Police are investigating if the 1984 cold case murder of horse trainer George Brown was to do with a Fine Cotton-style ring-in effort at a Brisbane racetrack.
Police are investigating if the 1984 cold case murder of horse trainer George Brown was to do with a Fine Cotton-style ring-in effort at a Brisbane racetrack.

Trainer may have been killed over horse ‘ringer’ scam

A $1 million reward has unearthed new information that Sydney horse trainer George Brown could have been brutally murdered in 1984 because he refused to be part of a "ring-in" betting coup.

Detectives are now more certain Brown's death is linked to the racing industry and most likely his reluctance to be involved in substituting a "ring-in" at a race meeting in Brisbane a month before his death.

"That is a strong line of inquiry, although not the only one,'' said Detective Sergeant Steven Morgan of the NSW Police unsolved homicide unit.

 

Horse trainer George Brown was found murdered in bushland at Bulli Tops in 1984.
Horse trainer George Brown was found murdered in bushland at Bulli Tops in 1984.

 

Jean O'Leary, sister of murdered horse trainer George Brown. Picture: Adam Head
Jean O'Leary, sister of murdered horse trainer George Brown. Picture: Adam Head

 

Police have interviewed several people who have come forward since the reward was offered in April last year.

"After the reward quite a few people have contacted us, some have been discounted but there are a few we believe have information that is credible and worth further investigation,'' Sergeant Morgan said.

"Some have given statements, while others have spoken to us but don't want to make a formal statement for a variety of reasons, including possibly fear or believe what they have heard is purely rumour."

The trainer's body was found in a burnt-out car at Bulli, south of Sydney, on April 3, 1984. His legs had been broken, his arms torn from their sockets and his skull fractured.

 

The burnt out Ford Falcon that George Brown was found inside at Bulli Tops on April 2, 1984.
The burnt out Ford Falcon that George Brown was found inside at Bulli Tops on April 2, 1984.

 

The week before it is believed Brown refused to substitute a faster filly for a poorly performed horse called Risley in a race at Doomben. The heavily backed Risley came second last, costing those who had plunged on her a small fortune.

Rumours have circulated for years that legendary Sydney bookmaker Bill Waterhouse was involved in organising to have Brown roughed up for failing to substitute Risley. It's a claim that has been denied by the Waterhouse family.

Crime syndicates, including Sydney's Mr Big, George Freeman, were heavily involved in race fixing at the time.

Four months after Brown's murder the infamous Fine Cotton affair occurred, in which stewards uncovered the substituting of horse Bold Personality for the inferior Fine Cotton. It was backed in from $34 to just over $3.50.

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Originally published as Trainer may have been killed over horse 'ringer' scam: Police


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