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from www.heraldsun.com.au – A man accused of murdering Melbourne stripper and prostitute Jazzy O once tried to strangle a woman by grabbing her around the neck, a committal hearing at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court was told today.
Prosecution witness Connie Galanakis told the preliminary hearing for accused man Steve Constantinou she’d heard that he had once tried to strangle his own stepmother.
Mr Constantinou, 48, is accused of murdering Johanna Martin [pictured], also known as Jazzy O, on October 11 last year and stealing $33,000 worth of jewellery from her.
The body of Ms Martin, 65, was found wrapped in a blanket in Lorimer St, Port Melbourne.
In June, the committal hearing was told that Ms Martin was more than likely strangled.
She was found with ligature marks around her neck and a thin synthetic rope tied around her ankles, the court has heard.
In evidence today, Ms Galanakis said Mr Constantinou’s stepmother had claimed he’d tried to strangle her once after the two had exchanged words.
That claim was made after Ms Martin’s body was found and news had circulated about possible strangulation, the court heard.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Theo Kassimatis, Ms Galanakis admitted that the stepmother was not a “fan” of Mr Constantinou due to a belief that he had fleeced money from his ill father.
Ms Galanakis, a bank customer service officer, said that while she had heard rumours about Mr Constantinou ripping off his father, she had never seen any proof.
Ms Martin was one of her bank clients.
“Ms Martin used to bring (her little dog) Suzie into the bank all the time,” Ms Galanakis said in a tendered statement.
Ms Martin had mentioned Mr Constantinou to Ms Galanakis.
In her statement, Ms Galanakis said Mr Constantinou had “a long history” with her family and that she and him had had a “falling out” over “petty matters”.
“My disrespect for Steve continued because of the way he treated his father over the years,” Ms Galanakis said in her statement.
“I’m not going to go into that in this statement, but everyone knows Steve has misused his father’s money for years and then just put him in a (nursing) home.”
According to the statement, Ms Martin once told Ms Galanakis that Mr Constantinou had borrowed money from her.
“Ms Martin went on to say Steve was such a good guy but he loves my money,” Ms Galanakis told police.
“Ms Martin said she and Steve were just friends.”
Ms Galanakis told police that Ms Martin told her Steve had “promised to pay her back”.
“I didn’t ask how much she had loaned to Steve but I thought to myself, ‘She is dreaming because Steve will never give her that money back’,” Ms Galanakis told police.
After Ms Martin’s body was found, Ms Galanakis’s twin brother Nicholas, who also knew Mr Constantinou, was questioned by police.
“Nick was upset that Steve had involved him,” Ms Galanakis told police.
She sent Mr Constantinou a Facebook message: “Who the f— do you think you are implicating my brother, you f—ing low life! Stay the f— out of our lives. You are nothing but trash. I know full well you borrowed money off her and never paid her back because she told me.”
Mr Constantinou replied: “Implicating your brother… Don’t think so Connie. Evereybody is getting questioned over this and I have nothing to hide. And as for the borrow of money, you have no idea about it at all, so don’t pretend you do…”
Nicholas Galanakis told police that Mr Constantinou was a person who “likes to big note himself”, but was not a scary or intimidating person.
Mr Galanakis said Mr Constantinou used to drive past his work site with Ms Martin in a silver convertible Mercedes, and that Ms Martin once unsuccessfully asked him for $12,000 to help Mr Constantinou avoid jail on outstanding fines.
“She said she had already given Steve plenty of money,” Mr Galanakis said in his tendered statement.
Mr Galanakis said it was “common knowledge” that Mr Constantinou was a gambler in the Port Melbourne area.
Mr Galanakis also told police that Mr Constantinou had admitted to sleeping with Ms Martin.
“He giggled,” Mr Galanakis told police.
“I remember saying to him once, ‘Why don’t you just marry her and live comfortably if she has so much money?’ Like a toyboy scenario. Steve said, ‘No, I won’t do that,’ but then he would continue to boast about how much money she had and that she owned three apartments.”
The hearing, before magistrate Hugh Radford, continues.