Ricochet News

Panayiotou's bid to overturn conviction and sentence dismissed

May 17, 2018
Panayiotou's bid to overturn conviction and sentence dismissed

A bid by convicted murderer, Christopher Panayiotou, to appeal his conviction and sentence for his role in the abduction and subsequent murder of his wife, Jayde, in April 2015, suffered a major set back in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday.

This is after Judge Daylin Chetty, who presided over the trial, dismissed his application for leave to appeal.

On Wednesday, Panayiotou, who is serving a life sentence at the St Albans Correctional Facility for his role in the murder, made an application to appeal his conviction and sentence in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

His lawyer, Advocate Terry Price, argued that Judge Chetty showed bias and favoured the prosecution during the trial, which then means Panayiotou could not receive a fair trial.

He said that Judge Chetty had overlooked vital evidence during the trial and even ignored that fact that the supposed middleman, Luthando Siyoni, had allegedly been assaulted while in police custody for a confession - the same confession that was used to implicate Panayiotou.

Price argued that if the case was heard by another court, it might arrive at a different conclusion. He wants the Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the matter.

Panayiotou's co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, have also filed an application for leave to appeal their convictions. 

Their applications were also dismissed.

Panayiotou's legal team are now expected to petition the Supreme Court of Appeals directly.

Murder

On the 21st April 2015, Jade Panayiotou, who was 28 years old and worked as a school teacher, disappeared. She had last been seen outside her residence in Deacon Road Kabega Park waiting for her lift to her school in Uitenhage.

Police were alerted of her disappearance and an immediate manhunt was conducted by various police units assisted by members of the community in search of Jade Panayiotou.

On 22nd April 2015, her body was found in bushes in Kwanobuhle, outside Uitenhage. She had been shot three times in her chest, arm and head.

Between 27th April and 1st May 2015, three suspects including her husband, Christopher, were taken into police custody. 

Two suspects were later arrested.

In September 2016, the alleged hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke (30) passed away at Livingstone Hospital while awaiting trial.

Alleged middleman, Luthando Siyoni, was released in September 2016 after been held in custody in terms of Section 185 of the Criminal Procedure Act. He believed that his life was in danger but did not want to enter into the Witness Protection programme.

On 2nd November 2017, after a lengthy trial the three remaining accused were found guilty in the Port Elizabeth High Court. Christopher Panayiotou (31) was convicted for murder, Sinethemba Nemembe (28) was convicted for murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances and Zolani Sibeko (35) was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. 

The accused were sentenced as follows:

  • Christopher Panayiotou:  Murder: Life sentence
  • Sinethemba Nemembe:  Murder:  Life sentence and Robbery: 15 years. Robbery sentence will run concurrent with the murder sentence
  • Zolani Sibeko:  Conspiracy to commit murder: 15 years imprisonment.