Nikolic in police wind-up, court hears

A police officer who claims he was assaulted by jockey Dan Nikolic deliberately set out to “wind-up” his alleged assailant, a court has heard.


Nikolic is charged with assaulting Detective Senior Constable Julio Salerno, then a member of the elite Purana taskforce, at the conclusion of an interview at the St Kilda police station in April 2011.

Nikolic denies the assault and his counsel claims Det Sen Const Salerno’s presence at the interview was linked to the still-unsolved murder two months earlier of Nikolic’s former father-in-law Les Samba.

Nikolic was questioned by Purana detectives in relation to the Samba murder but is not a suspect.

“Mr Salerno was there to wind Danny Nikolic up … to get a reaction,” said defence counsel Sandy Robertson.

Sergeant Dave Eadie, who conducted the interview at which Det Sen Const Salerno was an observer, denied the suggestion.

Under cross-examination Sgt Eadie agreed Nikolic neither threw a punch nor made any verbal threat in the altercation which led to the charge.

He also agreed Nikolic and his alleged victim made only slight, non-forceful contact with their foreheads as they faced off in the interview room and neither suffered any injury.

While Sgt Eadie insisted an assault had occurred, the charge Nikolic is answering in the Melbourne Magistrates Court wasn’t laid until 12 months after the incident.

Nikolic is also charged with assaulting fellow jockey Mark Pegus in January 2011 and Pegus’s girlfriend Rickie-Lee Hull two months later.

He denies all charges.

The second day of the hearing began with an application by Mr Robertson for presiding magistrate Angela Bolger to stand down from hearing the case.

The application came after Sgt Eadie referred in evidence to issues involving Nikolic and racing officials.

Mr Robertson described Sgt Eadie as a “disgrace” for mentioning that Nikolic allegedly had anger management issues that had become apparent during a stewards inquiry that led to him being banned from racing.

Mr Robertson asked Ms Bolger to discharge herself on the grounds that the comment would cause her to be biased in her assessment of the case.

Ms Bolger denied the application.

The case is adjourned until August 30.