Champion trainer on horse cruelty charges

Kaitlyn Offer
Horse trainer Darren Weir (left) has been charged with animal cruelty and weapons offences

A list of criminal charges against Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Darren Weir is damning, including that he repeatedly tortured, abused, overworked and terrified thoroughbred horses.

Victoria Police on Wednesday slapped the 49-year-old with a series of animal cruelty and firearm offences.

It's the latest move in a shocking fall from grace for Weir, whose Ballarat and Warrnambool properties were raided in January, when police allegedly found illegal items including electrical devices known as jiggers suspected of being used to shock horses.

There was also a gun, police said.

Weir was subsequently banned for four years by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board panel for possessing the jiggers and for conduct prejudicial to the image of racing. He has since sold his stables and owners have been forced to find a new trainer for their horses.

Weir faces nine charges including conspiracy to defraud Racing Victoria stewards, possessing an unregistered gun and using a controlled weapon without an excuse.

He is also charged with multiple counts of engaging in torturing, abusing, overworking and terrifying a thoroughbred race horse; and causing unreasonable pain or suffering to a thoroughbred race horse.

Fellow trainer Jarrod McLean, 38 from Yangery, is facing 16 charges including conduct that corrupts betting outcomes, animal cruelty and possessing cocaine.

Tyson Kermond, 27 from Warrnambool, is charged with six animal cruelty offences and one count of conspiracy to defraud Racing Victoria.

William Hernan, 31 from Warrnambool, is charged with corrupt conduct.

All four are due to face Melbourne Magistrates court on October 23.

McLean, Kermond and Hernan must face a Racing Victoria inquiry on Thursday.

"Stewards have directed a licensed trainer and two registered stable employees to attend inquiries and answer questions in relation to the charges," RV said in a statement.

Weir will have to face the inquiry at a later date.

McLean's Yangery stables and former Weir employee Kermond were also targeted during the January raids when officers allegdly found jiggers and a firearm in Weir's bedroom.

Weir trained a Commonwealth record number of winners last season from a stable described as an industry juggernaut.

It was a 100/1 chance that put him on the international map when Prince Of Penzance, ridden by Michelle Payne, won the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

Racing Victoria boss Giles Thompson said it was the authority's responsibility to protect the integrity of the sport as he noted the police charges.

"These are serious charges and the nature of the alleged conduct described within the charges is distressing to all within the racing industry, as well as the general community," he said in a statement.

"Upon the issuing of charges, our stewards have immediately opened inquiries and ordered three persons to attend tomorrow afternoon to answer questions in relation to the charges.

"Those inquiries will dictate our next steps."