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Three jailed after £5m horse racing fraud

John 'Jock' McCracken, from Brighton and Matthew Thole, a company director from Cardiff Credit: Sussex Police
John Brice from Hove. Credit: Sussex Police

Three men including two from Sussex have been been sentenced today after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud through a horse race betting brochure investment fraud. They and three others previously convicted are thought to have obtained up to £5m from unsuspecting investors over six years.

John 'Jock' McCracken, 47, unemployed, of Whitehawk Road, Brighton; Matthew Thole, 40, a company director, of Cefn Mably Park, Michaelston-y-Fedw, Cardiff; and John Brice, 40, self-employed, of Sandringham Drive, Hove, were convicted after a two-week trial at Lewes Crown Court.

Today, McCracken and Thole were each sentenced by Judge Hayward to four years imprisonment, and Brice was sentenced to five years.

They were found guilty of, between 30 April 2003 and 13 February 2008, conspiring with each other and with Paul Spicer, Gregory Spicer and Lee O'Donnell and with others, to defraud prospective and actual participants in various purported betting services and purported investment services.

The two Spicers and O'Donnell, all from Brighton and Hove, were convicted of the same conspiracy to defraud at Lewes Crown Court and sentenced to a total of 15 and a half years imprisonment on 29 June 2010.


Racecourse delays opening after poor weather

Brighton Racecourse has been forced to delay the start to its flat racing season - due to the severe weather.

Course managers said poor grass growth following the prolonged wet and cold weather has meant its first three meetings of the year on April 25, May 2 and May 7 have all had to be relocated.

We have been closely monitoring the track throughout the closed period and really it is case of severe weather having had quite an effect on a very exposed surface.

This has meant the grass just hasn’t grown or recovered from last season and we would prefer not to race on it at the moment.

– Ed Arkell, course clerk

Extra ground work, including spraying for various pest infestations recently prevalent in Sussex, will now take place before racing begins on May 21.

The cancelled meetings will instead take place at Lingfield, Chepstow and Yarmouth respectively.

Newbury racecourse: the going is good

Officials draw back the protective covers on the racecourse Credit: ITV News Meridian

Racing will go ahead at Newbury today, despite the bad weather.

The track passed an early morning inspection after officials covered the entire length of the track with frost sheets a few days ago to protect it from temperatures which fell to minus 3 overnight.

80 extra ground staff were bought in to help.

The first race will go ahead as planned at 12:50


Racing at Fontwell is on after inspection

The Boxing Day meeting at Fontwell is on after an inspection this morning. Going will be heavy. The forecast is dry this morning, with rain in the afternoon. Travel advice below.

A27 Eastbound closed between A285 Portfield Roundabout (Sainsbury's/John Lewis turning) to the Tangmere Roundabout. Alternative route is to take the Westhampnett turning from Portfield Roundabout, then follow directions for Petworth. At T junction, follow signs for Worthing A27.

Course inspection at Fontwell Park

Fontwell's Boxing Day race card hangs in the balance Credit: Chris Ison/PA Archive/Press Association Image

Today's racing card at Fontwell Park is in the balance until the course has been checked at 8am. A big crowd is expected at the Sussex course with all the hospitality packages sold out. More info can be found at

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