Sexting photo shown in court as ‘cheater’ gives evidence in defamation battle

Constantine Arvanitis took his seat in the witness box on Tuesday morning and prepared himself for the uncomfortable questions that were about to follow on sex, drugs and cheating.

Mr Arvanitis was the first person to give evidence in his County Court defamation trial against former girlfriend Selina Holder, who is alleged to have destroyed his reputation by sending explosive documents to his new love interest calling him a sex addict, violent and a cheat.

Constantine Arvanitis leaving court late on Tuesday. Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

Before he could finish, both parties had agreed to try to settle the matter to prevent more of it from being made public.

His lawyer, Paul Hayes, QC, had a lot of material he wanted to get through to demonstrate his client’s good character and prove Ms Holder had waged a campaign against him after their relationship had broken down.

At one point, Mr Arvanitis visibly blanched as he was asked to identify one document: a photo of his former partner’s vagina. Mr Arvanitis told the court he had found the image on Ms Holder’s phone while she was sleeping at the Ibis hotel in Sydney on Valentine’s Day in 2013. The pair began dating in 2012 and had a child in 2014.

Mr Arvanitis was also in the throes of a self-confessed daily cocaine addiction.

“She had fallen asleep, her phone lit up and I looked at it. I saw a message from someone the day before,” he told the court.

“She had sent him a photo of her vagina and they were conversing sexually. I freaked out.”

Judge Julie Clayton had ordered that evidence in the case not be shown on the large TV screens in courtroom 1.5 to prevent the public viewing of private material.

However, with the lawyers sitting at the bar table scrolling the evidence on their laptop screens, many in the courtroom saw the image regardless.

Selina Holder leaving court on Monday.Credit:Wayne Taylor

“That is the photo,” Mr Arvanitis told the court.

He regularly wiped away tears as he painted a picture of a relationship that was often violent and abusive. Mr Arvanitis said when confronted about the alleged sexting, Ms Holder attacked him with a stiletto shoe. “She’s a tall girl, she was coming at me with a high heel,” he said.

When asked for Ms Holder’s height Mr Arvanitis said she was six feet (1.84 metres) tall.

“I know what a high heel can do to someone’s skull,” he said.

Constantine Arvanitis has admitted previously having a cocaine addiction.Credit: Supplied

Mr Arvanitis told the court the incident led him to go to the Hader drug and rehabilitation centre in Geelong, where he spent 90 days to get off cocaine.

He said he had been clean since March 2013.

“I’m not counting the days any more, I’ve moved out of that space,” he said.

In his evidence, Mr Arvanitis also spoke about financially supporting Ms Holder while they were together, including regular credit cards repayments and clearing a $17,000 debt.

Selina Holder outside court this week.Credit:Justin McManus

They also regularly fought, he said. On one occasion Ms Holder’s foot was broken when a door was closed on it. When Mr Arvanitis asked Ms Holder again about her cheating on him, she punched him and left him with a black eye, he said.

Ms Holder took out an intervention order against him, he said, but she later withdrew it for the sake of their child. The relationship broke down in the middle of 2015. Voicemails from that time, left by Ms Holder threatening Mr Arvanitis, were played in court.

“I couldn’t sleep because I was scared. It got to the point where I said, ‘I’ve had enough, get out,’ ” he said.

Mr Arvanitis, who the court was told earns about $170,000 as an IT consultant for NAB, said he regularly paid child support but had not seen his daughter since the end of 2016.

Constantine Arvanitis leaves the County Court on Monday with his partner Melanie Thornton.Credit:Wayne Taylor

One of the documents Mr Arvanitis is suing over is a letter allegedly sent by Ms Holder and two of his other ex-girlfriends, who it’s claimed teamed up as a “sisterhood” to say he was violent, a sex addict and a cheat.

The letter was allegedly left at the home of Melanie Thornton, the current fiancee of Mr Arvanitis. A separate allegedly defamatory legal document was also sent to Ms Thornton’s sister, breast cancer surgeon Dr Chantel Thornton.

When asked if he was addicted to sex, Mr Arvanitis said he had never been diagnosed with that condition or sought treatment for it.

He said he had attended one “sex and love addicts meeting” after the end of his relationship with Ms Holder.

“I realised it wasn’t for me, so I left. It was a messy break-up. I was missing my daughter,” he said.

Mr Arvanitis admitted he was a member of several dating and pornography websites, including the well-known online adultery service Ashley Madison.

“I came out of the relationship feeling like my self-esteem was very low,” he said, adding he believed Ms Holder’s alleged insults about him having a big nose and short legs.

“I wanted to feel better about myself, I wanted to meet people. I was lonely.”

After lunch, Mr Arvanitis returned to the courtroom to continue giving evidence. However,the court heard that both parties would attempt mediation on Tuesday afternoon.

The court will hear the result of the settlement negotiations on Wednesday.

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