Nick Gilio rescued a young female victim during an alleged rape at a Kogarah dance studio.
Nick Gilio rescued a young female victim during an alleged rape at a Kogarah dance studio.

Tragic fallout from bathroom sex attack

IT HAS been said that we use the term "hero" too liberally in Australia - but you'd be hard-pushed to find someone more deserving of the plaudit than Nick Gilio.

The southern Sydney dad was just spending time with his daughter when, moments later, stabbed while saving a seven-year-old girl from a horrifying alleged sex attack in a dance studio bathroom on Thursday last week.

Since then, he's been trying to get his life back on track and one of his friends has revealed how that horrific night in Kogarah has taken a devastating toll.

Earlier this week, Mr Gilio told Tony de Francesco - whose children go to the same school as the South Sydney hero's - about the harrowing details of that night.

"It is not an understatement to say that this has hit Nick really hard and our school community is concerned for his health and wellbeing," he said. "He is determined not to let this break him, although behind his rough exterior Nick has a very soft soul."

Mr de Francesco was so moved by what he heard that he has now set up a fundraising page to help Mr Gilio get back on his feet.

Mr Gilio’s friends have set up a fundraising page to help him get back on his feet.
Mr Gilio’s friends have set up a fundraising page to help him get back on his feet.

"No words can describe what he witnessed that night and he is left with the physical and emotional scars of that event," he wrote on the page.

Healing will take along time, and to help Nick and his family cope with the challenges of the next few years I ask that all Australians support this beautiful man."

NSW Police have hinted at formally awarding Mr Gilio for his bravery, but speaking to The Daily Telegraph shortly after the attack, he said the child is the real hero.

"The little girl is the hero - the mum was also involved and the dentist was there, too," Mr Gilio said. "The little girl, she is the hero for the minutes she endured before I got there."

It comes as police admitted they made errors handling a complaint about convicted rapist Anthony Sampieri weeks before he allegedly sexually assaulted the seven-year-old girl at St George Dance Studio in Kogarah.

Politicians and police top brass have pledged to stop these mistakes happening again. An internal police investigation has revealed a woman filed a complaint about an offensive call from 54-year-old Sampieri at St George police station on October 26.

At the time Sampieri was on parole after being jailed for raping a 60-year-old woman at knifepoint in his Illawarra home in 2012.

Police help stabbing victim Nick Gilio outside the Kogarah dance hall after he went to a girl’s aid. Picture: 9 News
Police help stabbing victim Nick Gilio outside the Kogarah dance hall after he went to a girl’s aid. Picture: 9 News

Had police at St George notified the parole board of the complaint, Sampieri's release could have been investigated and revoked, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

But the parole board was not told of the alleged breach.

Sampieri went on to allegedly physically and sexually assault a seven-year-old girl in the toilet block just weeks later.

"At best an officer or the organisation potentially has failed to notify the parole board of a potential parole breach, and at worst an officer has neglected their duty to a victim of NSW," Mr Fuller told reporters in Sydney.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was sure the NSW government was working to remedy the "abhorrent" event which, as a father, left him appalled.

The toilet where the girl was attacked. Picture: 7 News
The toilet where the girl was attacked. Picture: 7 News

 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian apologised for the system's failure to intercept the alleged attacker.

"Getting it wrong may have resulted in the most terrible of circumstances and we are deeply, deeply sorry to everybody affected," she told Parliament on Thursday.

News.com.au revealed exclusive details of two disgusting calls Sampieri made to them in Wollongong in 2012.

Calling himself "Ron", Sampieri is believed to have followed at least one of them home and, fearing that he was a sex pervert whose behaviour was escalating, one woman called police.

In one phone call, Sampieri asked a woman: "Can I stick my tongue in your a**hole?".

In another call to a separate woman, Sampieri was offensive and the language graphic as he described the lewd sex act he would like to perform on her.

"Constable (name withheld) said he didn't think the guy was a threat," the woman told news.com.au. "They couldn't do anything because they didn't have the budget.

"Then he did the rape and police found the newspaper clippings with our photos with duct tape and cable ties in his bedroom."

 

Police and forensics investigate the stabbing and alleged sex assault St George Dance Studio. Picture:Damian Hoffman
Police and forensics investigate the stabbing and alleged sex assault St George Dance Studio. Picture:Damian Hoffman

NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said the whole discussion made him "crook in the guts" but the investigation had to run its course and the welfare of victims needed to be of paramount concern.

"The answers will come and, rightly so, everyone will get to know that and a full explanation will be forthcoming but lets all please respect those victims," he said.

He refuted longstanding claims made by the police union that high-risk sex offenders could slip through the cracks of an overworked and under-resourced force.

NSW Labor leader Michael Daley said the government's decision to mount the blame on one officer revealed the "fatal flaws" of the parole system.

"People want to know why (Sampieri) was not supervised, why he was not wearing an ankle tracker," he told reporters in Sydney. "The system has failed and blaming a single officer is a cowardly response."

He called for a full public inquiry and pledged to establish one if elected. Sampieri remains under guard in hospital and police are waiting for medical professionals to grant his release when he will likely be hit with fresh charges.

 

- with AAP and staff writers