A psychotic man shot dead by police as he repeatedly stabbed his mother with a stick ranted about being a ‘demon warrior’ just days prior, a coroner has heard.
Police rushed to a reserve in Gladstone Park in Melbourne’s north-west on July 16 in response to multiple Triple-0 calls about a woman being attacked.
Officers arrived to find Lillia Messo, 54, being brutally assaulted by her son Gabriel Messo, 30, in a frenzied and sickening attack.
Confronting footage shows the moment police shot dead Mr Messo dead after he ignored repeated orders to stop stabbing his mother, who was rushed to hospital in a critical condition.
Almost three weeks on, Ms Messo is still recovering in hospital in a stable condition and is yet to be formally interviewed by police.
She needs facial reconstructive surgery and is expected to lose her sight in one eye.
A Coroner’s Court directions hearing heard details about Mr Messo’s final weeks, where he had moved from his parents’ home into a sharehouse and confided in a family friend about his mental health battle.
Counsel assisting the Coroner Lindsay Spence told the court Mr Messo had been behaving erratically, the Herald Sun reported.
‘He showed physical aggression and verbal abuse at times towards his family and in a further meeting a couple of days later Mr Messo was described as being very erratic — ranting and raving and talking about being a “demon warrior” and fighting the demons,’ Mr Spence told the court.
More details about the lead-up to Mr Messo’s final moments were also revealed.
He was captured on CCTV pacing up and down the footpath in John Coutts Reserve before stopping to take off his shoes and socks, which were placed on a park bench, along with a water bottle and notebook.
When his mother arrived a short time later, she was pushed to the ground by her son and violently attacked.
‘On arriving the police officers observed Mr Messo was attacking his mother to the head … using repeated upward and downward stabbing motions with an implement later determined to be a stick,’ Mr Spence said.
The Coroner will examine footage captured by witnesses at the upcoming inquest after it was revealed the officer involved in the shooting was wearing a body camera but had not turn it on prior to the incident.
The inquest will also hear about Mr Messo’s six year battle with mental health issues, which first came to the attention of police in 2016.
He told a family friend he suffered severe hallucinations as a result of cannabis use and was schizophrenic but declined treatment because the medication ‘made him feel lifeless’, the court heard.
It was also revealed Mr Messo was arrested a day prior to his death in relation to reports of an early morning aggravated burglary at his aunt and uncle’s house.
Mr Messo told police he was there to speak to his cousin.
He was taken to the hospital for a mental health assessment before being discharged and taken back to a police station to be interviewed, the Age reported.
Mr Messo was charged with criminal damage and assault and released on bail.
He had no criminal convictions at the time of his death.
The inquest has been adjourned to a later date for homicide detectives to complete a brief of evidence.
The Homicide Squad, with oversight from Professional Standards Command continues to investigate the incident.
State Coroner John Cain acknowledged the family’s grief and loss and wished Ms Messo a speedy recovery.
Her son had only moved into the Gladstone Park home across the road from the reserve about three weeks prior to his death.
His housemate, Sylvester told Daily Mail Australia he lived in fear of Mr Messo and said it was only a matter of time before he killed someone.
‘He’s not really 100 per cent (mentally). But that poor mother was always coming here, giving food, washing the clothes – still all the washing clothes are outside and inside for him,’ he said.
‘I knew there was something wrong with him, but he’s got angry with the mother.’
Sylvester said his mother loved her troubled son despite his wild behaviour.
Neighbours recalled her visiting her son up to four time a week.
‘She brought him food and put it in the fridge all the time … She did everything. I feel so sorry for her,’ he said. ‘She’s a very nice lady,’ Sylvester said.
In the days before the horrific attack, Mr Messo was heard to be in constant arguments with people on the phone.
He was also heard to argue with his mum.
‘He sometimes argued with mum as well,’ Sylvester said. ‘But when I’m there he (doesn’t).’
Sylvester said while he never believed Messo was capable of murder, he was not surprised at his violent outburst.
‘I knew something was wrong with him,’ he said. ‘I never believe that he’s guilty of bashing his own mother … then I realised this is the guy. He can do that thing.’