IN THE NEWS: Racing Integrity Unit under pressure to act on greyhound live-baiting

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IN THE NEWS: On DEC 15, 2017

A former employee of top greyhound trainer Brendon Cole said he's ashamed of his time spent working there.

He also thinks the Racing Integrity Unit should be carrying out a parallel investigation, alongside the SPCA, rather than waiting.

Newshub agreed to conceal his identity, but the man said he spent two-and-a-half years working at Mr Cole's property.

During this time, he said the illegal practice of live-baiting of greyhounds happened about three times a week.

"It's disgusting what went on," he said. "I'm not proud of it, of witnessing it and that sort of stuff.

"I'm pretty ashamed to say I actually worked there."

Mr Cole is being investigated by the SPCA, after photos emerged that appear to show him attaching an animal to a lure on a training track.

The former worker said Mr Cole would use rabbits, chickens and possums as live bait.

"Seeing a live animal being mauled by a dog... sometimes, they wouldn't be killed," he said.

"People were being told to 'hush hush' about it, not mention it.

"If anyone turned up at the property, things would stop."

Newshub has also learned Mr Cole has been investigated three times by various bodies over live-baiting.

The first was in the early 2000s, after a complaint about a live rabbit being dragged on a length of rope.

Another started in 2015, after several witnesses spoke to the investigative body - the Racing Integrity Unit.

And now Mr Cole is being investigated over a series of photos, which it's claimed could show live-baiting.

The Racing Integrity Unit said the 2015 allegations involved what it called an "intensive investigation", but no evidence was found.

But Newshub understands at least one of the complainants was never asked to provide the RIU with a signed statement of what he saw.

An integrity unit investigator called him. After that, he said he heard nothing further.

Our source said the Racing Integrity Unit should act now.

"All these investigations need to be thoroughly investigated," he said. "Not put on the backburner and investigated slowly."

Racing Integrity Unit general manager Mike Godber said it "makes sense" to let the SPCA investigate first.

"It was agreed with the SPCA that, as they were the lead agency under the Animal Welfare Act, their investigation would be completed first," he said.

The industry has previously told Newshub any complaints would be thoroughly investigated - and they've emphasised Cole is innocent until proven guilty.

If you have further information, contact the SPCA confidentially on (09) 256 7300 or Michael Morrah ([email protected])

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