October 24, 2020

Wife of top podiatrist, charged with stabbing her millionaire husband in their luxury Bahamas home


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Unknown-1.1_t670Donna Vasyli denied bail again as judge explains his reasons

By Lamech Johnson From Tribune 242

Donna Vasyli’s initial assurance to relatives that she would “be out soon” proved wishful on Friday as a judge, who was ordered by the Court of Appeal to reconsider his initial refusal of bail a month ago, denied bail a second time to the woman accused of her husband’s murder.

The 54-year-old widow of Australian millionaire podiatrist Phillip Vasyli appeared downcast when brought before Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs for his decision on whether he would approve her renewed application for bail and if so, what conditions he would impose to ensure her return for trial into the fatal stabbing of her husband at their Old Fort Bay home almost six weeks ago.

Her demeanour did not change throughout the 12 minutes it took Senior Justice Isaacs to read his seven-page judgement into the record for the likely appeal from either defence or Crown that was to follow.

The law,” the judge said, “requires the applicant to demonstrate why bail should be granted. Bearing in mind that the applicant is not a citizen, and I accept that she is a permanent resident of some 20 years vintage, and has stated that she has a home in Australia and has access to finances, I am not minded to exercise my undoubted discretion to grant bail for the following reasons.

“The applicant is charged with a serious offence that carries a severe penalty. The applicant will be tried within a reasonable time within the context of prevailing circumstances in the Bahamas. The prosecution has sufficient probable grounds for the charge. There is no good reason to conclude that the circumstances of her husband’s death point in any other direction at this stage of the process but to her. The seriousness of the offence and the severity of the penalty are incentives for the applicant to abscond and fail to appear for her trial.”

On March 24, Mr Vasyli, 59, was found lifeless in the dining room of his luxury home with multiple stab wounds. He was the owner of four podiatry clinics – three in Sydney, Australia, and one at the Old Fort Bay Medical Centre in New Providence.

Prior to the start of her arraignment before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt six days later, the 54-year-old accused turned to relatives and supporters, assuring them that “I’ll be out soon.”

Because the chief magistrate did not have the jurisdiction to consider a bond, the accused was remanded to the Department of Corrections. Her lawyers, though, were able to get a bail hearing in the Supreme Court within three days of her arraignment just before the Easter holiday.

Senior Justice Isaacs, on April 2, noted the unusual speed in which the bail application appeared in the Supreme Court. However, he said that there had been no unreasonable delay in the case nine days after the alleged murder and noted that Vasyli had not sufficiently satisfied the court that she should be granted bail.

Murio Ducille, who had argued that his client was a fit candidate for bail, was told that he could appeal the ruling to the appellate court.

The country’s second highest court, on April 20, remitted the matter to the judge after determining that he did not explicitly give his reasons for denying bail and had not considered conditions that might have alleviated concerns that she would abscond if released on a bond.

Prior to denying bail in Friday’s proceedings, Senior Justice Isaacs addressed a number of the points raised by Mr Ducille at the second hearing for bail on April 29.

Mr Ducille had argued that the applicant “is saying I did not kill my husband or had a fight with my husband”.

“The marks on the upper side of my hand were from laser treatments I received on March 17, 2015 by Dr Rochelle Knowles,” the lawyer added, referring to his client’s affidavit that was made in response to that of Sgt Barry Smith, which alleged her to be a flight risk.

It was put to her by police that she stabbed her husband but she denied doing so.

The lawyer also noted that the “scanty” evidence was another factor in his client’s favour and was surprised that the prosecutor, Neil Braithwaite, maintained his objection to bail notwithstanding the weakness of the case.

Senior Justice Isaacs addressed those points and said: “I appreciate that the evidence to be led in a criminal case cannot be tested on a bail hearing. I am compelled, nevertheless, to take into account that there did not appear to be an unauthorised entry to the home on the night of the incident. The inference that can be drawn, therefore, is that where two persons are in a home and one is killed, the other person is likely responsible for that death.

“Article 19(1)(b) of the Constitution guarantees that no person shall be deprived of personal liberty save upon reasonable suspicion of having committed a criminal offence. Although personal liberty is guaranteed by the Constitution, the law authorises the taking away of that personal liberty upon reasonable suspicion of a person having committed a crime.”

The judge also noted that the standards set out by Parliament in the Bail Act of 2011 were reasonable when taking that article of the constitution into consideration for bail applications.

Mr Ducille relayed to the court that his client does not deny having a home in Australia or a relative in Florida. However, she denies having any other properties in other jurisdictions.

The lawyer said if the court was still not convinced that she was not a flight risk, “the Australian government, if requested, will cancel the appellant’s passport and put her on a stop list.”

Mr Ducille said his client was willing, of her own volition, to be placed under electronic monitoring and 24-hour house arrest, among other conditions.

In response, the judge noted that “there is no direct communication by the Australian authorities with the court, and in any event, restrictions, even the stringent ones proposed by the applicant, do not prevent a determined person from absconding.

“The 2014 amendment purports to shift the burden to the applicant to satisfy the court that bail should be granted. The applicant has submitted that the burden never shifts from the prosecution as that would be unconstitutional. That submission certainly applies to trial but Parliament has placed the burden on the applicant for bail applications. This is not a constitutional hearing and I am reluctant, without full argument, to reach any conclusion.”

The lawyer referred to a number of authority cases to support the application, including the case of Cuban-Americans Daniel Ayo and Luis Mendez, who were released on $50,000 bail for the 2010 murder of Jamaican Clive Tomlinson in Bimini.

The Court of Appeal approved bail for Ayo and Mendez after the initial refusal had been challenged.

Mr Ducille argued that unlike the pair, who were involved in a crime within 48 hours of visiting the Bahamas and still got bail, Vasyli has “substantial ties to the jurisdiction”.

And while acknowledging that there were medical conditions that facilitated their pre-trial release, he noted that his client had hypertension and hypothyroidism and would be better served receiving treatment outside prison.

Senior Justice Isaacs said that the facts of that case where there was “the possibility of a strong defence, can be distinguished from the instant case”.

“The applicant professes her innocence but has put nothing before the court that detaches her from the crime, or that creates some justification for anything she may have done.”

Regarding her conditions, the judge noted that “there is no evidence of a medical nature sufficient for this court to grant bail in the circumstances.”

Senior Justice Isaacs went on to state that he was “not minded to exercise my undoubted discretion to grant bail” because of the seriousness of the offence, no unreasonable delay in the case, sufficient evidence of probable cause and the possible penalty of the crime creating an incentive for her to abscond.

Vasyli and her lawyers, Elliot Lockhart, QC, and Mr Ducille, will have to file another appeal to the Court of Appeal.

IMAGE: Donna Vasyli at an earlier court appearance

For more on this story go to: http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/may/02/donna-vasyli-denied-bail-again-judge-explains-his-/

Related story:

Phillip Vasyli, 59, was found stabbed multiple times at their Bahamas home

26F6B10900000578-3010064-Donna_Vasyli_pictured_far_right_has_two_children_with_Mr_Vasyli_-a-34_1427245254308 26F6F9DC00000578-3010064-image-a-31_1427244323922 26F59DB000000578-3010064-image-m-17_1427235294059 26F67DD200000578-3010064-image-a-20_1427235456210 26F598BD00000578-3010064-image-a-19_1427235402629 27277CF300000578-3018977-image-a-5_1427771652981By Sarah Dean and Louise Cheer and Lucy-mae Beers For Daily Mail Australia From Mail Online

Wife of top podiatrist, charged with stabbing her millionaire husband in their luxury Bahamas home, to stay behind bars after she is denied bail
The 54-year-old is charged with stabbing her husband to death last week
Phillip Vasyli, 59, was found stabbed multiple times at their Bahamas home
Ms Vasyli claims marks found on her hands were due to laser treatments
She is scheduled to reappear in the court on May 20
The wife of an Australian millionaire podiatrist, charged with his murder, has been refused bail for the second time amid fears she may flee the Caribbean.

Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs denied Donna Vasyli bail on Friday due to the seriousness of the offence and believed she had an incentive to run, The Bahamas Tribune reported.

Vasyli, 54, is charged with the stabbing of her world-renowned podiatrist husband Phillip Vasyli, 59, to death at their Caribbean home in the exclusive gated community of Old Fort Bay.

Vasyli denies she stabbed or fought with her husband and claims marks on her hands were due to laser treatments.

She told family and friends: ‘I’ll be out,’ and blew kisses to her supporters during a court appearance on Monday.

Vasyli, 59, also an Australian, was found lifeless in the dining room of their luxury home with multiple stab wounds.

26F692B200000578-3010064-image-a-24_1427236473670‘It is claimed that you, on Tuesday, February 24, at New Providence, by means of unlawful harm, did intentionally cause the death of Phillip Vasyli,’ Chief Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt said on Monday, The Bahamas’ Tribune newspaper reported.

Mr Vasyli was the owner of multiple podiatry clinics around the world and also founded an orthotic footwear company that sells Vionic with Orthaheel Technology products.

His wife has been in custody since the body of her husband was found with numerous stab wounds in the couple’s luxury home just west of Nassau, the Bahamas capital.

Local police said the married father-of-two had been dead for seven hours before a worker found him.

Detectives originally took Ms Vasyli into custody following the discovery, saying she was a person of interest in the investigation.

She is now said to have hired the legal services of high profile local lawyers Elliot Lockhart QC and Murrio Ducille.

Bahamian newspaper The Tribune’s website includes video footage showing a handcuffed Donna Vasyli apparently arriving at court flanked by security personnel.

Mr Vasyli established three podiatry clinics in Sydney and later founded an orthotic footwear company that sells products in the US, the UK and elsewhere.

He set up his first practice in western Sydney and had lived in the Bahamas with his wife and two children for at least 15 years.

In his 30-year career, Mr Vasyli has treated more than 50,000 people and established three Sydney practices, according to his website. He has since sold the businesses.

The range includes over-the-counter orthotic footbeds, slippers, sandals and walking shoes.

A friend left a heartfelt tribute to Mr Vasyli on his Facebook page.

RIP Phil, It’s comforting to know you are finding peace with the Angels [sic]. You will be missed,’ she said.

Another woman wrote: ‘Devastated to hear of Phil’s passing. I’m an old school friend. Praying for comfort for his family. RIP Phil.’

Donna Vasyli is the mother of Mr Vasyli’s two children, Aron and Lauren.

The podiatrist’s not-for-profit organisation provides health support to third world countries and Ms Vasyli is a ‘kind soul and bright spirit’, according to its website.

She was a dental technician in Sydney before she met her husband.

The mother-of-two works for the Vasyli Foundation, alongside her children.

Donna Vasyli has been refused bail for the second time amid fears she may flee the Caribbean
Phillip Vasyli was found with seven stab wounds in his body inside his gated community home in the Bahamas
Donna Vasyli (pictured far right) has two children with Mr Vasyli, including daughter Lauren (pictured far left)
Police removed the 59-year-old’s body from his house last Tuesday morning as his wife was questioned
The 59-year-old was found inside his Old Fort Bay home, which was inside an exclusive gated community
A friend of the podiatrist left a heartfelt tribute on his Facebook page following his death – PHILLIP VASYLL/TWITTER

For more on this story and video and images go to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3065211/Wife-podiatrist-charged-stabbing-millionaire-husband-luxury-Bahamas-home-stay-bars-denied-bail.html#ixzz3Z4s7w8Co

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