Justin Bergman sentenced for Wellington Cup Day race track invasion

The man who invaded the Trentham race track and stood amid the galloping horses on Wellington Cup Day in a moment of “alcohol-fuelled madness” has admitted the offending, as well as trying to spook the horses beforehand.

Justin Bergman, 24, appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court this morning, where he pleaded guilty to creating a criminal nuisance by unreasonably disrupting a public meeting, knowing it would endanger the safety of the public.

He is also pleaded guilty to disrupting a meeting at Trentham racecourse.

Before going onto the track, Bergman gained access to a private area where horses are showcased and paraded.

He began yelling and screaming at the horses in an attempt to spook them, but was unsuccessful.

“He propped himself up on the barrier to look bigger and continued to make loud growling noises at passing horses,” the police prosecutor said.

He then jumped three fences and ran onto the track and stood in the way as the 500kg horses and their jockeys thundered past.

They had been travelling about 60-65km/h and had to take “evasive action”.

Bergman then “lifted his arms towards the crowd in a victorious manner”.

As a result, betting on one of the horses had to be refunded. The cost to the racing industry was $8880.

Bergman, who had been drinking all day with his friends, told police he had been thinking about running out onto the track all day.

He also claimed to be an animal rights protester.

Bergman declined to speak to media outside the court.

However he told the Herald he was “remorseful” and regretted what had happened.

After pleading guilty he was sentenced to 100 hours of community work and 12 months of supervision, and was ordered to pay reparation of $8880.

Judge Craig Thompson said the incident received “intense publicity” and that Bergman “posed a very significant danger to the riders and the horses, and not least to you as well”.

“It can only be explained as an alcohol-fuelled moment of complete madness.”

He said Bergman was apologetic straight away and had self-referred to alcohol and drug counselling.

Punters and animal rights activists alike were outraged in January after video emerged of Bergman jumping the fencing at the Wellington Cup Day races and sauntering into the middle of the track as the racing horses galloped past.

The video shows horses and their jockeys flying closely past the man.

Wellington Race Group chairman Paul Humphries said close to 12,000 people were enjoying the Cup Day at the time.

“The horses can shy, go through the running rail and when you’ve got jockeys on top of horses going 60km/h, it’s just madness.”

The jockeys had to quickly steer away and came just inches from trampling Bergman as he stood in the middle of the track.

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