NRL match fixing scandal: key players want separate hearings
Brad Murray ... former Parramatta player. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Three alleged key players in rugby league's match fixing scandal will argue they should face separate hearings later this year, a court has heard.
The Director of Public Prosecutions was originally seeking to have rugby league identity John Elias, former Parramatta player Brad Murray, and Jai Ayoub, the son of Murray's manager Sam Ayoub, face a joint hearing.
The trio was allegedly involved in a betting plunge on the Cowboys to open the scoring by a penalty kick in their match against the Canterbury Bulldogs in August 2010.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Gary Rowe told Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday the application for a joint hearing was no longer sought because it would mean the case would be delayed as several witnesses start the NRL season.
Magistrate Greg Grogin said the court could make use of audio-visual links to help bring the case forward.
"The court process won't be halted ... because of a rugby league season," he said.
The court heard that the prosecution had now set down Murray's case to be heard with Ayoub, while Elias' matter would be heard separately.
George Elias, the lawyer representing John Elias and Ayoub, and Peter Mitchell, representing Murray, said they would make an application for all three matters to be heard separately.
George Elias will also make an application to stay the proceedings against John Elias and Ayoub.
Magistrate Grogin ordered they file that application by March 27, and the matter will return to court on May 6.
The magistrate said Elias' matter was likely to be ready first.
The prosecution case against Elias is that he "dishonestly structured a series of cash bets with TAB betting agencies at Rozelle and Haberfield in the total amount of $5100 in the expectation of securing winnings in the amount of $98,455", according to Supreme Court judge Elizabeth Fullerton, who overturned a 2011 decision by a Local Court magistrate to dismiss charges against Elias.
The betting plunge failed when Cowboys player Anthony Watts decided to "tap" the ball rather than attempting a penalty goal, the court has previously heard.
Murray, who was initially a prosecution witness, was arrested in February 2012 and charged with attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception, along with Jai Ayoub.
Justice Fullerton noted that the prosecution case was that Bulldogs player Ryan Tandy manipulated the game by giving away a penalty to the Cowboys early in the game.
Tandy is the only person in Australian history to be convicted of match fixing. He escaped prison but was fined $4000 for attempting to "gain financial advantage by deception". He was also found guilty of lying to the NSW Crime Commission.
Murray was the only accused in court on Wednesday, but he did not comment to awaiting media.