‘Frustrating’ twist in dance studio child rape case

WARNING: Distressing

A convicted rapist who brutally attacked a seven-year-old girl inside a Sydney dance studio toilet, before slashing a good Samaritan who tried to stop him, is being treated for cancer.

Judge Paul Conlon said in court today that Anthony Peter Sampieri - who was supposed to be sentenced this morning - is now in hospital suffering from liver cancer.

He said a psychiatrist was supposed to meet the 55-year-old in prison on Thursday morning, but when they arrived they were told Sampieri had been taken to Prince of Wales Hospital for chemotherapy.

The psychiatrist was supposed to meet the convicted rapist to prepare a report of sentencing.

Judge Conlon said that as a result of the chemotherapy, Sampieri's blood sugar levels dropped and he now needs insulin injections.

He told the court Sampieri is still in hospital and is awaiting further treatment for his cancer.

"The frustrating aspect of it all is that the prison authorities were not informed that this (the psychiatrist's assessment) was supposed to take place until the last possible moment," he said.

Sampieri pleaded guilty to seven charges relating to the brutal rape the seven-year-old girl in dance studio public toilet last year.

Court documents show that he was high on methamphetamine as he lurked in the St George Dance Centre's toilets in Kogarah on November 15.

Anthony Peter Sampieri launched a sexual attack on the primary schoolgirl at the St George Dance Centre last year. Picture: Hollie Adams
Anthony Peter Sampieri launched a sexual attack on the primary schoolgirl at the St George Dance Centre last year. Picture: Hollie Adams

His seven-year-old victim had finished her jazz ballet class, when her ordeal began. She and her mother waited for her sister's class to finish.

Dressed in a black, navy and silver jazz ballet outfit, the girl went to the carpark underneath the dance hall with her mother, but then felt an urgent need to go to the toilet.

Leaving her mother in the carpark, the girl walked up to the dance hall female toilets about 6.48pm.

Sampieri was already inside, having arrived at the dance hall more than an hour earlier to watch pornography on his mobile phone, first in the male toilets then in the female toilets.

When the seven-year-old - who weighed only 25kg and was 130cm tall - entered, Sampieri grabbed her. She resisted and he punched her in the left cheek.

Sampieri produced a knife with a 4cm blade and said "this is my knife and I don't want to use it".

He tied a black cord around the victim's neck - making it hard for her to breathe - and pulled her out of the female toilet and into the male toilet.

Inside the male toilets, Sampieri locked the girl inside a cubicle where he had placed a needle and two black bags on the floor before sexually assaulting her.

Sampieri turned out the toilet light and told the girl if she made a noise he would "cut her neck off".

Sampieri was lurking in the centre’s toilets before the attack.
Sampieri was lurking in the centre’s toilets before the attack.

At 7.30pm in the dance hall carpark, the victim's sister turned up, making the victim's mother wonder where her seven-year-old was.

A dance teacher and local dentist, Jeffrey Stack, began searching with the mother, who used her mobile phone light to look under the door of the men's toilet where she saw a pair of shoes.

They knocked on the door of a closed cubicle, and Mr Stack returned to knock again, hearing a mumble from Sampieri inside.

Sampieri walked out into the corridor, past dance student father Nick Gilio and the victim's mother.

Mr Gilio asked Sampieri if he'd seen a little girl and the rapist replied he hadn't.

When Mr Gilio and the mother walked back into the toilet followed by Sampieri, they saw the girl.

As Sampieri dashed for the door, Mr Gilio grabbed him and said, "Is this what you do … Is this what you f***ing do?" and rammed his head into the wall.

Jeffrey Stack restrained Sampieri until police arrived. Picture: Flavio Brancaleone
Jeffrey Stack restrained Sampieri until police arrived. Picture: Flavio Brancaleone

Mr Stack heard the mother's scream and returned to the toilet, but could not get inside where the victim, her mother, Mr Gilio and the offender were inside.

Sampieri produced his knife and lunged at Mr Gilio, slashing his stomach, which immediately began bleeding, and prevented them from leaving the bathroom.

Mr Gilio put an arm around Sampieri's head and held his knife hand.

When they toppled to the floor, Sampieri cut Mr Gilio's wrist, then slashed his neck with the blade from ear to ear across the back of Mr Gilio's neck causing a 14cm wound.

When Mr Gilio put Sampieri in a headlock, the offender tried to bite him and then Mr Stack opened the door and punched Sampieri in the face until he went limp.

Police arrived at 7.56pm to find Sampieri naked from the waist down, covered in blood and unresponsive.

The little girl was taken to Randwick Children’s Hospital after the attack.
The little girl was taken to Randwick Children’s Hospital after the attack.

In the ambulance to hospital, Sampieri said, "I was in the bathroom shooting up meth with another male. He attacked me and stole my meth."

The little girl was taken to Randwick Children's Hospital, where doctors found a swollen cheek, mouth lesions, neck bruises and abrasions, chest bruises, and abrasions on her legs, arms and back.

Mr Gilio's neck and stomach wounds required stitches.

Analysis of Sampieri's blood found methamphetamine, amphetamine, Diazepam and Nordiazepam.

Police found two tourniquets and a document about sexual thoughts and fantasies at Sampieri’s home. Picture: Supplied
Police found two tourniquets and a document about sexual thoughts and fantasies at Sampieri’s home. Picture: Supplied

Pornography was later found during a search of the Kogarah home Sampieri shared with his mother.

Also found at the house were two tourniquets and a document about sexual thoughts and fantasies.

Sampieri later admitted to police that at the time of the offences "I was so high … sexually charged" and that he felt that way when regularly using "crystal meth".

The hero father who went to the girl's aid said he had been left with a lifetime of pain, horror and physical and mental injuries since Sampieri slit his neck with a scalpel.

"I was stabbed in the abdomen," he said in his victim's impact statement.

"The terror and feeling of a scalpel being dragged across the back of my neck with no thought for who I am … or my family."

Mr Gilio said he had ongoing physical and psychological trauma, including tightness in the back of his neck and debilitating flashbacks of the attack he would have "for a lifetime".

Mechanic Nicola Gilio gave a powerful victim impact statement in court. Picture: AAP Image/Luke Costin
Mechanic Nicola Gilio gave a powerful victim impact statement in court. Picture: AAP Image/Luke Costin

He said the trauma and injury meant he had a lack of concentration, meaning he couldn't pursue his chosen job as a diesel mechanic.

He said he was fearful for the welfare of all children and was constantly checking doors and windows.

"The flashbacks will … never stop," he said. "I was a happy go lucky man.

"I was active, I enjoyed exercising and socialising."

Now, Mr Gilio said, he couldn't ride his motor bike, go out for long or relax.

"I feel as though a huge part of me has died on the night of that incident," he said. "I see all children as vulnerable.

"I feel as if I am responsible for protecting all children all the time. I feel frightened for them."

Sampieri is now dues to be sentenced on February 4.

 

 

If this story has raised issues of concern for you or someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.


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