Chris was my son and friend – Jayde’s father

NO EYE CONTACT: Murder accused Christopher Panayiotou is stared down by his father-in-law, Derrick Inggs, in the witness box, during day 17 of the sensational murder trial Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
NO EYE CONTACT: Murder accused Christopher Panayiotou is stared down by his father-in-law, Derrick Inggs, in the witness box, during day 17 of the sensational murder trial
Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

“He was my son,” Jayde Panayiotou’s grief-stricken father told the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday in an emotional encounter with his son-in-law.

Referring to murder accused Christopher Panayiotou, 30, as “accused number one”, Derrick Inggs said he and his son-in-law had been friends.

“I thought he was a very good man,” Inggs, 57, said, staring at the businessman in the dock.

In turn, a seemingly uncomfortable Panayiotou avoided eye contact with his father-in-law.

Inggs’s voice cracked every time he mentioned Jayde’s name.

The doting father said he had searched for his eldest daughter throughout the night of April 21 last year.

“We eventually went home to sleep at 5am the following day and accused number one slept in my daughter’s bed,” he said angrily.

Jayde’s body was found later that day. She had been shot three times.

Intense cross-examination from defence advocate Terry Price SC, who said Inggs was mistaken with his times relating to the search for Jayde, ended with Price saying: “Finally, Mr Inggs, my innermost sympathies for your loss.”

Inggs said that prior to Jayde’s murder he had loaned her R40 000 to pay off her car.

The court has heard previously how Panayiotou had contributed towards his mistress, Chanelle Coutts’s, new vehicle during their affair.

Inggs said he and his wife, Michelle, gave the couple R200 000, the majority of which was used to pay for the transfer fees of their newly purchased luxury Lovemore Heights home.

He said Jayde, 29, was not a spendthrift and would save if she wanted something expensive.

He was familiar with the inner workings of Panayiotou’s Infinity Cocktail Bar in Algoa Park and had assisted him with the steel structure that needed to be erected.

“I never charged him because he was my son,” he said.

Inggs said the night of Jayde’s disappearance Panayiotou left the search team to fetch middleman Luthando Siyoni from Infinity.

“He told me that the bouncer [Siyoni] could assist in the search because he knew the [township] area well.”

He said he did not see Siyoni at the ATMs where they had searched later that night, but could not say for sure whether or not he was there as he did not know what he looked like.

“I, in fact, do not want to know what he looks like. I avoid looking at photographs of him.”

Panayiotou family friend Pieter Bekker, who offered a reward for any information on Jayde’s disappearance, said Panayiotou might have been in shock, “but he did not seem emotional after Jayde’s body was found”.

Bekker said he was also annoyed at some stage because Panayiotou went back home while they continued the search for his wife.

Describing Bekker’s comment about Panayiotou’s emotional state as gratuitous, Price said: “When Chris saw Jayde’s body, he cried. His dad cried. Derrick cried. They hugged each other,” Price said.

The trial continues.

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