The discovery of a diary containing an alleged murder confession could see the case of a woman facing her fifth trial for the same murder thrown out.
The discovery of a diary containing an alleged murder confession could see the case of a woman facing her fifth trial for the same murder thrown out.

Bombshell diary find in murder case

A woman facing her fifth trial for the same murder will seek to have the case thrown out, after the bombshell discovery of a diary that allegedly contains evidence of a confession made by somebody else.

Katia Pyliotis, 38, was bailed at the Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday, where her defence counsel indicated he would apply for a permanent stay of proceedings due to the discovery of the diary.

Ms Pyliotis is facing charges for the murder of Elia Abdelmessih, who was found bludgeoned in his apartment in 2005 beside a bloodstained statue of the Virgin Mary and other bloodied items.

Ms Pyliotis was arrested in 2016 and, after three mistrials, was convicted in 2019.

Katia Pyliotis (centre left) arrives at the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne, last year. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross
Katia Pyliotis (centre left) arrives at the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne, last year. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross

But Victoria's Court of Appeal overturned the conviction on May 27 this year and ordered the case be heard by a jury for the fifth time.

Since then, the diary of a police officer central to the case was found in a storage facility, which contains evidence allegedly highly relevant to proceedings.

Ms Pyliotis' lawyer Dermot Dann, QC, said on Wednesday the discovery of the diary was a "stunning, if not shocking, development".

He alleged it contained evidence of a third murder confession made by Susan Reddie, a woman with an acquired brain injury who sometimes had sex with the murdered man in exchange for money.

The court heard Ms Reddie, who died in 2012 and was aged 47 at the time of the murder, had made two previous confessions.

But during Ms Pyliotis' previous trials, the prosecution alleged Ms Reddie had recanted the confessions to Victoria Police Detective Senior Constable Warren Ryan.

Mr Dann said during the trials Mr Ryan said he had made notes of Ms Reddie recanting the confessions in his police diary - but the diary could not be found.

This month the diary turned up in a storage facility.

Mr Dann alleges it does not contain any details of Ms Reddie recanting her confession to Mr Ryan.

However, he alleges it does contain evidence of a third time she confessed to the murder, to Mr Ryan.

"Not only is there no note of any recantation, but there are notes of a third confession," Mr Dann said.

"There are details of that confession that are very significant … including a description of what the crown allege is one of the murder weapons.

"That's the kind of detail that only the killer would know."

Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said the defence was claiming "perjured evidence and an attempt to pervert the course of justice" regarding Mr Ryan's claim his diary contained evidence of recanted confessions.

Prosecutor Angela Ellis said the case against Ms Pyliotis relied on other evidence to Ms Reddie's allegedly recanted confession.

She said there was no DNA evidence Ms Reddie was at the scene, and there was evidence she was somewhere else at the time of the murder.

However, Ms Pyliotis' DNA was found at the scene of the murder.

The prosecutor said Ms Reddie had also told a disability support worker, "No way I could have killed that man; anyway I can't remember."

However, Justice Hollingworth said, "I am prepared to say that the prosecution case has undoubtedly been weakened by recent developments." 

In her reasons for granting bail, Justice Hollingworth said Ms Pyliotis had already spent four years in prison due to the "irregular and protracted procedural history of this matter".

She said Ms Pyliotis did not appear to be an obvious risk of flight or reoffending, that she was close to her family, and that her mother had put up $100,000 against the family home as surety.

The application for a permanent stay of proceedings will be heard on October 12.

Originally published as Bombshell diary find in murder case



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