Sutton handed six-year ban
Published 27/05/2015 | 17:46
Irish amateur snooker player John Sutton has been banned for six years after the sport's world governing body found him guilty of match-fixing and misusing inside information.
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association said Sutton's offences related to suspicious betting on his match against Scotland's Jamie Burnett in the qualifying stages of the International Championship.
The match, played in Barnsley on September 24 2014, saw Burnett win through 6-0, but suspicious betting patterns were reported to the WPBSA. There is no suggestion Burnett was at fault.
Sutton, a 34-year-old married father of four, was suspended after being charged in February, and his case was heard in Bristol on March 24 by the WPBSA disciplinary committee, with the ruling announced on Wednesday.
The WPBSA alleged that bets placed against Sutton by associates of his from the Terry Rogers Snooker Club in Dublin were " disproportionately and suspiciously large", adding: "That the betting of these persons was considerably in excess of their previous betting history is a clear indication that they had knowledge of or belief in the outcome of the match."
It said the stakes by the bettors in question amounted to 18,000 euros (£12,700), who stood to recoup 55,000 euros (£39,000), however bookmakers declined to pay out. There were 58 bets placed in the space of 44 minutes, in "a structured and co-ordinated" manner, the WPBSA said.
While Sutton protested his innocence, and can appeal, the authority ruled on a balance of probabilities that he " agreed with and confirmed to a bettor or bettors that he would fix or contrive the result" and to do so by a 6-0 scoreline following a meeting at the Terry Rogers Snooker Club, and went ahead with the fix.
The WPBSA said in a statement: " On Wednesday 20th May 2015, there was a hearing to determine sanction. John Sutton has been sentenced to a suspension of six years from the sport of snooker. The suspension will run from 9th February 2015 when the interim suspension was imposed by the WPBSA. Therefore John Sutton will not be eligible to participate in snooker before 9th February 2021. He has been ordered to pay a contribution towards the WPBSA costs of £5,000."
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said: "We take no pride in having to deal with such serious issues, however this demonstrates our commitment to ensuring all World Snooker events are competed in a fair and honest manner."