Cop charged over rapist spared conviction

·3-min read

A NSW police officer who did not properly investigate the criminal history of notorious child rapist Anthony Sampieri has been spared a criminal conviction.

Leading Senior Constable Andrew Michael Bruce, 33, was found guilty on Thursday of one charge of neglecting his duty as a police officer but not guilty of another and sentenced to a conditional release order for four months, without conviction.

In October 2018 Bruce investigated a complaint from a woman who received menacing phone calls that were sexually explicit in nature and she described as "very creepy".

The officer identified Sampieri as the culprit and looked up one police file relating to harassing phone calls he made in 2012, but failed to open others including his jailing for sexual assault, Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court was told.

At the time he made the phone calls he was on parole for raping a 60-year-old woman in Wollongong in 2012.

Footage from Bruce's body-worn camera previously played in court showed the brief interview he conducted before letting Sampieri off with a warning.

Asked whether he had been making such phone calls, Sampieri replied "I'm not sure."

"She doesn't want to proceed legally with anything. She's obviously not impressed," Bruce said.

"I'm giving you a warning. Cut it out and there won't be any more issues."

The woman who made the complaint gave evidence that she had instructed Bruce if the caller did not have a criminal record she wanted him warned, but if he did "I'd like to take it further".

"Let's figure out who this bloke is, even if we can get onto him, and then we'll obviously make our decision from there," she told Bruce at the time.

After Bruce identified Sampieri he advised her of his "minor history" and the case was subsequently closed.

Meanwhile, the woman conducted her own Google search uncovering numerous news stories about his past crimes which she said left her a "mess".

Eight days after Sampieri was interviewed he choked, sexually assaulted and filmed a young girl in the bathroom of a dance studio in Kogarah, early November 2018.

He was sentenced to life in prison but has since died in jail.

Magistrate Vivien Swain said Bruce failed to check "the entirety of his criminal record," which included 19 events listed in the police file, and warning signs of serious offending.

Evidence showed Bruce accessed one event relating to a similar telecommunications offence in 2012.

Sampieri told Bruce that if he had made the harassing phone calls in 2018, that he was drunk at the time.

The Crown submitted this was adverse contact and should have been passed onto corrective services regarding his parole.

But Ms Swain said there was insufficient evidence to determine whether Bruce notified the relevant corrective services officer, and found him not guilty of this charge.

The magistrate said the phone records were not comprehensive and could not rule out whether he used another number, nor were statements taken from other corrective service officers regarding voice mails he may have left.

Prior to this incident Bruce was considered an "excellent police officer," with no prior criminal record, the court was told.

While the matter "was not trivial," Ms Swain was satisfied no conviction was necessary to ensure he conducted his future police work, if continued, more thoroughly.

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