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"The flashbacks won't stop." Last year, Nick rescued a 7-year-old girl. It still haunts him.

On an evening in November 2018, Nick Gilio was at a dance studio in Sydney’s south with his little girl who did classes there.

One of her classmates had gone missing, and so he pitched in to help the seven-year-old’s confused parents find her.

Nick went upstairs to check a toilet in the Kogarah Arena building and says what he saw when he kicked down one of the doors will haunt him forever.

Convicted rapist Anthony Peter Sampieri, 55, was choking the missing girl into submission at knifepoint, raping her.

Kogarah bathroom attack
The bathroom at the Kogarah building. Image: Supplied.

Dentist Jeffrey Stack, whose dental practice is in the same building, was alongside Nick as the pair tried to rescue the screaming girl.

That's when Nick felt the sharp pain of a blade.

"I was stabbed in the abdomen," he told the District Court sentencing hearing for Sampieri, as reported by the ABC.

Nick was stabbed multiple times as he attempted to rescue the girl.

"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, with no regard for anything but his thirst for abuse. This is the reason I can't sleep at night," he said.

The girl's mother was also slashed in the arm as she rushed to the scene, but Jeffrey managed to punch Sampieri in the head, knocking him out.

In June, Sampieri pleaded guilty to 10 charges from that night, including three of rape.

Today in his victim impact statement, Nick spoke of his debilitating flashbacks and ongoing physical and psychological trauma from the evening.

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He can't concentrate anymore which means his career as a diesel mechanic is over, and he's fearful for the welfare of his own children all the time, constantly checking windows and doors.

"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," said Nick, who is still living in fear despite 10 months of counselling.

“I was a happy go lucky man. I was active, I enjoyed exercising and socialising. I feel as though a huge part of me has died on the night of that incident," he told the court. Now, Nick describes himself as "overwhelmed, dark and pessimistic."

Acting Judge Paul Conlon commended Nick on his actions, reported the ABC, telling him "It was an incredible act of bravery coming to the rescue of that child."

Nick told the court as much as he's suffering, there's a little girl at the centre of this crime that's suffering even more.

"There is no sentence harsh enough," he told the judge. "He [Sampieri] deserves a life of pain, darkness and misery."

On the night of the crime, Sampieri was on parole and wasn't wearing his tracking bracelet. He'd 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.

He has also plead guilty to seven charges relating to 94 offensive, menacing or harassing phone calls he made to women between August and November last year.

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