Top detective says Panayiotou's defence team played dirty

27 November 2017 - 08:13 By kATHRYN KIMBERLEY
Christopher Panayiotou appears in the Port Elizabeth Magistrates' Court. File photo
Christopher Panayiotou appears in the Port Elizabeth Magistrates' Court. File photo
Image: Gallo Images / The Herald / Eugene Coetzee

A police boss with four decades in the SAPS has described the mammoth Panayiotou murder trial in Port Elizabeth as the dirtiest case he has ever been involved in.

Brigadier Gary McLaren, outgoing head of detectives in the Eastern Cape, said he had never before experienced such a personal attack from a legal defence team on his officers.

"When allegations of dishonesty surface, that is one thing, but there is nothing worse than when a lawyer accuses a policeman of being a lowlife," McLaren, 59, said after Judge Dayalin Chetty sentenced Christopher Panayiotou to life behind bars in the Port Elizabeth High Court last week for the murder of his wife, Jayde.

He said the attack on the officers was humiliating to watch.

"It does not matter what happened in their personal relationship, the things that were brought up while Warrant Officer Leon Eksteen was on the stand were completely irrelevant to the case."

McLaren said when he thought things could not get any worse, two deputy directors of public prosecutions testified for the defence.

"I was very shocked when advocates [Selvan Gounden and Indra Goberdan] took the stand.

"I will be writing a letter to the director of public prosecutions about it.

"To a large degree I feel there has been a breakdown in trust between the police and the prosecuting authority," the detective said.

McLaren handpicked a team to investigate Jayde's kidnapping and murder in April 2015.

He said what had made it all worthwhile in the end was when Judge Chetty commended the police for a job well done.

He also said the criticism levelled against the state was unfounded.