Christopher Panayiotou’s lawyer wanted a copy of the statement made by Panayiotou’s lover Chanelle Coutts after his wife Jayde was killed, the Grahamstown High Court heard on Monday.
Panayiotou’s lawyer advocate Mike Hellens said that in an article in You magazine, Coutts said she had not implicated Panayiotou in her statement, and asked what harm could be done if the defence had access to it.
Coutts worked at a supermarket co-owned by Panayiotou and stood by him in the article, saying she believed he would be cleared.
Hellens said wanting the statements had a bearing on Panayiotou being held in prison, in a single cell, for at least another year until the case was heard.
Judge Glen Goosen wanted to know what weight he should put on the statement which was considered hearsay, but Hellens countered that hearsay was admissible in a bail application, and because the appeal is linked to the bail application, it is admissible.
Hellens also wanted to know why they were not handing over the statements, if the State claimed its case was so strong.
Panayiotou’s lawyers Alwyn Griebenow and Terry Price brought Hellens in to help with the application. Hellens has held a position as an acting judge and has represented Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, and former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown. He is also on the Judicial Services Commission.
Magistrate’s decision ‘wrong’
In his notice of appeal, Griebenow said Port Elizabeth Magistrate Abigail Beeton erroneously made findings in favour of the State even though such evidence was contradicted by far more reliable evidence from the defence; dismissed numerous material factors put to the court by Panayiotou; elevated the concept of exceptional and compelling circumstances to a degree not required by law; and found Panayiotou to be a flight risk and that he could interfere with witnesses, despite the fact that there was no reliable evidence supporting this.
Panayiotou, 28, is accused of conspiring to have 29-year-old Jayde murdered.
He allegedly hired Luthando 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 her.
She had been kidnapped on April 21, while waiting outside her complex in Kabeka Park for her lift to Riebeek College Girls’ High School in Uitenhage, where she worked as a teacher. Her body was found near KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, the next day.
Panayiotou was not at court for the appeal and was still behind bars at St Alban’s prison in Port Elizabeth.
Derrick Spies, News24 correspondent and Jenni Evans
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