A Melbourne IT specialist is suing his ex for defamation after she shared a document with other women he was dating at the same time alleging he was a violent, mentally unstable sex and drug addict. Read on the Herald Sun
Selina Holder believed Constantine Arvanitis when he said he loved her.
So did Michelle Langford, Suzanne Stretton-Brown, and Sandra Penna.
The IT specialist’s serial proclamations of love were outlined in the County Court of Victoria, in a defamation trial he brought against his ex-girlfriend, Ms Holder.
Ms Holder called her former flame a mentally unstable sex and drug addict in a document that was circulated among Mr Arvanitis’s exes.
It then made its way to the relatives of his current fiancee.
Mr Arvanitis said he “has a reputation for integrity of the highest order” and Ms Holder’s claims were lies motivated by malice.
She is fighting the defamation claim by arguing everything she said was true.
Five women from Mr Arvanitis’s past have put their hands up to give evidence in the trial, all of whom say they were having sex with him in 2016 and that he lied or took advantage of them.
One of them is Sandra Penna, who matched with the Melbourne man on Tinder while she was living across the border in Adelaide.
They started up a flurry of X-rated messages and tender declarations.
Messages read out to the court show she begged him to be honest with her, and to tell her if he just liked “f**king (her) and getting off on (her) photos”.
But he swore it wasn’t about that.
“OK, you know what I wanted,” he wrote to her. “Someone I could talk to at the end of the day, not a f**k buddy.”
His evidence in court on Wednesday told a different story.
“You wanted her purely for sexual purposes?” lawyer Barrie Goldsmith asked.
“Yes,” Mr Arvanitis said. “I met her on Tinder.”
Meanwhile, as he was promising one woman she wasn’t just a “f**kbuddy” in the middle of 2016, another lover, Suzanne Stretton-Brown, was learning of his busy dating calendar.
Ms Stretton-Brown had been on holiday with Mr Arvanitis to New Zealand.
She says he promised her “undying love”.
“I love you and always will,” one message he sent her, read out in court, said.
When she found out about the other women, she told him she was overcome with sadness, disbelief and rage.
“I have never experienced anything like this in my life and I hope I never will again,” she messaged him.
“To explain how it feels to know you have lied to me for eight months is one thing, but to learn you have had … unprotected sex is sickening to me.”
Mr Arvanitis was asked about Ms Stretton-Brown’s devastated message in court on Wednesday.
“She lived in Sydney, I lived in Melbourne — it was crazy to think that anything could have ever happened,” he said
“I didn’t disclose that I was dating other women. I met her on Tinder.”
He also said it was a “lie” that they were together for eight months, clarifying he believes it was four or five.
It was the same story for Michelle Langford.
Mr Arvanitis was dating her the same time as Ms Penna and Ms Stretton-Brown.
She alleges she spent $15,000 on furniture for Mr Arvanitis’s apartment on the assumption they would live together.
The court heard he wrote her love letters and messages and called her “my beautiful Mich”.
Later, she would write to his sister that he had “lied and manipulated her”.
Mr Arvanitis again had his own messages read out to him while he sat in the witness box on Tuesday.
“I just wanted to put into words how grateful I am,” he messaged her.
“I love you deeply.”
Under cross-examination last week, he said he realised he and Ms Langford had “a different version of love”.
“I met them on Tinder as a hook-up,” he said.
“I’ve been nothing but kind and loving towards them. Yes, I was kind, yes, we were kind to each other. Yes, we were caring. I expressed that.
“I have various forms of love. There’s various degrees of love, is how I understand it.
“I use the word (love) freely – probably a bit too freely. If I get intimate with them — like, have sex with them — then I tend to use the word.”
“I put it to you that that is a very unethical thing to do,” Mr Goldsmith said.
“No, it’s just how I use the word,” he responded.
Along with Ms Holder, Ms Langford, Ms Stretton-Brown and Ms Penna, the fifth person expected to be give evidence about Mr Arvanitis is an unnamed woman who says she met him through Narcotics Anonymous in 2016.
The court has heard Mr Arvanitis is a former addict who was accused by his ex-wife of “snorting” $220,000 worth of cocaine and spent three months in rehab in 2013.
He continued to participate in Narcotics Anonymous beyond his recovery, where the unnamed woman said they came into contact.
He says they never had sex and that she became attached to him during a “psychotic episode” and “went off the rails” when he declined to become involved with her.
The court was told she says he “took the opportunity” to have sex with her in back alleys and on a building site and while she was “vulnerable and under the influence” during a relapse.
Mr Arvanitis has told the court the allegations made by Ms Holder against him — that he is suing her over — caused him to be viewed with hatred, contempt and ridicule.
He said when his sister’s fiancee saw the document his ex had written, she cut him out of her life.
He also endured an uncomfortable grilling from his fiancee’s conservative father about whether he was “the kind of person who breaks people’s feet”.
“Family is everything to me, so it made me feel discarded,” he told the court.
“I was devastated. I couldn’t believe what had happened.”
The 48-year-old told the court Ms Holder broke her own foot by slamming the door on it during an argument in February 2014 and that he wasn’t even in the bedroom, where it happened, at the time.
His lawyer Paul Hayes QC said he may have been promiscuous in the period after the breakdown of his relationship with Ms Holder — but that doesn’t make him a sex addict.
“There is no, and there has not been, a request for Mr Arvanitis to be examined by a medical professional in this case,” he said on the first day of the trial on May 17.
“It’s impossible for that charge to prevail. It is a medical diagnosis.”
He said the contents of the document were “incredibly hurtful” and had caused family members to become estranged.
“The imputations were made, and were aggravated by, malice on the part of Ms Holder,” he said.
“She was actuated by malice and intended to inflict the maximum harm possible.”
Mr Arvanitis’s exes, along with his current fiancee, Melanie Thornton, who he also met in 2016, are expected to give evidence when the judge-alone defamation trial resumes at a date to be fixed.