true crime

Stalked and murdered. Celeste's killer will eventually walk free from jail.

This post discusses violence against women. 

Aggie Di Mauro is heartbroken. Heartbroken that the man who brutally murdered her daughter, Celeste Manno, has been shown a level of mercy her daughter was denied. 

She’s also angry. Furious with a justice system that will ultimately see her daughter’s killer released from jail. 

On February 29, the Supreme Court sentenced Luay Sako to 36 years in prison. He has already served three of those, and will be eligible for parole after 30 years. At that time, he'll be 65-years-old. Celeste was just 23 when he killed her.

"It's unbelievable that the court decided to show him mercy, even when he showed Celeste none," Aggie said following the court proceeding. 

Watch: Can I Tell You A Secret  - Trailer - Netflix. Post continues after the video. 

Video via Netflix.

Sako brutally murdered Celeste more than three years ago now, following a months-long campaign of stalking, encompassing incessant text messaging that increased in both frequency and intensity as time went on. 

Aside from a brief interaction following his short stint working at the same call centre as her, Sako was essentially a stranger to Celeste. A stranger who had become dangerously obsessed with her. 


Over almost a year, Sako created multiple social media accounts to contact and harass Celeste, sending her messages that varied from derogatory, vulgar to sexually explicit - more than 140 in total. With kindness, Celeste repeatedly asked Sako to leave her alone. When he didn’t she sought help from police. He was issued an interim intervention order, which he contested, however he was arrested for breaching the order the following month. Despite his arrest, Sako was released back into the community. The messages continued, but their tone had changed. He was angry. 

In November 2020, as Celeste slept, Sako broke into her family home and brutally stabbed her to death with a kitchen knife. Left with 23 stab wounds, Celeste was found by her heartbroken mother, Aggie, who has passionately and unwaveringly called for justice since her daughter’s murder. 

Outside court, Aggie visibly shook as she shared her devastation; her heartbreak over the loss of her daughter, a life taken by violence, at the hands of a man who decided he was entitled to her. 

"I don't believe in parole. I don't believe in releasing murderers to murder again," Aggie said. 

"This was in the middle of the night, in our home. We did not know him.

"At this point I can only pray that the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and the Court of Appeal recognise that true justice in this case demands a life sentence.

"That little trust that I had left in this system has been completely destroyed by today’s outcome."


Aggie has called for the electronic monitoring of stalking offenders, and believes Celeste's murder could have been prevented had her killer been monitored after being served with the Intervention Order. 

"Without monitoring someone like this, you cannot prevent what happened to Celeste again."

Upon hearing the judge would not be handing down a life sentence, Celeste’s family broke down. 

"Celeste deserved life, but you decided otherwise," Justice Dixon told the court. "After attacking Celeste, you dropped the knife on the bedroom floor and left via a window. You carried out the attack with chilling efficiency."

And yet, Sako will eventually be released from prison. 

Calls for law reform have, so far, fallen on deaf ears.

Celeste’s murder was the first non-domestic violence related stalking murder to gain enough attention to prompt action. 

In June 2021, following pressure from Celeste's family and friends, and growing interest from the public, the Victorian Law Reform Commission called for submissions to gauge community beliefs about the current stalking system and what needed to change. 

A series of recommendations were established as a result of the commission, but little real action has taken place.

Stalking has been thrust back into the spotlight recently, following the alleged murders of Jesse Baird and Luke Davies. Their alleged killer, police officer Beau Lamarre-Condon had been reportedly stalking Jesse for some time before the couple’s murders. Jesse had not reported any stalking to police, but it’s understood he did tell family and friends. He isn’t alone. 


Less than 50 per cent of stalking incidents are reported to police. In around 77 per cent of those cases, victim-survivors endure up to 100 incidents before they make the initial report. 

The barriers are multifaceted and complex. Some people fear retaliation, many aren’t even sure that what’s taking place is stalking. Research shows some victims simply don’t believe filing a report will lead to a positive outcome or even prompt an investigation.

The root cause appears to be a lack of understanding of both the crime and how to manage it, but there are also other factors – lack of training, limited resources, difficulty obtaining evidence, time constraints, prosecution challenges and attitudes. It’s undoubtedly complex, and stalking reports are often pushed to the side, sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

We can only hope now, that Celeste's murder, that Jesse’s murder, have not been in vain. 

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here.

Feature image: Supplied.