Friday September 6 2013
– Champion jockey Danny Nikolic has avoided jail for assaulting a fellow jockey and a police officer investigating his father-in-law’s murder.
Daniel Mario Nikolic, 38, was fined $1500 and convicted of recklessly causing injury and assaulting police.
Each offence carries a maximum penalty of five years’ jail, though a magistrate can impose a term of no more than two years.
Leaving Melbourne Magistrates Court, Nikolic said: “It’s about what I expected.”
Magistrate Angela Bolger did not accept Nikolic’s insistence that in punching former long-time friend Mark Pegus in January 2011, he was defending himself after he was pushed.
Ms Bolger said she doubted his credibility.
She also found that, while being questioned about the assault and an alleged of Pegus’s girlfriend at a St Kilda nightclub, Nikolic assaulted a police officer.
Nikolic accused Detective Senior Constable Julio Salerno of “having a go” at him and dared the officer to punch him, aggressively facing off until he was shoved back into his chair, she said.
Nikolic fought the charges over 3 1\2 days.
Nikolic’s barrister, Sandy Robertson, argued Senior Detective Salerno, who was part of the investigation into the murder of racehorse owner Les Samba (in which Nikolic was a person of interest), had been sent to “wind Danny up”.
After the verdict, Mr Robertson said his client should be fined and no conviction should be recorded.
He said Nikolic had no prior convictions and had endured years of bad publicity.
Mr Robertson said his client, currently serving a one-year disqualification and a one-year suspension for threatening chief steward Terry Bailey and his family, was also “unable to carry out his desired trade”.
A representative for Racing Victoria stewards applied for access to the court’s judgement and to photos of Mr Pegus, saying the chief magistrate had allowed access to a recording of the hearing. Ms Bolger said this was a matter for the chief magistrate.
A warrant was issued for a witness related to a third assault matter, which Nikolic will contest in December.
– Emily Portelli