Gumtree rape: Marco Gastello pleads guilty in Victoria County Court

Judicial documents revealed that forensic samples taken from a young woman who was drugged and raped by a man who rented an apartment from him, indicated the presence of six different drugs.

Marco Gastello, a Melbourne man, pleaded guilty in Victoria County Court on Friday to the rape of a 25-year-old woman who arrived in Australia to study English. He raped her in his Docklands flat in 2017 after he secretly mixed oxazepam into a vodka shot he encouraged her to take while she went to the bathroom.

Less than three months before the assault, the prosecution’s summary revealed, Gastello had used his phone to research how much alipam, a drug similar to oxazepam, could lead to an overdose, and how to prepare the oxazepam, as well as “oxazepam and alcohol.”

The victim, from Thailand, had arrived in Australia 11 months earlier on a student visa and responded to Gumtree’s ad for a room to rent on Newquay Promenade.

On the day she moved in, July 8, only she and Gastello were in the apartment.

Gastello smoked marijuana, drank beer, and played pool, which the couple played together until 10 p.m., before Gastello suggested the victim drink some vodka to kill the bacteria in her throat after hearing her cough.

In a shot glass, which contained the image of a woman wearing only a bra and panties, Gastello prepared the victim three to four vodkas, which she drank before going to the bathroom.

When she was outside the room, she could hear the noise of a spoon crashing into a cup.

Upon her return, Gastello made another drink for her, which she took after his encouragement, with the result that the victim recalled having difficulty walking but eventually made it to her bedroom.

The next morning, the victim woke up next to Gastello in her dress, bra and underwear and felt him squeezing her.

Later that day when she was alone in the apartment, the victim went to the kitchen where she found a white powder and the shot glass she had been drinking from the night before.

She poured the rest into a plastic cup, which she gave to the police that day.

On the same day, Gastello asked if the couple had sex. He said “I’m not sure” and that they were “very drunk”.

The victim subsequently underwent a forensic examination at the Royal Women’s Hospital, where bruises were found on her legs, arms and hips, including eight bruises on her left thigh and knee.

A blood and urine sample also indicated the presence of paracetamol, codeine, morphine, oxazepam, nordiazepam and chlorpheniramine, according to the prosecution’s summary.

On July 10, police arrested Gastello and confiscated his mobile phone, two glasses from the Docklands apartment and a container of pills labeled Temaz, which prosecutors said turns into oxazepam once ingested.

Forensic swabs taken from the victim were also compared with Gastello’s DNA and found to be a match.

Analysis of Gastello’s cellphone also revealed that he had used his phone in April to search for “how much alepam can I take”, “how much alepam overdose”, and “fatal overdose of diazepam” as well as many other related searches.

Prosecutors said Gastello spent 914 days in pretrial detention.

He will return to court on May 3 for another petition.

Originally published as Marco Gastello: Shocking new details of the Gumtri rape

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