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December 22, 1958
A murky tale of drugged racing dogs is exposed in England and seven wailing young ladies are trotted off to jail
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December 22, 1958

The Case Of The Crooked Kennelmaids

A murky tale of drugged racing dogs is exposed in England and seven wailing young ladies are trotted off to jail

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England goes for dog racing in a big way. They bet on the dogs, you see, and most Englishmen would rather bet than drink tea. So, when a young kennelmaid named Barbara Baker spilled out a story of fixed races due to doped dogs, it was big news.

This is the way it worked. The heavy, one Charles Frederick Coulon, planted a number of pliable young ladies as kennelmaids at the greyhound kennels in Sunbury. Every weekend some of the girls would slip up to London, meet Coulon or one of his associates and receive pellets of pheno-barbitone encased in meatballs, plus instructions. Back in Sunbury, the girls would feed the loaded meatballs to the appointed dogs on the morning of a race. It was not always easy, since a majority of the kennelmaids, of course, was honest. Therefore, if the mission was successful, the girls, as a signal to Coulon, would leave work wearing their head scarves. Otherwise, no head scarves. Usually three of six dogs in a fixed race would be doped. Coulon would back the other three heavily.

Into this cozy setup walked Barbara Baker, an animal lover. When she got the job as a kennelmaid through Coulon, she knew it was on the crook, but it wasn't until her time came to administer the dope that her conscience drove her to the authorities.

Coulon, two associates and seven kennelmaids were rounded up and tried at the Old Bailey, home of Britain's most famous murder trials. Barbara Baker, however, didn't show up in court. Fearing someone would put the "chiv" to her, she dyed her hair red, donned glasses and skipped town. Nevertheless, the 10 defendants were found guilty. In summing up, the judge accused them of "seeking to undermine a sport which, I understand, gives pleasure to many people." Then he pronounced sentence: Coulon got three years in jail, his associates slightly less. But it was when six of the seven young (average age: 18) kennelmaids were given six months that howls of anguish rocked the austere Old Bailey. There was clawing, and screaming, and collapsing. Girls cried for mother, one cried for her 15-month-old child. But the judge would have none of it, and the kennelmaids were dragged off.

Barbara Baker? Oh, she came back to town, undyed her hair and removed the glasses. She sold her story to a paper and considered returning to work. As a kennelmaid, yet.

At typical London dog track (not Sunbury) kennelmaids lead racing dogs to starting "traps," guided by official wearing bowler hat. A kennelmaid's other duties include care and feeding of dogs prior to the race. Wally King (in foreground) is one of sport's many legal bookies.

Back in town after trial, Informant Baker has hair returned to natural shade.

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Barbara Baker 1 0 0
United Kingdom 1344 0 1
Sunbury 4 0 0
London 393 0 2
Old Bailey 0 0 0