| 8.8°C Dublin

Armed gardai 'kept watch on Labaik's passport' as he raced at Punchestown

Close

Drug dealer John Boylan

Drug dealer John Boylan

Collins

Drug dealer John Boylan

Armed gardai were sent to a race meeting at Punchestown to ensure a passport for a horse which had been seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau was handed back after it was allowed to run, a court has heard.

There were also fears that Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott could have come under pressure at the racecourse from a criminal gang over the horse.

The CAB is in the High Court to try to seize Labaik, who stunned the racing world when he won the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2017, alleging that he was bought for €28,000 by convicted Clondalkin drug dealer John Boylan with the proceeds of crime.

The CAB is also out to seize a bank account with winnings nearing €80,000, a mobile home, a house in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, and a Mercedes car from Boylan.

Boylan, meanwhile, has taken a counter-claim for loss of earnings from the horse after he was subsequently run at Punchestown while frozen as an asset by the CAB and suffered an alleged career-ending injury.

In court yesterday, Ms Justice Carmel Stewart heard in cross examination of CAB chief officer Chief Superintendent Pat Clavin that Labaik's passport was seized after his Cheltenham win when the bureau investigated his ownership.

The horse was being trained by Gordon Elliott, who has no involvement in crime.

Seizure

Boylan has a 90pc share in Labaik, while Elliott is said to have a 5pc share. Bloodstock agent Aidan O'Ryan, who has no involvement in crime, owns the remaining 5pc.

Chief Supt Clavin said the CAB was satisfied to have Labaik's passport in its possession and to leave the horse in the care of Gordon Elliott who had conveyed his wish after the seizure of the passport that Labaik be allowed to race at Punchestown.

He said he was in agreement with the decision to let it race.

"Great care must be taken not to damage the reputation of people who are parties but not part respondents to the proceedings," said Chief Supt Clavin.

"I made the decision not to seek receivership as the horse was in the care and custody of Gordon Elliott.

"There is no more difficult an asset to care for than a livestock or bloodstock animal.

"I could not see any legitimate reason to refuse Mr Elliott to run the horse in the race and I decided I had no reason to do that.

"It was my decision to allow the passport to be at the racecourse at all times under the supervision of members of An Garda Siochana.

"I might have been criticised and, worse, I might have been the subject of litigation if I made the decision not to allow the passport to be at the track.

"I feared the potential that Mr Elliott would come under pressure from the criminal gang. I had mitigated that risk by having armed members of An Garda Siochana at the racecourse."

Boylan has argued that he would not have run Labaik at Punchestown if he had control of him.

The case was adjourned until today.