Cochrane pleased with court’s decision in race track land saga

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By Carlena Knight

President of the Antigua Turf Club (ATC) Neil Cochrane has shared his pleasure over a recent court decision which ruled in favour of the ATC regarding a long-running land battle with businessman Carlton “Tyre Master” Lewis.

Cochrane said the matter spanning more than two decades had been an emotional ordeal and limited the facility’s progress.

“Great news for the ATC and the horse racing fraternity, and by extension the nation, because this was a fight regarding wrong or right,” he said.

“Right will always remain right and wrong will always remain wrong, so we are very happy and pleased that the appeals court now ruled in our favour.

“It’s very emotional. It has been very challenging. It’s been 22 years since this thing happened – 22 years, since the year 2000. I have been at the head of this situation since 2009 and it’s been like a cloud hanging over your head.

“Any progress you try to make, every investor that you try to reach out to and try to connect with, has always been an issue,” Cochrane said.

In May 2012, Lewis filed for an injunction restraining the ATC from ‘trespassing’ on lands encompassing the Cassada Gardens race track.

He claimed to have a valid lease on the property located just east of the old APUA headquarters and, after Lewis had invested thousands of dollars into the development of the land, said the ATC was not approved to utilise the facility.

Lewis lost that case in 2018 but later appealed the decision. 

The ATC’s win means that Lewis must uphold the cost associated with the initial judgment which, according to Cochrane, is more than $350,000 in legal fees and other amenities.

Cochrane went on to say that this judgement will only reinforce the body’s aim to retrofit the race track into a modern facility as it seeks to put the issue to rest.

While the ATC is hoping to leave the matter behind them now, Lewis previously told Observer of his intention to take the case all the way to the Privy Council if he lost the appeal. Whether or not he still plans to take that route could not be confirmed up to news time.

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