John McCracken, the Brighton punter and tipster who was effectively warned off for life in 2004 for refusing to co-operate with a Jockey Club race-fixing investigation, was on Wednesday among three men charged by Sussex police with conspiracy to defraud more than £5 million in relation to alleged betting scams.
McCracken, 45, who is unemployed, will appear on bail at Brigh ton Magistrates Court on Friday, June 29, along with Matthew Thole, 39, a company director and racing tipster from Cardiff, and self-employed John Brice, 39, of Hove.
They are all charged that between April 30, 2003 and February 13 , 2008, they conspired with each other and with Paul Spicer, Greg Spicer and Lee O'Donnell and others, to defraud prospective and actual participants in various purported betting services and purported investment services by making false claims in relation to the betting services, making false claims in relation to the investment services, and seeking and receiving payments in relation to those services referred to.
The charges follow a nine-month investigation by the major fraud unit of Sussex Police and have been issued on the authority of the Crown Prosecution Service. It is alleged that more than £5m was obtained by the defendants as a result of their convincing hundreds of individuals across the UK to invest in non-existent betting brochure schemes.
All three men had been on police bail since their arrests last year. Thole and Brice were charged on Tuesday and McCracken was charged when answering bail on Wednesday. A fourth man, a 38-year-old from Lancing, failed to answer his bail and police are attempting to trace him.
Since being banned from the sport, McCracken, who is widely known in racing circles as ‘Jock', has enjoyed taunting the authorities, making regular racecourse visits, often wearing a disguise, and claiming to own a string of racehorses that carry the colours of friends and associates.
In 2006 he launched a tipping operation under his own name that promised subscribers profits of up to £1m, and produced advertising material for the venture that glorified his notoriety.
The Spicer twins, from Brighton, were convicted of conspiracy to defraud and each jailed for seven years in June 2010 following a five-week trial at Lewes Crown Court.
O'Donnell, from Hove, received a 21-month sentence as part of the same case.