Boyfriend of a cheerleader killed in her home reveals her charismatic personality meant she always had to ‘keep admirers at bay’ – as an alleged stalker is charged over her death
- Celeste Manno, 23, was found dead at home in Melbourne’s north on Monday
- Luay Sako, 35, was on Thursday charged with one count of murder over death
- Ms Manno’s boyfriend Chris Ridsdale shared heartbreaking tribute to Facebook
The boyfriend of Celeste Manno has revealed the ‘beautiful’ and ‘charismatic’ former cheerleader would turn heads when she walked into a room as an alleged stalker is charged with her murder.
Ms Manno was just days shy of her 24th birthday when she was found dead in her home at Mernda, to Melbourne‘s northeast, at about 4.10am on Monday.
Luay Sako, 35, was on Thursday charged with one count of murder after spending three nights under police guard in hospital, after allegedly stalking her for months.
Ms Manno’s shattered boyfriend Chris Ridsdale opened up about his ‘one of a kind’ girlfriend in a lengthy post shared to Facebook, saying she often attracted attention wherever she went.
‘I can’t seem to find the words to express how I’m feeling at this time, so instead I thought I’d share what Celeste was like as a person in the too-short time that I knew her and how much she meant to all of us,’ he wrote.
Melbourne woman Celeste Manno (right) is pictured with her boyfriend Chris Ridsdale (left), who shared a moving tribute to her online
Mr Ridsdale remember his 23-year-old girlfriend in a heartbreaking Facebook tribute (pictured)
‘Celeste was the kind of person who lit up a room as soon as she walked in. Heads would turn.
‘To say she was beautiful would be an understatement. It was so much more than the way she looked. Celeste was graceful, elegant, charismatic, passionate and old fashioned – a one of a kind.
Mr Ridsdale said his girlfriend would always attract the attention of those nearby.
‘It would be a challenge to keep them at bay,’ he said.
Mr Ridsdale said he was lucky that Ms Manno chose him to ‘share her love’.
He continued: ‘I say share, because her biggest love was her family.
‘Celeste always made time for everyone she cared about but would always put her family above all else.’
Mr Ridsdale said his late girlfriend’s often attracted attention whenever she walked into a room (pictured)
The heartbroken boyfriend said Ms Manno looked up to her mother with adoration and her little brother Alessandro ‘was her pride and joy’.
‘To have known Celeste was to have been blessed,’ Mr Ridsdale said.
‘Such a kind, caring and selfless soul who had an impact on everyone she came into contact with.’
Mr Ridsdale said he has been staring at a birthday card Ms Manno wrote for him two months ago.
He said the card explained ‘how much I meant to her, how grateful she was to have me in her life and how much she had planned for the future’.
‘It breaks my heart knowing that I won’t get the chance to fulfil those plans she was so excited for.’
Sako was expected to face at Melbourne Magistrates Court via video link, but technical issues from the West Melbourne police cells meant he did not appear during the brief late-night hearing.
Luay Sako, 35, handed himself in to local police hours after Ms Manno’s death
Ms Manno was just days shy of her 24th birthday when she was found dead in her home at Mernda, to the city’s northeast, at about 4.10am on Monday
Solicitor Sam Norton represented Sako in his stead, as police requested more time to gather evidence.
Detective Michael Drew said police were not in possession of all relevant CCTV footage and were dealing with a significant volume of telecommunications records and crime scene exhibits.
Sako has been placed on remand until April 27 when he’s due to appear via video link for a committal mention.
Mr Norton noted his client had never previously been in police custody.
Ms Manno was Sako’s team leader at a Serco call centre in South Morang and comforted him when he left the company a year ago.
Mr Ridsdale hopes his tribute showcases what an ‘incredible’ person Ms Manno was
On Wednesday, Mr Ridsdale revealed his late girlfriend’s excitement to upload the first photo of them as a couple to her social media.
‘We took this picture on Saturday this week,’ Mr Ridsdale wrote.
‘We talked and joked about how this would be the first picture of us together on her social media and she was so excited to share it with everyone.
‘I was told, very clearly, that this was to be my new profile picture.’
Mr Ridsdale said he rarely uses his social media accounts, but uploaded it on Wednesday as a special tribute Ms Manno.
‘Now it seems like the best thing I can do for her. To show everyone how much she meant to me and how beautiful she was,’ he said.
Pictured: The crime scene in Mernda where Ms Manno was found dead this week