Friday, October 7, 2011

Magistrate finds 'substantial contact' between Tandy, plunge participants

Chris Barrett | SMH | October 7, 2011

RYAN TANDY'S mobile phone was running hot in the days before Canterbury's trip to Townsville last year, and in the hours after it.

Phone records compiled by Senior Constable Eric Burgess, an intelligence officer with the casino and racing investigation unit of the NSW police, reveal an intricate web of calls and text messages between people who placed wagers on the Cowboys to score first with a penalty goal. There were also calls between three of those who placed wagers and Tandy, who played in the match but was not found to have made a bet.

Magistrate Janet Wahlquist read out a list of names and the phone contacts between them while announcing her decision in the Tandy hearing at Downing Centre Local Court yesterday. Among them were Tandy's manager, Sam Ayoub; former first-graders John Elias and Hassan Saleh; Ayoub's son Jai; Jai's former schoolmate and under-age star Brad Murray; Tandy's friend, Michael Cook; Tandy's real estate agent, Greg Tait; and Shontelle Mankin, the New Zealand woman who notoriously pushed her pram into an Auckland TAB and placed a bet the day before the August 21 game.
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All except Tandy placed bets on the Cowboys to open the scoring with two points, as did many others in what was a total investment of $31,614.06 on the exotic option.

Tandy, the court heard, was using his phone until after 3am on the morning after the match. His phone and SMS use, the police documents said, included contact with Sam Ayoub, Cook and Saleh, but when the records of those three were analysed the connections began to widen. The call records were gathered from when betting on the match opened on August 13 until the aftermath of the contest at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

''I am satisfied from this evidence that there was substantial contact between Mr Tandy and three of the people who placed substantial bets on the Cowboys goal penalty option and that there is evidence of further contact between those three people and others who placed substantial bets on that option,'' Wahlquist said before finding Tandy guilty yesterday.

''There is further evidence of contact … with others who placed significant bets set out in the chart of Mr Burgess I won't further detail.''

Wahlquist also accepted the police evidence that Tandy, using the same phone, engaged in contact with jockey manager John Schell, who gave evidence by statement that the 30-year-old owed him $30,070 in gambling debt.

Ayoub, who has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the plunge, is another central player in the phone records included by the magistrate in her judgment statement. Her statement said the player agent had bet $990 on the Cowboys option and had contact before and after the match with several people who also had bets: Townsville bar owner Joel Solinas (who bet $400), Murray ($1000), Ayoub's son Jai ($540) and Elias ($5500), who also faces charges.

''The chart of all the people who placed bets shows Mr Ayoub as being in telephone contact with a number of them,'' Wahlquist said.

Saleh, meanwhile, was found to have bet $400 on the option, and in turn engaged in phone contact with Tait ($1000), the fourth person charged with attempting to dishonestly obtain financial advantage.

The phone records also showed that Saleh, the former NRL winger and nightclub manager, had contact with Cook ($3000), Elias and two others: Marc Marano ($492) and Joseph Recep ($1000). Cook, a friend of Tandy's, according to the judgment statement, exchanged calls and text messages with Elias, Saleh, Tait, Recep, as well as Mankin ($2400) and a Clayton Sellings ($2000).

''Mr Tandy gave evidence that he regularly rang Sam Ayoub and had done since 2003,'' Wahlquist said. ''Sam Ayoub was his manager. He said Hassan Saleh was a friend and he was in regular contact with him. Michael Cook was also a friend and he was in regular contact with him.''

She said she was ''satisfied beyond reasonable doubt'' that the phone number in the police charts was Tandy's at the time.

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