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Luay Sako Behind Bars For Killing Co-Worker Celeste Manno

A man in Australia who stalked his former co-worker for months before killing her has been sentenced to 36 years in jail.

Luay Sako broke into Celeste Manno’s home in Melbourne in 2020 and stabbed her 23 times in two-and-a-half minutes.

Prosecutors said the attack happened hours after she posted a photo online with her new boyfriend.

Thursday’s verdict outraged Ms. Manno’s family, who said Sako should have been jailed for life.

He began stalking Ms. Manno, 23, in 2019 after he was fired from the call center where they both worked.

He began sending her messages, which, despite Ms. Manno begging him to stop, became increasingly desperate and obsessive.

Ms. Manno reported Sako to the police and was able to get an interim restraining order.

However, he was not deterred, and he 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 November 16, 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 then viciously stabbed Ms. Manno to death as she was sleeping, fleeing minutes later. Her body was found by her mother shortly afterward.

Sako later drove to a police station, where he blamed law enforcement officers for her murder and 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.”

According to Australian public broadcaster ABC, there were tears in the court on Thursday when Justice Jane Dixon revealed she would not hand Sako a life sentence—the most severe legal penalty in the state of Victoria—for what she described as an “appalling crime.”

Justice Dixon told the court his case did not warrant life imprisonment because the now 39-year-old had been diagnosed with an extreme personality disorder, which “caused a significant impairment” of his mental functioning at the time of the offense.

The judge acknowledged that she was well aware of the “devastating impact” of the crime on Ms. Manno’s family and friends, many of whom were in court for the verdict.

Under the terms of his sentence, Sako will be eligible for parole in 2050.

“It’s unbelievable that the court decided to show him mercy, even when he showed Celeste none,” Ms. Manno’s mother, Aggie Di Mauro, said outside the Supreme Court, shortly after the sentence was handed down.

She tore up a speech she had prepared to read in front of dozens of journalists, and the judge handed down the life sentence.

“Today’s outcome proves just how flawed the justice system is,” she said, adding that she hoped Sako’s sentence would be upgraded on appeal.

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