Killer Panayiotou launches ap­peal

The Mercury - - NEWS - Raahil Sain

THE un­der­cover sting oper­a­tion in which con­victed killer Christopher Panayiotou was im­pli­cated in the mur­der of his wife, Jayde, should not have been used against him.

This was ar­gued by de­fence advocate Terry Price, who was ap­ply­ing for leave to ap­peal against Panayiotou’s con­vic­tion in the Port El­iz­a­beth High Court yes­ter­day. Panayiotou was found guilty of the 2015 mur­der of his wife in Novem­ber last year.

The court had re­lied on in­for­ma­tion pro­vided from the sting oper­a­tion to con­vict Panayiotou.

In the oper­a­tion, a con­ver­sa­tion Panayiotou had with a so-called mid­dle­man in the crime, Luthando Siy­oni, had been recorded. In it Siy­oni had im­pli­cated Panayiotou in Jayde’s mur­der.

But Price ar­gued yes­ter­day be­fore Judge Day­alin Chetty that what Siy­oni said to the busi­ness­man in the car was in­ad­mis­si­ble. “Your lord­ship found that Mr Siy­oni was not an ac­cused per­son but a wit­ness.

“Mr Siy­oni was an ac­cused, an ac­com­plice and that ev­i­dence could not be used against an­other ac­cused (Panayiotou).” Re­fer­ring to case law, Price ar­gued that a Sec­tion 204 wit­ness was an ac­cused. There­fore, the video ev­i­dence was not per­mis­si­ble against the busi­ness­man. “With re­spect, your lord­ship must grant leave to ap­peal on that ba­sis alone.”

Price ar­gued that Judge Chetty did not once in his judg­ment men­tion that search war­rants were not ob­tained when police searched Siy­oni’s house and his girl­friend Ba­balwa Break­fast’s house.

If a search was con­ducted with­out a war­rant, that ev­i­dence be­came in­ad­mis­si­ble, he said.

Price said Siy­oni told three police of­fi­cers that he was as­saulted dur­ing de­ten­tion, but his claims were not once fol­lowed up.

Judge Chetty had also found War­rant Of­fi­cer Leon Ek­steen an out­stand­ing wit­ness but did not men­tion in his judg­ment how Ek­steen was heard on tape call­ing Siy­oni the K-word, Price said.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing Of­fi­cer Cap­tain Kanna Swanepoel used un­due in­flu­ence and told Siy­oni to im­pli­cate Panayiotou, he added.

“All the fin­gers point to as­sault from the word go,” Price said.

“There is enough here for an­other court to come to a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion. I’m go­ing to ask your lord­ship to grant us leave to the Supreme Court of Ap­peal.”

State advocate Mar­ius Stander op­posed the ap­pli­ca­tion, say­ing Price was in­cor­rect in ap­ply­ing the test. “An­other court might come to a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion – that is not the test. The test is if there is a re­al­is­tic chance that the ap­pli­ca­tion may suc­ceed,” said Stander.

At­tor­ney Peter Dauber­mann sought leave to ap­peal against Sinethemba Nen­embe’s con­vic­tion and Zolani Sibeko’s con­vic­tion and sen­tence.

Panayiotou is serv­ing a life sen­tence for the mur­der.

Nen­embe was found guilty of mur­der and rob­bery with ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances while Sibeko was found guilty of con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der, in con­nec­tion with Jayde’s mur­der.

Judge Chetty sen­tenced Nen­embe to life im­pris­on­ment for mur­der and 15 years for rob­bery. Sibeko was jailed for 15 years on con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der.

Judg­ment is ex­pected to be handed down to­day. – African News Agency (ANA)

PIC­TURE: LINDI MASINGA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Marinda Steyn sits in the dock of the Jo­han­nes­burg High Court yes­ter­day af­ter be­ing sen­tenced to a to­tal of 115 years be­hind bars.

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