Nikolic fined, convicted over Vic assaults

Former leading jockey Danny Nikolic has been fined $1500 for assaulting a fellow rider and a police officer, with a magistrate rejecting his self-defence claims.


Magistrate Angela Bolger questioned the reliability of Nikolic’s evidence and found he punched the jockey and later assaulted the detective as they stood toe-to-toe.

Nikolic, who is already serving a two-year ban from racing for threatening Victoria’s chief racing steward, was convicted and fined $1200 for recklessly causing injury to jockey Mark Pegus in January 2011.

He was also convicted of unlawfully assaulting Detective Senior Constable Julio Salerno after a police interview and fined $300.

“It’s about what I expected,” Nikolic said as he left the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday.

In April 2011, Nikolic was being interviewed over the Pegus allegation at a Melbourne police station when he made slight contact with Det Sen Const Salerno’s forehead as they faced off in the interview room.

The 2003 Caulfield Cup winner claimed the detective had pushed him backwards into a chair, then grabbed him by the throat and pinned him to the wall when he stood back up.

Ms Bolger rejected Nikolic’s claim but said the detective could have handled the situation better.

“There was intemperate and inflammatory language used by all in this exchange,” she said.

“Whether this incident ought to have been handled better by police, of that I have no doubt.”

Det Sen Const Salerno was a member of the Purana taskforce when he participated in the routine interview as a corroborator.

He told the court the true purpose of his presence was to gather intelligence in relation to the murder of Sydney racing identity Les Samba.

Nikolic had earlier been interviewed by police in connection with the murder of Mr Samba, his former father-in-law, but cleared of any involvement.

Nikolic had also claimed Pegus was the instigator of their confrontation.

He told the court he had been working on a horse with Pegus but became infuriated when Pegus claimed he was injured and refused to ride.

He said he phoned Pegus to tell him their partnership was finished and warned him not to come to trackwork at Caulfield racecourse the following day.

When Pegus arrived, Nikolic took him into an office where he repeatedly punched him, giving him a cut lip and black eye.

Nikolic told the court Pegus had shoved him and he had pushed him against the wall, then wrestled him onto a desk in self-defence.

But Ms Bolger noted inconsistencies in Nikolic’s initial statement to police and his evidence in court.

Racing Victoria spokesman Shaun Kelly said as Nikolic had been found guilty of assaulting a fellow rider on a race course, stewards would now consider if the matter should be pursued under the rules of racing.

Nikolic’s 12-month disqualification from racing ended at midnight on Wednesday but he still has to serve a 12-month suspension.

He must reapply for a licence with Racing Victoria even if he wishes to ride trackwork during that suspension.