EDS: Note language in 6th paragraph.
By Joel Cresswell
MELBOURNE, Sept 4 AAP – Caulfield Cup-winning jockey Danny Nikolic says a homicide squad detective pinned him to the wall by his throat during a routine interview over a minor assault allegation.
Nikolic is charged with assaulting Detective Senior Constable Julio Salerno, then a member of the Purana taskforce, after a 2011 interview.
But Nikolic, 38, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday that the officer was the aggressor.
The suspended rider said Det Sen Const Salerno pushed him backwards into a chair, grabbed him by the throat and then held him to the wall when he stood back up.
“I thought he was outside the parameters of what he could do,” Nikolic told the court.
He said he called Det Sen Const Salerno a “disgrace” and told him to, “f..k off, get out of here” during the interview.
Det Sen Const Salerno admitted to shoving Nikolic, but told the court he did so because he felt threatened after Nikolic stood and took a step toward him.
“Feeling threatened and fearing he was going to assault me, I pushed him back into his seat,” Det Sen Const Salerno told the court.
Nikolic is accused of making slight contact with the forehead of Det Sen Const Salerno as they faced off in the interview room.
Nikolic was at St Kilda Rd police station in April 2011 to be interviewed about another alleged assault on fellow jockey Mark Pegus, and Det Sen Const Salerno had participated as a corroborator in that interview.
Det Sen Const Salerno previously 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 Samba murder but cleared of any involvement.
The one-time leading Melbourne jockey is also charged over assaulting Pegus in January 2011 and Pegus’s girlfriend Rickie-Lee Hull two months later.
He denies all charges.
Nikolic told the court he had been working with Pegus on a horse but became infuriated when Pegus claimed he was injured and refused to ride.
He said he told Pegus their partnership was finished and warned him not to come to trackwork the following day.
When Pegus arrived at trackwork, the pair argued, Pegus shoved Nikolic and Nikolic responded by pushing him against the wall, he said.
But Nikolic denied throwing punches during the scuffle, which he said lasted about one minute.
Magistrate Angela Bolger will decide on Thursday if Nikolic is guilty of assault.