Daly told the court that after the inspection and a visit to Mr Fenton’s vet’s office, he stored the products in a “secure lock-up” at his home until they interviewed the trainer in February.
Defence barrister Johnny Walshe put it to Mr Daly that it was “totally unacceptable practice” that the items weren’t labelled on the day by the inspectors, but Mr Daly said he had “no doubt” about what was in the box found at the yard.
“Mr Fenton was aware of what was seized on the day and he confirmed that in the interview.” Another investigative officer with the department, Noel Kelly, said he searched the trainer’s medicine store and found anabolic steroids.
Under cross-examination from Mr Walshe, the witness said it was deemed unnecessary to obtain a search warrant as they never had any intention of searching the trainer’s actual home.
An application by Mr Walshe to have the case dismissed on the basis that a search warrant should have been obtained and that Mr Fenton’s rights were “breached” because he wasn’t handed a list of the items found on the day of the inspection, and because the products were stored at one of the inspectors’ homes, was dismissed by Judge Timothy Lucey.
The judge agreed there was some “sloppiness” in the State’s procedures, but the items seized were the same items analysed and found to be unlicensed.
The charges against Philip Fenton were first mentioned in court late last year but only came into the public domain earlier this year, weeks before the Cheltenham festival in which the trainer had a number of runners.
The British Horseracing Authority allowed Mr Fenton run his horses after an investigation which included a visit to his yard and drug testing, which proved negative. Both his star performers, Last Instalment and Dunguib, performed disappointingly and were retired.
One of the charges dating back to 2012 related to the alleged illegal possession of Nitrotain, a medicine which contains the anabolic steroid ethylestranol, reported to improve the muscle mass, strength and stamina of horses. Another charge related to the alleged illegal possession of Ilium Stanabolic. This medicine contains the anabolic steroid Stanozolol, a prohibited substance.
Other charges were in relation to the alleged possession of prescription-only medicines for horses, Marbocyl 10%, Betamoz LA, Neomycin Penicillin, and Engemycin 10%, when there were no vet’s prescriptions.