Panayiotou back in the cells – for now

By admin
27 May 2015

Christopher Panayiotou will have to spend another weekend in the St Albans holding cells as he waits for the outcome of his bail application.

Magistrate Abigail Beeton on Wednesday postpones the case to June 4, when she will hand down her judgment on whether Panayiotou would be granted bail.

Panayiotou, 28, is accused of being the master-mind behind the murder of his wife Jayde on April 21 this year. He faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder‚ kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the ends of justice. Thando Siyoli‚ 31‚ and Sizwezakhe Vumazonke‚ 30‚ are Panayiotou’s co-accused. Panayiotou has been in the St Albans holding cells since his arrest on April 29. "I only get samp and bread in prison, sometimes a debatable piece of meat,” he said last week. “My mother brings me food."

Gruelling bail application

In a gruelling bail application that has stretched over almost a month, the court has heard details of Panayiotou's ‘cold and calculated’ plans to have his wife killed, dating as far back as last year September.

Evidence has been submitted by State Prosecutor, Marius Stander, that there were previous failed attempts on Jayde's life before that fateful Tuesday last month.

The court has heard how Jayde's final moments played out. How, while waiting for her lift to the school where she taught, standing outside the townhouse complex in Kabega Park where she stayed with Panayiotou, she was hit over the head with blunt force, kidnapped, bundled into the boot of a hired vehicle and driven out to a deserted area. She was then shot three times, twice in the back and once, at close range, to the head.

The state also made available a transcript of a conversation between accused number 1, Siyoli, who is believed to have been the middle man, and Panayiotou, wherein they discuss the circumstances around Jayde's death and where Panayiotou gives Siyoli R 5 000 to disappear.

Affair

Also central to evidence led was the fact that Panayiotou was having an extra-marital sexual relationship with Chanelle Coutts, 26, who worked as an assistant manager under Panayiotou at the OK Grocer in Algoa Park.

The state has argued that the motive for the murder was because Panayiotou was unable to maintain his lifestyle and both women at the same time, as he was increasingly finding himself in debt.

Panayiotou admitted the affair, but said that it had not impacted on his marriage.

The state also focused on the fact that Panayiotou has dual citizenship for Cyprus, with family there, and as such was a potential flight risk. They alleged that he had also tampered with evidence, wiping both his and his mistress’s phones. He also allegedly instructed Siyoli to destroy a sim card and gave him money to evade the police.

Stander said the state opposed bail predominantly on the basis of Panayiotou being a flight risk and him tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses.

Passport ‘not relevant’

Advocate Terry Price, representing Panayiotou, has argued that the State does not have as strong a case as it would like to believe.

The defence has argued that the issue of Panayiotou's Cypriot passport was not relevant as it had not been collected and that the State had deliberately misrepresented the facts around the passport to create the impression that Panayiotou was a flight risk.

Price also highlighted concerns over the likelihood of Siyoli turning State witness, concerns over misrepresentation of his client’s financial situation and the fact that, should he remain in custody, the businesses that Panayiotou ran would suffer, impacting on at least 60 people employed by him.

Price further said that just because Panayiotou had had an affair, it did not make him guilty of murder.

Twists and turns

With many twists and turns, and at often times heated exchanges between the State and the defence and numerous delays, both sides finally concluded their arguments on Wednesday.

Beeton indicated that, as this had been more than a normal bail application, there was a substantial amount of information that had been submitted before her.

She addressed Panayiotou directly and made it clear that she wanted to apply her mind to the case and, while she accepted that he had already been in holding for a while, he would need to wait a little longer before she handed down her judgement. Panayiotou said he understood.

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