A man who pleaded guilty to murdering Melbourne woman Celeste Manno is moving to overturn his earlier guilty plea.
Lue Nader Sacco, 36, of Roxburgh Park, formally pleaded guilty in March after doctors testified he was mentally fit to stand trial.
Sacco appeared in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday with a new barrister, who will represent him at the trial if he is granted a face-off by the court.
Celeste Manno, 23, was murdered at her Melbourne home in November 2020.
Lue Sacco, 36, went to a local police station hours after Ms Manno’s death and was taken to hospital under police guard, and has been charged with murder.
Celeste Manno was early in life when she was stabbed to death in her own bed
Sacco was originally represented by high profile criminal barrister Sam Norton of Starry Norton Halfen.
With Sacco’s mental retardation defense no longer effective, Mr Norton suggested before the proceedings that his client would likely plead guilty to murder.
But when the matter returned to court, a frustrated Mr Norton suggested that Sacco had continued to use delaying tactics in the hope of settling the plea.
Mr Norton suggested he would be forced to drop Sacco as a client if he failed to plead guilty to the offence, which went ahead in March.
However, Sacco has since told the court that he now intends to plead not guilty.
In June, Sacco indicated that he would represent himself at trial if his plea deal was granted.
Sacco then told Justice Jane Dixon, ‘At the last hearing where I pleaded guilty, that decision was made on the day of the hearing and I felt I was under pressure and I still didn’t have an answer.’
Sacco was represented on Friday by Victorian Legal Aid barrister Glenn Cooper, whose guiding counsel only contacted Sacco on Wednesday.
Mr Cooper told the court he had no idea whether Sacco wanted to continue his bid to change his plea or go ahead with his initial plea hearing, which was booked for July 24.
Sacco’s backflip is the latest slap in the face for Ms Manno’s family after she originally pleaded not guilty to the stabbing in the hope of confirming an assessment from a forensic psychiatrist, which supported a claim that she was mentally unfit to commit the crime. health
Ms. Manno was Saco’s team leader at the Serco Call Center prior to her dismissal
Heartbroken mum Aggie De Mauro poses with her beloved daughter
Sacco allegedly smashed his former colleague’s window at his family home in Meranda, north-east of Melbourne, in November 2020 before stabbing him repeatedly as he lay in bed.
The road to bringing Sacco to justice has been long, with the accused killer repeatedly appearing in court over the years in an attempt to convince forensic doctors he was insane when he killed his victims.
In March last year, the court heard when Dr Andrew Carroll – for Sacco – argued that the killer was too mentally ill to properly instruct his lawyer, Dr Clare McInerney – for the prosecution – to believe that predestination could be cured.
Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke asked Sacco to be evaluated again – this time by forensic psychologist Professor James Ogoloff.
A plan to put Sacco on trial for his mental retardation was abandoned in February after the court heard that once conflicting doctors concluded that Sacco actually knew what he was doing at the time of the killing and was well enough to stand trial.
But even then, Sacco continued to try the method, hoping to delay his May 16 murder trial for a long time and convince doctors that he was too ill to stand trial again.
The court heard Sacco insisted on being kept away from other prisoners in an isolation unit where he refused at least one specialist medication that would have helped him stand trial for murder.
Sacco has repeatedly threatened to commit suicide if he is removed from his isolation cell, where he spends 23 hours a day on lockdown.
Ms. Manno’s long-suffering friends and family have already endured years of agony waiting for Sacco to stand trial.
Police alleged that Sacco struck late at night, killing Ms Manno before jumping over a blood-stained fence.
Sacco attended a local police station hours later and was taken to hospital under police guard and treated for hand injuries that required surgery.
At Sacco’s first court hearing in 2020, the court heard that Sacco had no mental health problems and was not on any medication when he killed his 23-year-old victim.
Sacco was released to live in the community at the time of the killing after being charged with violating a restraining order.
Ms Manno was Saco’s team leader at a Serco call center in South Morang and comforted him when he left the company a year ago.
Sacco is due back in court on July 24.