Stoush escalates as man is arrested

BRONWYN TORRIE
Last updated 12:00 28/01/2011

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The stoush between Palmerston North greyhound racing enthusiasts has escalated with a former official arrested and charged for allegedly stealing equipment.

Police were called to the Pioneer Highway track last week to escort Ashoka Pandey, the former Manawatu Greyhound Racing Club secretary/manager, and two other men off the property.

The Manawatu Standard understands the three men allegedly went to the track to take the water truck, which is necessary for race meetings.

Police confirmed an arrest was made earlier this week for the theft of the vehicle.

"As a result of a complaint received from Greyhound Racing New Zealand Limited there's been a police investigation and a 54-year-old Palmerston North man has been arrested and charged with the theft of a motor vehicle," Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan said.

The truck, stolen between January 21 and 24, was still missing, he said.

Mr Pandey yesterday said he had arranged for the truck to be removed because it belonged to the now-defunct club.

"I arranged to have that water truck taken and the reason I did that was because the truck belongs to us and we need to raise money to take court action against Greyhound Racing New Zealand."

He would not comment further.

The club was disaffiliated from its governing body in March last year after it was deemed insolvent.

Mr Sheridan confirmed police received other complaints against individuals involved with the club.

"Our role is to assess criminal liability.

"We've received lots and lots [of complaints] that don't fit in the threshold of police investigation."

Greyhound Racing New Zealand general manager Jim Leach confirmed the man who was arrested and due to appear in Palmerston North District Court next week for allegedly stealing the truck was Mr Pandey.

There was some confusion over who owns the stolen truck, Mr Leach said.

"As far as we were concerned we understood that the club owned the water truck but there are various stories running around about who owns it."

The national governing body stepped in to run the weekly Monday race meetings in mid-2010 after the club was evicted from the track for failing to pay 18 months' rent.

Mr Leach said the latest incident would not stop scheduled race meetings as a water truck would be hired.

He hoped a new club would be formed in the near future.

"When these matters have been cleared up and the residue of the old club is out of the way, it's probably unreasonable to ask someone to put their hand up and form a club at the moment."

Mr Leach understood Mr Pandey had been trespassed from the Manawatu Harness Racing Club facility, which houses the greyhound tack, earlier this month.

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The harness racing club had been advised by its lawyer not to comment.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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