An undercover policeman yesterday described a dramatic late-night encounter with Miles Rodgers, the man accused of orchestrating a race-fixing scam. Robert Stirling told the Old Bailey that he had himself ended up being followed by Rodgers after tailing him through "pitch black" country lanes near Newmarket.
Rodgers is one of six men, including Kieren Fallon and two other jockeys, who deny charges of conspiracy to defraud customers of the betting exchange Betfair.
Surveillance officers observed Rodgers leaving a Harrogate hotel on the afternoon of 26 May, 2004, along with two other defendants, Shaun Lynch and Philip Sherkle, and a fourth man. Late that evening all four were observed at a hotel in Newmarket, and filmed shortly before 1am heading towards Rodgers's Mercedes in the car park.
Driving an unmarked vehicle, Stirling followed the Mercedes towards Cowlinge, where Fallon had his home. He observed Rodgers divert into a lane, only to reverse towards the turn as Stirling drove by. The Mercedes was now behind him. Stirling in turn pulled into a farm track, and parked. He told the jury that the Mercedes followed him, drawing up behind him, its lights on full beam. After "60 seconds at most", the Mercedes backed away.
Returning towards Newmarket, Stirling saw a colleague and stopped to describe what had happened. As he did so, the Mercedes angled alongside, moving slowly. He found himself looking at Rodgers in the driving seat, gestured that he wished to move on, and was allowed to do so. But Rodgers then performed a three-point turn, and followed Stirling at a distance of no more than 100 yards.
Entering the town, Stirling noticed traffic police and provoked their attention by accelerating over a mini-roundabout. He asked the uniformed officers to perform a breath-test and watched as Rodgers drove slowly by, in both directions.
Earlier, another surveillance officer had been challenged over his observations of the only known encounter between Rodgers and Fallon, in the car park at Leicester racecourse eight days earlier. Mark Lowe had reported that Shaun Lynch got into Rodgers's car at 8.46pm, and that they were joined by two males 14 minutes later. One he estimated at 5ft 4in, the other at 6ft; at any event, he conceded that one had been "considerably taller" than the other.
But Christopher Sallon QC, representing Shaun Lynch, said that these men were Seb Sanders and Darryll Holland, 5ft 3in and 5ft 4in respectively. He also claimed that these two jockeys had been seen in conversation with his client, and as they started towards the car were joined by a fourth man, who was Fallon. Lynch had entered the passenger seat only as the three jockeys got in behind. Lowe reiterated that he had seen two men, not four. The surveillance log records that the car then made a nine-minute journey to an airfield, where Rodgers left the jockeys.
John Kelsey-Fry QC, representing Fallon, also noted that Shaun Lynch could not possibly have joined Rodgers in the vehicle, as the log suggested, at 8.46pm. A mobile call had been registered between the pair at 8.49pm, at which time they were supposedly seated alongside each other.
The case continues today.