The godmother of a young woman murdered in bed by her stalker has revealed she warned her niece to be “careful” months earlier.
Celeste Manno, 23, was stabbed to death by Luay Nader Sako, 39, after he broke into her family home in the early hours of the morning on November 16, 2020.
The pair had previously worked together at a Serco call centre, with Sako beginning to stalk and harass the young woman about 18 months earlier after he was fired.
Sako returned before the Victorian Supreme Court on Tuesday for a pre-sentence hearing after pleading guilty to Ms Manno’s murder last year.
Wearing all grey, Sako sat hunched in the dock and was flanked by three security guards as many of Ms Manno’s loved ones confronted him.
He showed no emotion as he was labelled a “disgusting demon”, a “weak coward”, “scum” and “pathetic”.
In an emotional statement to the court, her aunt and godmother, Grace Del Bonifro, called on Justice Jane Dixon to ensure Sako was never released from custody.
“When you began stalking Celeste, she showed me your work photo. In that moment I felt fear,” she said.
“I warned her, ‘Baby girl, please be careful with this one, it has evil eyes’. I worried about her safety but Celeste with such a pure heart couldn’t fathom the existence of such evil.
“My heart cries out for justice, every fibre of my being springs for retribution.”
As dozens of Ms Manno’s family and friends packed the courtroom, Ms Del Bonifro questioned where Sako’s loved ones were.
“They’re embarrassed, aren’t they?” she said.
“You have stained this earth with your malevolence, your evil deeds will not go unpunished.
“You repulse me, burn in hell.”
The court was told Sako and Ms Manno had little contact at work, with their only interaction being Ms Manno offering “well wishes” on his last day at Serco.
In the months leading up to her murder, Sako was obsessively messaging Ms Manno despite her rejecting his advances.
“It’s bordering on OCD. I’m totally infatuated with you, captivated and fascinated by you. “You’re all I think about,” he wrote in a message.
“As much as I appreciate this, I only feel in a professional way towards you and I wish you all of the best in your new job and journey,” she responded.
In a victim impact statement, Ms Manno’s friend, Sarah Pervaiz, told the court that Ms Manno’s legacy was one of beauty and light.
“Celeste was a person who had such a lust for life, who literally lit up a room,” she said.
“I now have to live my life for Celeste as her life was taken brutally from her.
“No sentence will ever be enough, but I would hate to see Celeste be let down again.”
Sako, who dumped his second set of lawyers earlier this month, has chosen to represent himself and is disputing whether he stabbed Ms Manno 23 times.
“I know and believe I only inflicted two, and the 21 other wounds were a result of glass-inflicted injuries,” he said at a hearing last week.
The hearing continues.