Coutts’s visit to Panayiotou in prison under spotlight, as well as advocate’s ‘generosity’
Jibes were exchanged between the main characters in the Jayde Panayiotou murder trial yesterday, as the investigating officer spent another day under rigorous cross-examination. At one point, defence advocate Terry Price SC told Captain Kanna Swanepoel he was so well balanced because he had a chip on both shoulders.
Not letting the insult fly, Swanepoel asked Price about paying for an eye test for a state witness who did a U-turn on her testimony in court.
Swanepoel said not only had Price footed the bill, he had paid for the girlfriend of self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni to receive contact lenses for six months. All this was apparently done before the defence’s application to consult with Babalwa Breakfast.
Price, explaining his gesture was “generous”, warned Swanepoel to be careful with his insinuations.
The defence has since claimed Breakfast could not have read her own statement as testified to by the police because she was “legally blind”.
It is the state’s case that businessman Christopher Panayiotou, 30, asked Siyoni to find hitmen to kidnap and murder his wife in April 2015.
Panayiotou was arrested by Swanepoel after he allegedly implicated himself during a conversation with Siyoni. A video recording of the two talking in a wired car is now the subject of a trial-within-a-trial.
Price said yesterday that many of the state’s submissions during Panayiotou’s bail application in May 2015 had never materialised.
Prosecutor Marius Stander had claimed the motive for the killing was because Jayde had spent too much money.
Stander said the state would conduct an extensive investigation into Panayiotou’s finances to show he was in big financial trouble.
In addition, he claimed Panayiotou’s father, Costa, had threatened to disinherit him should he choose to divorce Jayde and not put a stop to his affair with Chanelle Coutts.
But Price said the promised probe into Panayiotou’s finances had still not taken place. In addition, the claim that Costa had threatened to disinherit his son was nothing more than a claim made by former family friend and member of the investigating team, Warrant Officer Leon Eksteen.
Price accused Swanepoel and Stander of treating Coutts with complete disrespect.
He referred back to an incident in February in which an undercover policeman had tried to film Coutts visiting Panayiotou in prison.
“The court denied the defence’s application to consult with Coutts. Coutts and Panayiotou knew they could not talk. The family now present in court knew they could not talk,” Swanepoel responded.
“Yet Coutts even went to visit Panayiotou with [his] family.”
Price retorted that there was nothing wrong with this as long as the case was not discussed.
“Why then did she write in the visitor’s register that she was visiting another detainee, [German murder accused] Jens Leunberg,” asked Swanepoel.
Price responded that the Panayiotou family was simply kind to Leunberg, whose family was abroad.