Celeste Manno murder: Killer Luay Sako poses risk to female prison staff, court told

Concerns have been raised that a “monstrous stalker” responsible for the stabbing murder of a young woman poses a risk to female prison staff.

After months of stalking and sending increasingly deranged messages online, Luay Nader Sako, 39, murdered his former co-worker Celeste Manno, 23, while she slept in bed.

Using a hammer, Sako smashed through the window of her bedroom in the family home before stabbing her to death in the early hours of November 16, 2020.

He then handed himself in at a nearby police station as Ms Manno’s mother, Aggie Di Mauro, discovered the gruesome scene.

Sako is facing a pre-sentence hearing in the Victorian Supreme Court this week after pleading guilty to the bubbly young woman’s murder.

Giving evidence, forensic psychiatrist Rajan Darjee told the court in the weeks before the murder that Sako had “homicide ideation” and had found Ms Manno’s address and floor plan online.

“I think there were times where he wanted to kill her, other times where he pulled himself back,” he said.

Dr Darjee was one of four psychiatrists to have seen Sako in the years after the murder to explore whether he was mentally fit at the time.

Ultimately, each found that while Sako had significant mental disorders, he did not meet the criteria for a mental impairment defence.

Three opined he was faking symptoms in an effort to avoid prosecution, while Dr Darjee told the court that he believed Sako was “exaggerating” symptoms.

“He can’t reconcile that he is a monstrous stalker,” he said.

“He was desperate to not be seen as a monster … He wanted a mental impairment defence so he could be seen in a more positive way.”

Dr Darjee told the court Sako remained a high risk of stalking behaviour in the future and could be a danger to female prison staff.

“He would have to feel they were attractive and special in the same way he felt the victim (was),” he said.

“I would want the staff in prison to watch out for this situation … because he has the propensity.”

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.

For more than a year leading up to her murder, Sako was obsessively messaging Ms Manno despite her rejecting his advances.

The court was told Ms Manno was the first person Sako had felt romantic feelings for, and she flew into a jealous rage after she posted a photo of her boyfriend on Instagram for the first time.

“It was on this particular night, the sight of Ms Manno with another man that triggered that rage, jealousy and humiliation,” prosecutor Patrick Bourke KC said.

On Tuesday afternoon, barrister Tim Marsh resumed acting on Sako’s behalf for the remainder of the pre-sentence hearing.

He had dumped Mr Marsh as his lawyer just two weeks earlier and chosen to represent himself.

The hearing continues.