A Harcourt man who entered a stranger's house and raped her while her young son slept in the next room will spend at least 11 years behind bars.
Gary Stephen Salvaggio, 34, was found guilty by a County Court jury of rape, sexual assault and aggravated burglary in relation to the incident at Epsom in October 2016.
Salvaggio had pleaded guilty to another charge of stalking in relation to videos he surreptitiously filmed of another woman undressing in her Harcourt home.
This week Judge Patricia Riddell sentenced him to 14 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 11 years, for the two sets of offences.
On the evening of October 13, 2016, CCTV footage in Epsom recorded Salvaggio walking towards the woman’s home about an hour before the attack, walking away, then returning again a short time later.
Phone records also showed he made three phone calls to the victim’s phone in the half-hour before the attack, none of which were answered.
The two did not know each other.
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Salvaggio entered the 31-year-old’s home and looked through her wallet, but took nothing.
He then went into her bedroom.
“She describes starting to wake when she feels someone crawling across her bed,” Judge Patricia Riddell said at sentencing.
The woman felt something cold go down the back of her pants, and texta marks were later found on her skin. A felt pen discovered at the scene had Salvaggio’s DNA on it.
Salvaggio then pinned the woman to the bed and sexually assaulted her.
When she resisted, he made a threat against her eight-year-old son, who was asleep in the next room. The woman’s housemate, another young woman, was also asleep in the house.
Salvaggio then digitally raped the woman. She fought back and threw off her attacker, and he fled the scene.
The phone calls led police to Salvaggio, who gave police an untruthful version of events about how he found the woman’s phone number.
At the time of the attack, Salvaggio’s then-wife and infant child were away.
When they returned, Salvaggio admitted his interaction with police to his wife, who said the offender would likely be caught, talking about fingerprints, DNA and shoe prints.
CCTV footage captured on the night of the attack
Salvaggio then disposed of the boots he was wearing on the night of the attack.
His wife began to grow suspicious of her husband, and he admitted he had entered the house to commit a theft but had no contact with anyone.
When she said police were likely to find DNA on the victim, Salvaggio changed his story and said he’d had an altercation with someone, during which he had stumbled and his hand might have gone down the back of their pants.
When interviewed by police again, Salvaggio said he had intended to go to Bunnings Epsom because he was desperate to finish a retaining wall at his property, which he felt under pressure to complete.
He said he found it closed and decided to go to a fast food restaurant, but realised he had forgotten his wallet, which made him more upset.
He had gone for a walk to clear his head, Salvaggio said, when he saw the victim’s car door open.
Salvaggio gave a second explanation as to why he had the woman’s number, claiming he found a vet bill with the victim’s phone number and called it.
He said he then entered the house to steal food, and denied he had raped or sexually assaulted the woman.
“I’m satisfied that you formed your intention to commit the aggravated burglary during the period where you are seen parking near the victim’s house and walking to and from the victim’s house,” Judge Riddell said.
Forensic evidence showed he had been in the house.
Police seized Salvaggio’s computer and discovered a montage of videos of another woman, who again did not know him, undressing or nude.
Most videos had been filmed from immediately outside the window of the woman’s bedroom in Harcourt, while some were taken through the window of a spare bedroom.
Salvaggio told police he first noticed the woman while walking his dog, then saw her undressing on a number of subsequent occasions and decided to film her on his phone.
He said it was a “silly decision” but it was encouraging when “the person makes it easy”.
Judge Riddell noted the woman’s house was set well back from the street, with the master bedroom partly obscured and the spare bedroom at the back of the house.
She said the victim had described feeling “scared, untrusting and sick”, and fearful of being alone in her own home when she found out about Salvaggio’s offending.
In sentencing, Judge Riddell emphasised the gravity of Salvaggio’s offending against the two women.
“The aggravated burglary and sexual offences are extremely serious examples of such offences,” she said.
“Taken with the stalking, they paint a very disturbing picture.”
A psychiatrist assessed Salvaggio’s risk of sexual reoffending as average, but Judge Riddell challenged that.
“In my view, you pose a serious risk to the community,” she said.
“Your behaviour reflected in both sets of offences before me is extremely serious… You entered a stranger’s house, at night, intending a sexual assault.
“You then carried out that assault, using physical violence by way of your forceful restraint.”
Both women had appeared in court to give evidence, and Judge Riddell said the Epsom woman struck her as an “honest, dignified and courageous woman”.
She fortunately suffered no lasting physical injury, Judge Riddell said, but the psychological impact must be significant.
“In relation to both women, they were in their homes, places they are entitled to feel safe,” she said.
“Your behaviour strikes directly at the heart of a person’s domestic security and capacity to feel safe.”
She noted Salvaggio’s refusal to accept responsibility for the sexual crimes committed against the Epsom woman, and said he had made worrying victim-blaming statements regarding the Harcourt woman.
Judge Riddell described his prospects of rehabilitation as “extremely guarded”.
She said the fact that Salvaggio had the support of his mother and had started a successful gardening business while on bail were positive factors, but these were outweighed by the seriousness of his offending.
At the time of the offending, he had no prior criminal history.
In addition to his prison sentence, Salvaggio has been declared a serious sexual offender.
He had already served 117 days in custody at the time of sentencing.
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