Port Elizabeth - After a bail application spanning some two weeks, Christopher Panayiotou, the man charged with orchestrating the murder of his school teacher wife Jayde, will on Friday find out if he will have to await his trial from prison or the comfort of his home.
Panayiotou, dressed in a casual black tracksuit top, seemed calm as he followed proceedings in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
During intervals in the court proceedings he spoke only to his parents and his advocate, Terry Price.
When the bail application resumed on Thursday morning, Magistrate Abigail Beaton was ready to deliver her verdict on whether to grant the 28-year-old bail or not.
However, she asked a number of additional questions of the State and the defence before asking for more time to reconsider her judgment which will now be delivered on Friday.
Beaton asked Price what he deemed to be a suitable amount for bail, to which he responded that considering his client’s financial position, R50 000 would be a fair amount.
Beaton then asked State advocate Marius Stander what his opinion was on Panayiotou’s willingness to hand over his South African passport and his Cypriot ID-card.
According to Stander, handing over his Cypriot ID-card did not make the accused any less of a fligh risk. He said while Panayiotou could be “flagged” in South Africa, it differed in other countries.
Because Stander believes Panayiotou could influence and interfere with the state witnesses, Beaton wanted to know exactly what the State’s position was regarding witnesses.
Stander said Panayiotou’s lover, Chanelle Coutts, and her friend would lead direct evidence pertaining to the motive for the killing, while Luthando Siyoli’s (Panayiotou’s co-accused) girlfriend had directly
implicated Panayiotou with the handing over of money to Siyoli.
When the strength of the State’s case and the motive for the killing were discussed, Price accused the State of “thumb-sucking” their case to attribute motive to the accused.
“The state does not have a strong case against my client. Suggesting that his affair is a motive for murder is laughable. It is pure unadulterated thumb sucking.
“Considering the evidence at hand I would not be so confident if I was the State. I would never go to court with evidence like that,” Price said.
Price said the only contribution that Coutts would make to the state’s case was to come and say they were having an affair.
“When she gets into that witness box I am going to object. Having an affair does not make you a murderer,” said Price.
He further criticised Stander’s assertion that his client was cash-strapped and that he could “cook” the books of his various businesses if he was released on bail.
The State’s case is that the accused could not cope financially with the combined demands of his wife and his girlfriend and it was part of the reason he had her killed.
“This is the most laughable. My client is comfortable. I wish I had R3.1 million in assets, I certainly won’t be standing here. Why he would cook the books, God only knows,” Price added.
Stander quickly retorted: “The bottom line is the State can prove a motive, and they will.”
Stander said getting a divorce from Jayde was not an option for the accused because his family would disinherit him.
Stander added that he has it in writing, in an affidavit, that the accused was spending too much money and that he was buying a house against his will, and that is why he had Jayde killed.
Price immediately challenged Stander to show the defence this affidavit. Price formally made an application to court for the defence to get the said affidavit, but withdrew when it came to light the
information was contained in the investigating officers original affidavit.