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Police officer guilty of neglecting duty over sex predator investigation

A police officer has been found guilty of neglecting his duty after failing to properly look at the criminal history of sexual predator Anthony Sampieri days before the paroled rapist went on to sexually assault a seven-year-old girl.

Andrew Michael Bruce, 33, faced a hearing in Downing Centre Local Court on two charges of neglecting his duty, accused of failing to look at Sampieri’s full criminal record when a complaint was made against him about harassing phone calls, and failing to notify community corrections staff about the new allegation.

Andrew Bruce leaves court on Thursday.

Andrew Bruce leaves court on Thursday.Credit:Janie Barrett

On Thursday, Magistrate Vivien Swain found Mr Bruce guilty of failing to look at Sampieri’s full criminal record, but found there was insufficient evidence that the highly-regarded leading senior constable failed to contact community corrections as he was required to.

Ms Swain sentenced Mr Bruce to a four-month conditional release order, without conviction, which requires him to be of good behaviour. She found the offence was at the lower end of objective seriousness.

The magistrate said it was clear the officer had “some understanding of Sampieri’s record”, but not to the extent required by his duty, and he “must be made accountable for his omission in relation to this matter” as a warning to himself and other officers.

Sampieri, who was jailed for life and died this year, was on parole for rape when he began making harassing phone calls to a woman who complained to police. Mr Bruce investigated the calls, then attended Sampieri’s home with another officer and told him to “cut it out”.

The investigation was closed on November 14. One day later, Sampieri sexually assaulted a seven-year-old girl in the bathroom of a dance studio in Sydney’s south and stabbed a man who tried to come to the girl’s aid.

Prosecutors argued Mr Bruce only looked at one item on Sampieri’s police record – relating to other phone calls made in 2012 – during the investigation. Ms Swain said the investigation had been praised by other officers for doing more than would normally be required.

It had been argued that, had Mr Bruce carried out his duty, Sampieri could have been returned to custody for a parole breach and the young girl would not have been attacked. However, Ms Swain said any consideration of the effect of the offence was “mere speculation”.

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