AN ULTRASONIC gun was used to ''nobble'' the leading horse in a race

at Royal Ascot, a court was told yesterday.

The gun was developed by car dealer James Laming using information

taken from the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, defence counsel Mr Jonathan

Goldberg, QC, said at Southwark Crown Court.

It was used just once when it caused the second favourite in the King

George V race, Ile de Chypre, to throw jockey Greville Starkey when he

was three lengths clear during the race in June, 1988. The gun emitted a

high frequency noise, undetectable to humans but which terrified


Mr Goldberg said the effect on a passing racehorse would be

''equivalent in human terms to a hideous, ear-piercing shriek.'' The

jury watched a video showing Ile de Chypre passing the furlong post and

veering sharply to the left, throwing its jockey.

The court was hearing a ''remarkable'' defence case in which Mr

Laming, 49, of Peckham, London, denies conspiracy to supply cocaine as

part of a #15m Peruvian drugs ring.

Mr Goldberg said Mr Laming was involved in the racehorse 'nobbling'

and betting operation with a Mr Renee Black, who was involved in the

cocaine plot. Mr Laming knew nothing of the drugs dealing, said Mr


Mr Black saw the gun as a way of ''laundering'' his cocaine profits by

betting, and gave #10,000 to fund its development, Mr Goldberg said.

The racing conspiracy formed the centre of Mr Laming's defence and was

in itself ''a very serious fraud for which he can still be prosecuted

and convicted on his own testament.''

Mr Laming told the court the gun was used at Royal Ascot as a test

run, although he understood Mr Black may have bet on the race.

The accused's brother, Robert, pulled the trigger as he stood at the

rail when the leading horses passed. Mr Laming then pointed out the

trigger and said: ''Just a touch on that for a fraction of a second and

I should imagine that the horse feels like he has got a hornet or wasp

in his ear.''

Afterwards, it was agreed the gun could not be used for some time at

another top class race, and one with a lower profile would need to be

chosen to avoid suspicion. Lingfield was chosen, but Mr Laming was

arrested hours before the gun could be used.

Mr Laming said Mr Black, who had indicated he was willing to stake

#100,000 on bets for the conspiracy, was ''very enthusiastic'' about the


Asked how he developed the knowledge to invent the gun, Mr Laming

said: ''All the information on ultrasonics came from Encyclopaedia


Mr Laming appears with two other accused, Mr Patrick Fraser, 38, of

Catford, London, and Mr Martin Cox, 31, of Chessington, Surrey. Mr Cox

and Mr Laming both deny conspiracy to supply cocaine between January 1,

1987 and August 15, 1988. Mr Fraser and Mr Laming both deny conspiracy

to supply cocaine between June 1, 1988 and August 15, 1988. Mr Laming

also denies possessing 501 grammes of cocaine worth #100,000.

Mr Goldberg said that although the three accused had entered into a

serious criminal conspiracy with Mr Black, ''it had nothing whatsoever

to do with drugs.

''It was a conspiracy to undermine the entire system of racecourse

betting and bookmaking in this country by the use of a device which I am

now going to show you -- a technically brilliant ultrasonic gun,'' Mr

Goldberg said.

He then held up a large pair of binoculars attached to a leather

binoculars case. ''It looks like an ordinary pair of black racing

binoculars. But take off the lens caps and you see what looks like the

backside of a jet engine.

He said the lenses had been removed and replaced by two high-power

transducers which were basically a pair of loudspeakers of ''very high

power indeed.''

The money would be won by ''laying off'' a favourite or second

favourite in a race. This means betting against the winning horse. The

accused were in a unique position to ensure that the horse lost, Mr

Goldberg said.

Jockey Mr Starkey, 49, of Newmarket, Suffolk, said he had ridden Ile

de Chypre many times and he was a ''very good horse.'' The horse had

been ''travelling smoothly'' during the race and he believed he would

have won easily.

The case began on October 18, and is expected to go on through most of

November. The hearing was adjourned until today to allow prosecution

experts to inspect the gun.

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