WARNING: Graphic content
When confused parents noticed they hadn't seen a 7-year-old girl for 15 minutes at a south Sydney dance studio on November 15 last year, they all decided to pitch in and help find her.
What one of those concerned parents, Nicola Gilio — whose child was dancing with her friends at the time — discovered when he checked an upstairs toilet of the Arena building in Kogarah will likely haunt him forever.
His friends told news.com.au at the time the kind-hearted Sydney dad was left with "physical and emotional scars" after he kicked down that toilet door and saw what was happening inside, news.com.au reports.
After seeing the missing young girl inside the cubicle with 55-year-old convicted rapist Anthony Peter Sampieri, who was choking her into submission at knifepoint and raping her, he put his life on the line.
A wild scuffle broke out, as he and dentist Jeffrey Stack, whose dental practice is in the same building, tried to rescue the little girl.
He felt the sharp pain of a blade plunge into his stomach and copped a slashing to the back of his neck during the altercation.
The girl's mother was also slashed on the arm as she reached out in a bid to protect her child, but fortunately, Mr Stack, a former amateur boxer, punched Sampieri in the head and knocked him out.
It was a night that even those who could only hear the harrowing screams coming from the dank cubicle will never forget.
This week, Sampieri pleaded guilty to three counts of raping the girl as he held her captive in the bathroom — bringing the child's family a step closer to some form of justice.
But how this disturbing crime was ever allowed to take place is deeply contentious — given Sampieri was on parole at the time of the incident but was not wearing a GPS monitor.
He had walked free after five years of a seven-year sentence for raping a 60-year-old woman at knifepoint in his Illawarra home in 2012.
And, a month before the attack, it was revealed Sampieri was called to a police station to be interviewed over an alleged harassing and menacing phone call he made to a woman.
News.com.au revealed exclusive details of disgusting calls Sampieri made to two women 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*****e?".
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.
As details of Sampieri's behaviour came to light across numerous media outlets, NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said the whole discussion made him "crook in the guts".
However, he promised the "answers will come" as to how Sampieri was allowed to walk unchecked into that Kogarah dance studio, brandishing a scalpel.
As part of this hunt for answers, a NSW Police senior constable, 31-year-old Andrew Michael Bruce, was charged in April with four counts of neglect of duty. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
It will be alleged that on October 26 last year, a woman filed a complaint at St George police station about an offensive call from Sampieri — leading to the convicted rapist being summoned to the station for an interview.
Const Bruce allegedly did a search for Sampieri's name in a computer system and discovered it was red-flagged because he was on parole.
However, Const Bruce allegedly did not obtain the criminal history on the system or pass it on to community corrections — meaning Sampieri was allowed to walk free that day, despite breaching his parole, just weeks before the dance studio attack.
Const Bruce has pleaded not guilty to four counts of neglect of duty, and his solicitor Warwick Anderson told reporters his client has "had his life turned upside down and he's just doing his best".
Sampieri's attack sparked a political war of words, as former NSW opposition leader Michael Daley called for a system-wide review of parole and more resources for police.
He said it was wrong to blame the system-wide failure on one officer.
"The police do an amazing job keeping tabs on some of the most dangerous offenders in our society, but they cannot do it with one hand tied behind their backs," he said in a statement shortly after the attack.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitted in parliament that mistakes were made.
"On this occasion, getting it wrong may have resulted in the most terrible of circumstances, and we are deeply, deeply sorry to everyone affected," she told parliament.
As the fallout from Sampieri's attack continues, Sampieri's 25-year-old son Daniel told The Daily Telegraph his father was "beyond saving" and "better off dead".
"I hope he feels for what he's done, but he's beyond saving … he's been abusing heroin and ice too long," he said.
"There's no cure for someone like that. He's better off dead, and the quicker he dies in jail the better."
A bearded Sampieri appeared via video link in Sydney's Central Local Court from custody as his lawyer, Penny Musgrave, entered the pleas on his behalf.
He gave brief responses of "that's right", "yes" and "OK" during the court appearance as magistrate Robert Williams committed him for sentence in Downing Centre District Court on June 21.
Sampieri is due to again appear via video link.
The court heard some facts were in dispute and an agreed fact sheet would be filed in the District Court.
Sampieri also faces 29 charges of making threatening phone calls in the weeks before the dance studio attack.
He's due to appear before Central Local Court on July 10 on those matters and was committed to Downing Centre Local Court for sentence on June 21.
Const Bruce is currently suspended with pay, and his case will return to court on August 8.