Christopher Panayiotou hires another high-profile lawyer
Christopher Panayiotou is apparently not leaving his chances to fate as he has reportedly beefed up his defence team by adding another high-profile attorney to his counsel ahead of the start of his trial on Friday.
Panayiotou’s lawyer, Alwyn Griebenow, confirmed to EWN that the disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman will rope in Advocate Mike Hellens, who will primarily deal with the appeal of Panayiotou’s bail refusal.
Hellens joins well-known Advocate Terry Price, who’s been at the forefront of Panayiotou’s battle to be released on bail.
Magistrate Abigail Beeton refused to grant him bail two weeks ago, stating that he was a flight risk - and clearly stating that there was a strong case aganist Panayiotou.
Hellens has represented the likes of convicted fraudster, J Athur Brown, and slain mining magnate, Brett Kebble.
He is expected to exclusively handle Panayiotou’s appeal of a decision by Magistrate Beeton refusing him bail.
Panayiotou’s legal team would not say when they plan on filing the papers.
Meanwhile, the State will be going into the trial with from a strong base.
Prosecutors were recently reported to be awaiting DNA evidence that was lifted from the cash Panayiotou allegedly used to pay the alleged hired killers – this is in addition to the video footage and telephonic conversations, the State previously indicated that it has in its possession.
As a further confident boost, two Fridays ago, Panayiotou, who is a Port Elizabeth businessman and believed to be the mastermind in his wife, Jayde’s, murder was denied bail by the same court amid fears that he would abscond.
Presiding Magistrate, Abigail Beaton, did not hide her feelings that Panayiotou has a case to answer and that the State had built a strong case against him.
The State has also indicated that it managed to get co-accused, Thando Siyoli, the former bouncer at Panayiotou’s Infinity Night club and the alleged middleman in the murder case.
Siyoli is the one who lured Panayiotou into exposing himself in a sting operation that was set up by the police to trap Panayiotou when he handed him an extra payment.
Early this month, during Panayiotou’s failed bid for bail, the NPA and Prosecution confirmed in court that Panayiotou's mistress, Chanelle Coutts, will testify against him when trial starts on June 19.
She is expected to shed light on "direct motive" for Jayde Panayiotou's kidnapping and killing.
Panayiotou has been in custody at St Alban's Prison since his arrest on April 29 - Jayde disappeared on April 21 and her body was discovered on April 22.
He faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder‚ kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the ends of justice.
Still, Panayiotou's lawyers believe the State has a weak case against him.
Panayiotou's lawyer Price said the State's description of the motive for the murder of Jayde was a "thumbsuck" and a "lie".
"This is pure poor unadulterated thumbsuck," he said, making a last ditch bid for Panayiotou to be released on bail.
He said everything the State has presented so far was just speculation.
"There is a smell in this courtroom and I suspect that it will continue into the trial," added Price.
If there was a statement saying she was killed for money, he wanted to see it.
To see how Jayde’s story unfolded, click HERE.
---additional reporting EWN.
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