Panayiotou should not be in jail until proved guilty - lawyer

2015-07-20 16:51
Lawyer Terry Price talks to the parents of Christopher Panayiotou at the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court. (Derrick Spies, News24 Correspondent)

Lawyer Terry Price talks to the parents of Christopher Panayiotou at the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court. (Derrick Spies, News24 Correspondent)

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Grahamstown – Murder accused Christopher Panayiotou should not be subjected to prison conditions as he is innocent until proven guilty, his lawyer told the Grahamstown High Court on Monday.

Port Elizabeth magistrate Abigail Beeton’s statement that prison was not intended to be a holiday could not be forgiven, Mike Hellens SC, told the court. Panayiotou is appealing Beeton’s decision, handed down on June 5, to deny him bail.

Judge Glen Goosen said he would hand down judgment on July 28.

Should the appeal fail, Panayiotou would spend at least another year in jail before his trial started, Hellens said.

The 28-year-old is accused of hiring two other men to kill his schoolteacher wife, Jayde Panayiotou, 29.

Hellens said although the court could not do anything about the conditions at St Albans Prison, it needed to take them into consideration when making a ruling.

He said the state’s focus on Panayiotou's travel history, and the ease with which he could do so, was reckless. The state had argued that Panayiotou was a flight risk as he had dual South African and Cypriot citizenship.

Earlier, prosecutor Marius Stander said Panayiotou had deleted information from cellphones, destroyed SIM cards, and instructed a key witness, Luthando Siyoli, to lay low.

He rejected Panayiotou’s claim that he deleted information to prevent his family from finding out about his sexual relationship with Chanelle Coutts.

He did it out of fear of being found out as police were asking questions, Stander said.

Hellens countered that Panayiotou deleted information from the cellphones of his wife and mistress to prevent being subjected to shame and embarrassment should the affair come to light.

Panayiotou allegedly hired Siyoli, 31, a bouncer in his employ at the Infinity club in Algoa Park, Port Elizabeth, to find a hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, 30, to kidnap and murder his wife.

Jayde was kidnapped on Tuesday, April 21, while waiting outside her complex in Kabega Park for her lift to Riebeek College Girls' High School in Uitenhage, where she taught. Her body was found near KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, the next day.

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