Sick killer's 'lucid' recall

Bellinda Kontominas
April 22, 2008 - 1:36PM

A man who stabbed to death a Crows Nest restaurateur 12 times has pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of mental illness.

Gordon Szeto, who had been employed by Mario Acquaro, 42, at the Bravo Trattoria and Gelato Bar, admitted stabbing his former boss on January 8, 2007 in front of a number of horrified people.

Psychiatric reports tendered to the NSW Supreme Court revealed that Szeto had acute mental illness and suffered from chronic schizophrenia.

Szeto believed that Mr Acquaro had been operating a brothel and had been forcing his girlfriend to perform sexual acts for money.

He also believed that he had been under surveillance by authorities, the court heard.

Members of Mr Acuaro's family and his fiance Ewa Sojkowska cried as the court was shown a tape of Szeto being walked through the crime scene by police only hours after the stabbing.

In the tape, Szeto describes entering the restauraunt through a rear laneway and stabbing Mr Acquaro as he spoke to a family member on the phone.

"I stuck the knife straight in his neck from the front," Szeto tells the police with little tone to his voice. "I say to him, say you're sorry Mario."

Szeto tells police that Mr Acquaro stumbled into the lane and he then kneeled over him, stabbing him again and again.

When Mr Acquaro's fiance discovered them in the laneway, she attempted to stop the attack by hitting Szeto with her handbag but ran to a nearby shop and called police, the court heard.

The court also heard that Szeto's mental illness had come to the attention of authorities only months before the attack.

"It is a matter of concern I would say to the family ... that this may have been prevented by some action being taken at that time," Justice Roderick Howie told the court.

Justice Howie described the tape as one of the most "lucid" admissions he had ever seen. "What it is is his distorted thinking," he said.

Justice Howie will hand down his verdict tomorrow.