Obsessed stalker Luay Sako, 36, who stabbed to death his co-worker Celeste Manno, 23, in her Melbourne home delays sentencing with new request for mental evaluation
- Luay Sako pleaded guilty to the murder of Celeste Manno
- Sako failed in mental disability offer
- The 36-year-old woman allegedly broke into her home and stabbed her
- Sako has delayed his guilty plea for months.
A man who pleaded guilty to the murder of Melbourne woman Celeste Manno continues to delay his sentence months after a failed attempt to avoid justice with a mental disability claim.
Luay Nader Sako, 36, of Roxburgh Park, formally pleaded guilty in March after doctors testified that he was mentally fit to stand trial.
Sako appeared in the Supreme Court Victoria on Monday with a new lawyer, Tim Marsh, who told the court his client needed to see another forensic psychiatrist before he could hold his preliminary declaration of sentencing hearing.
Celeste Manno, 23, was murdered in her Melbourne home in November 2020.
Luay Sako, 36, went to a local police station hours after Ms. Manno’s death and was taken to hospital under police surveillance and charged with murder.
Celeste Manno was in the prime of her life when she was stabbed to death in her own bed.
Sako had been scheduled to have that hearing on Monday, clearing the way for his sentencing before Judge Jane Dixon.
Instead, it will now be heard in October to allow another doctor to submit a report detailing Sako’s mental health diagnosis at the time of the alleged murder.
Lawyers often use mental health reports to help reduce the length of their clients’ jail sentences.
Sako allegedly broke his former colleague’s window at his family’s home in Mernda, Melbourne’s north-east, before repeatedly stabbing her with a knife as she lay in bed in November 2020.
The road to bringing Sako to justice has been a long one, with the alleged killer appearing in court repeatedly over the years in an effort to convince coroners that he was insane when he killed his victim.
In March last year, the court heard that while Dr. Andrew Carroll, on Sako’s behalf, argued that the killer was too mentally ill to properly direct his lawyers, Dr. Clare McInerney, for the prosecution, believed the prognosis could be cured.
Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke called for Sako to be assessed once more, this time by forensic psychologist Professor James Ogloff.
A plan to put Sako on trial for his mental disability was dropped in February when the court heard that once-conflicting doctors concluded that Sako knew what he was doing at the time of the murder and was well enough to stand trial.
But even then, Sako tried to delay his May 16 murder trial long enough to convince doctors that he was again too sick to stand trial.
The court heard that Sako insisted on being locked away from other inmates in an isolation unit where he refused to take medication that at least one expert believed would help him stand trial for murder.
Ms. Manno was Sako’s team leader at a Serco call center before he was fired.
Sako had originally been represented by high-profile criminal lawyer Sam Norton of Stary Norton Halphen until his guilty plea in March.
The court heard that Mr. Norton was forced to stop representing Sako at his plea hearing.
The delay in Sako’s hearing is the latest blow to Ms. Manno’s family after they he originally pleaded not guilty to knife murder in anticipation of obtaining an evaluation from a forensic psychiatrist to support the claim that he was not capable of committing the crime. crime due to his poor mental health.
Sako had repeatedly threatened to kill himself if he were released from his solitary confinement cell, where he spends up to 23 hours a day locked up.
Ms. Manno’s long-suffering friends and family have already endured years of agony waiting for Sako to face justice.
Police allege that Sako had attacked in the dead of night, killing Ms. Manno before jumping over a fence that was stained with blood.
Sako went to a local police station hours later and was taken to hospital under police surveillance and treated for a hand injury that required surgery.
At Sako’s first court hearing in 2020, the court heard that Sako had no mental health problems and was not taking any medication at the time his 23-year-old victim was killed.
Sako had been released to live in the community at the time of the murder after being charged with violating a restraining order.
Ms. Manno was Sako’s team leader at a Serco call center in South Morang and comforted him when he left the company a year earlier.
Sako will return to court in October.