Celeste Manno: Luay Sako jailed for murdering co-worker

23-year old Celeste Manno worked with Luay Sako at a call centre before he was fired in 2019
Image caption,23-year old Celeste Manno worked with Luay Sako at a call centre before he was fired in 2019

A man in Australia who stalked and killed his former co-worker has been sentenced to 36 years in jail.

Luay Sako broke into Celeste Manno’s home in Melbourne in 2020, and stabbed her to death after months of stalking.

Prosecutors said he broke into her home hours after she posted a photo online with her new boyfriend, and stabbed her 23 times in two-and-a-half minutes.

Ms Manno’s family believe Sako should have been jailed for life. Her mother condemned the sentence as “outrageous”.

It is “absolutely unbelievable, that the court decided to grant him mercy even though he showed Celeste none,” Aggie Di Mauro said outside the court shortly after the sentence was handed down.

Ms Di Mauro said she hoped the court of appeal would recognise that “true justice in this case demands a life sentence”.

Thursday’s sentencing in the Supreme Court in Melbourne saw dozens of Ms Manno’s family and friends fill the gallery.

Australian media reported that a blue glowing urn containing her ashes was placed in front of her family as they watched the proceedings, which lasted about 45 minutes.

“Celeste deserved life, but you decided otherwise,” Justice Jane Dixon said, as reported by Australian public broadcaster ABC.

“You carried out the attack with chilling efficiency.”

But there were tears when the judge revealed she would not be handing down a life sentence, the harshest penalty under the state of Victoria’s law.

Celeste Manno, 23, was a team leader at a call centre where Sako, now 39, also worked.

The stalking began in 2019 when he was fired, and he started sending her messages. Despite Ms Manno begging him to stop, Sako’s messages became increasingly desperate and obsessive.

She reported him to police and was able to get an interim restraining order but he was not deterred, and was later charged with breaching the order.

The court heard that Sako cross referenced her social media posts with Google Maps to work out where Ms Manno’s family home was.

On 16 November 2020, a few hours after she posted a photo with her new boyfriend online, he drove to the address and used a hammer to smash her bedroom window.

He fled about two and a half minutes later, having viciously stabbed Ms Manno to death as she was sleeping.

Her body was found by her mother shortly afterwards.

Sako then drove to a police station and blamed law enforcement officers for her murder. He asked them to shoot him.

“You know what happened, it’s your fault,” he said, adding: “She’s dead, she’s dead. Go have a look.”

Judge Dixon said Sako had committed an “appalling crime”.

But she told the court that it did not warrant life imprisonment because he had been diagnosed with an extreme personality disorder. This “caused a significant impairment” of his mental functioning at the time of the offence, the judge said.

Luay Sako will be eligible for parole when he is 65
Image caption,Luay Sako will be eligible for parole when he is 65

Addressing the defendant directly, Ms Dixon said: “Your psychiatric condition at the time of the offending reduces your moral culpability,” adding that she’d been well aware of the “devastating impact” of the crime on Ms Manno’s family and friends.

Judge Dixon said Sako’s prospects for rehabilitation were limited, but could be improved with adequate psychiatric treatment over the lengthy sentence.

Outside the court, Ms Manno’s mother tore up a speech she had prepared to read in front of dozens of journalists, had the judge handed down the life sentence she was hoping for.

“Today’s outcome proves just how flawed the justice system is,” Ms Di Mauro said.

“We were forced to trust the system that we lost faith in three years ago. It failed Celeste then and it failed her again now.”

Luay Sako will be eligible for parole in 2050. https://sayurkana.com/

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