New Zealand Admore paralysed jockey Sophia Malthus reparations slashed by $100,000


An aspiring jockey who became paralysed after falling from a racehorse has lost more than $100,000 in workplace reparations. 

Sophia Malthus was 19 when she became quadriplegic due to damaging her C5 vertebrae after falling from a horse at work in Auckland, New Zealand in 2016. 

She had ‘limited experience’ riding horses but her former employer, racehorse trainer Stephen John McKee, let her ride a working racehorse. 

Ms Malthus eventually lost control of the animal, causing her to fall and severely injure her spine, leaving her wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life. 

Mr McKee pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the Ms Maltus’ safety and was made to pay $262,000 (AU$244,472) in consequential loss reparations at Auckland District Court last year.

But Mr McKee appealed the decision and Sophia’s reparations were slashed by $106,000 (AU$98,908) down to $156,000 (AU$145,564) at the Auckland High Court on May 15.    

Sophia Malthus' consequential loss reparations were slashed by $106,000 last week. She was just 19 when when she became quadriplegic due to damaging her C5 vertebrae after falling from a horse at work in Auckland, New Zealand in 2016

Sophia Malthus’ consequential loss reparations were slashed by $106,000 last week. She was just 19 when when she became quadriplegic due to damaging her C5 vertebrae after falling from a horse at work in Auckland, New Zealand in 2016

Ms Malthus had ambitions to become a jockey when she was hired by Mr McKee as a stable hand in July 2016

She attended a riding course at an equestrian centre in November 2016 but overall has ‘limited experience riding and caring for horses’.    

Her riding instructors advised her to gain experience on quiet horses as she lacked the strength and training to ride an average racehorse or a young horse.

Mr McKee did not contact the equestrian centre and had never seen Ms Malthus ride before he let her ride a working racehorse, a three-year-old thoroughbred, on November 29, 2016

Ms Malthus eventually lost control of the horse, which sped up and bolted straight for the perimeter fence.  

The aspiring jockey fell off the horse and broke her C5 vertebrae after either hitting the fence or being struck by one of the horse’s hooves. 

She has been quadriplegic ever since the accident and is now 22 years old. 

Ms Malthus with her boyfriend at a horse race

Ms Malthus' former employer John McKee

Ms Malthus’ (pictured left, with her boyfriend) former employer Stephen John McKee was ordered to pay $262,000 in reparations for consequential loss last year. The amount was reduced to $156,000 at the Auckland High Court on May 15

Ms Malthus riding a horse prior to her life-changing accident. Mr McKee pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the safety of one of his employees after he let Ms Malthus ride on a working racehorse, something she was not experienced enough to do

Ms Malthus riding a horse prior to her life-changing accident. Mr McKee pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the safety of one of his employees after he let Ms Malthus ride on a working racehorse, something she was not experienced enough to do

Mr McKee pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the safety of one of his employees, Ms Malthus, at the Auckland District Court in November 2018. 

In his sentencing last year, Mr McKee was ordered to pay $262,000 (AU$244,472) in consequential loss reparation and $110,000 (AU$102,641) for emotional harm reparation to Ms Malthus, a total of $372,000 (AU$347,113). 

He was also fined $30,000 (AU$27,993) and ordered to pay $3000 (AU$2,799) in court costs, bringing his total bill to $405,000 (AU$377,905). 

The horse trainer, with 31 years of experience, appealed the decision on grounds that the reparations were ‘manifestly excessive’. 

‘The consequential loss was incorrectly calculated because it did not reflect Ms Malthus’ actual earnings,’ Mr McKee argued, according to a High Court document.

When Ms Malthus’ reparations were calculated last year, her 37-hour working week was rounded up to the adult minimum wage for a 40-hour week. 

Ms Malthouse lies on the ground after falling from the horse on November 29, 2016. She broke her C5 vertebrae and has been quadriplegic ever since

Ms Malthouse lies on the ground after falling from the horse on November 29, 2016. She broke her C5 vertebrae and has been quadriplegic ever since

Ms Malthus in hospital with her mother after her accident in November 2016. At the time of her accident, Ms Malthus was 19 but she is now 23

Ms Malthus in hospital with her mother after her accident in November 2016. At the time of her accident, Ms Malthus was 19 but she is now 23

Last Friday, High Court judge Grant Powell ruled that ‘Ms Malthus’ actual earnings were incorrectly calculated, and this resulted in a manifestly excessive sentence’.  

‘The reparation for consequential loss in relation to earnings is adjusted to $156,000 to reflect Ms Malthus’ actual income at the date of her injury,’ the final decision read. 

Combined with the emotional harm reparations, which remain unchanged, Ms Malthus will now receive $266,000 (AU$248,204) in total.  

Despite her experience, Ms Malthus still likes to spend time with horses and at races.

She inspires her 12,000 Instagram followers with life updates and modelled at New Zealand fashion week last year, advocating for more diversity in the industry. 

Despite her experience, Ms Malthus still likes to spend time with horses and at races. Her total reparations have dropped from $372,000 to $266,000

Despite her experience, Ms Malthus still likes to spend time with horses and at races. Her total reparations have dropped from $372,000 to $266,000



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