Veterinary inspectors waited four weeks to give a leading Irish racehorse trainer a list of steroids and medicine allegedly found in a cardboard box in his stables, a court has heard.
Philip Fenton has gone on trial on eight charges over treatments and remedies recorded following a search of his yard at Garryduff, South Lodge, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, on January 18 2012.
Among the substances allegedly seized was one kilo of the steroid Nitrotain in a paste form in a black tub, a 20ml bottle of a second performance-enhancing drug Ilium Stanabolic, a counterfeit medicine and drugs held without prescription.
Mr Fenton, 49, was at the hearing at Carrick-on-Suir District Court.
The trial heard the drugs were in a white cardboard box covered by a horse rug in an area described as the horse spa next to a medicine store.
The prosecution against Fenton was brought in the name of the Minister for Agriculture for infringements of rules on animal remedies.
Brendan Daly, an officer with the special investigations unit in the department, revealed he stored the cardboard box of drugs in a locker in his house after the raid.
“I was satisfied it was in a secure location. There was one key I was in possession of, which I have in my pocket,” Mr Daly said.
Mr Fenton was shown the box on the day of the search and some of the containers, the court heard.
The search ended shortly after the box was found as the lead investigator Noel Kelly, who was in the yard, had been informed his father-in-law had died.
No department-stamped exhibit sheet was filled out at the time, the court heard.
Mr Daly and Mr Kelly said they left the yard and immediately travelled to the offices of Mr Fenton’s vet, Martin O’Gorman, in Ballypatrick, Clonmel, Co Tipperary.
They told the court a secretary was completing prescription forms when they arrived. They seized the documents. The court heard the inspectors did not return to Mr Fenton with a list of the seized drugs until St Valentine’s Day.
John Walsh, senior counsel for Mr Fenton, said protocols were not followed in the search.
“I’m suggesting to you that this is totally unacceptable and you know it is totally unacceptable and you know it is a breach of protocols that you did not record what was found in an exhibit book,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Daly replied: “He (Mr Fenton) was made aware on the day (of the search). He did not raise any objection.”
The inspector said Mr Fenton had “ample opportunity” to check what was in the box on the day.
Mr Fenton has had 12 winners from 55 runners in the current Irish season – a highly regarded 22% strike rate.