Christopher Paniyiotou deleted all phone data after Jayde's murder, bail hearing continues

MAY 27, 2015

The State is expected to present its closing arguments on Wednesday seeking that Christopher Panayiotou, who is accused of masterminding the killing of his wife, Jayde, be denied bail by the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court. Panayiotou has now been behind bars for close to a month.

He is due to appear in the same court on June 19 with two other co-accused Thando Siyoni, who was a bouncer at the Infinity club in Algoa Park and apparently was the middleman in the abduction and murder, and the alleged hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke. Siyoni has reportedly turned State witness and reportedly helped police nab Panayiotou.

The hearing on Tuesday was delayed several times in the morning after the State announced that it wanted to submit a further affidavit by investigating officer, Lieutenant Rhynhardt Swanepoel. This new affidavit had additional information relating to the Cyprus passport and ID, which Panayiotou admitted he applied for in 2013. Hence, the State’s argument that he is a flight risk.

The State also said that his father, Costa, owns property in Cyprus and he has family there.

However, Panayiotou’s legal counsel, Advocate Terry Price said that his client did not have the passport in his possession and that it was still with the Cyprus Consulate in Pretoria. 

Swanepoel also revealed that attempts to retrieve data from Panayiotou’s cellphone were unsuccessful as it had been wiped clean several days after Jayde’s murder in April. State prosecutor, Advocate Marius Stander said that they wanted to check whether Panayiotou had received a text notification of the availability of his passport at the Cyprus Consulate as is standard practice at the Department of Home Affairs.

Price said Panayiotou had deleted information about his affair with his employee, Channelle Coutts as he wanted to save his family from embarrassment. He denied that details about the Cyprus passport had been deleted from Panayiotou’s cellphone.

Price accused the State of pedalling lies before the court about Panayiotou being in possession of the passport. He said there was no evidence to suggest that the passport had made its way to his client and that Panayiotou had neither received nor signed for the document.

He also said that the State had presented “unadulterated speculation” in the “desperation” to establish a motive – thereby turning a sexual affair into a motive for murder.

Price said Magistrate Abigail Beeton should find the State’s “flagrant” attempt to “mislead” the court as an “exceptional circumstance” to consider as a reason to grant his client bail.

Advocate Stander said that all Panayiotou had to do was to admit  that he had applied for the Cyprus passport. He said Panayiotou had not taken the court into his confidence by not revealing upfront that he had dual citizenship.

Stander said that the State believes that if Panayiotou is granted bail, he will evade trial and attempt to influence or intimidate witnesses or conceal evidence, assertions denied by the defence.

---Additional reporting AlgoaFM