Shock decision sees wife's murder conviction overturned
EVER since she was jailed for the murder of her millionaire Australian husband in their luxury Caribbean home, Donna Vasyli has protested her innocence.
Charismatic podiatrist Phillip Vasyli was at the top of his game when he was found stabbed to death in the couple's multi-million-dollar mansion in the Bahamas in 2015.
Donna was sentenced to 20 years for his murder but in a shock development last week a judge overturned her conviction and ordered a retrial.
The couple married after falling in love as teenagers in the working class western Sydney suburb of Liverpool and had two children, Aron and Lauren.
Over the next 30 years, Phillip would establish a string of successful clinics. He founded an orthodontic footwear company selling shoes to the US and the UK featuring "Orthaheel Technology" his own invention, which made the couple rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Fifteen years ago, the Vasylis moved their family to an exclusive gated community at Old Fort Bay in the Bahamas.
They lived an extravagant life of private planes and clean white beaches, scenes which Phillip Vasyli loved to photograph and share on social media.
Then one night their seemingly idyllic existence was shattered by violence.
A worker found Phillip lying in a pool of blood in the dining room of the couple's mansion on the morning of March 24 and called police.
The 59-year-old had suffered multiple stab wounds and authorities determined he'd been dead for at least seven hours.
Donna was found at the scene, crying and shaking in a bedroom.
"We had a fight last night," she told an officer before she was taken into custody. Police found a kitchen knife at the scene which they believed to be the murder weapon.
The brutal death of the handsome and popular specialist made world headlines and Donna, as the prime suspect, found herself at the centre of an unfolding scandal.
She would later strenuously deny murdering her husband during a videotaped interview with police.
When investigators grilled her about suspicious red marks on her hands, she claimed they were from laser treatments she had recently undergone. Police didn't believe her and she was charged with Phillip's murder.
At trial, her high-profile lawyers described Phillip as the love of Donna's life.
However, they said, he had a dark side which included a rapacious appetite for drugs and alcohol and would abuse her when he'd had too much.
One of the couple's housemaids testified that on the day of his murder, Phillip had been drinking and had fallen down the stairs.
The jury was shown a video of one of Donna's police interrogations in which she strenuously denied the suggestion that she stabbed her husband for embarrassing her in front of houseguests while he was drunk.
During that interview, she told police her husband had been drinking and fell down the stairs - shattering glass inside picture frames in the way - several hours before his dead body was found.
She told detectives Phillip was walking around the house looking "disgusting" with his pants hanging down even though she told him guests were coming but did not argue with her husband.
Workers at their home denied seeing any violence from Phillip. They admitted he drank, but they hadn't seen any evidence that he'd harmed Donna over the years or been abusive.
In October 2015, a jury unanimously found Donna guilty of murder, causing the widow to collapse in shock.
Her supporters, who had packed the courtroom for the verdict cried out in disbelief, with some yelling: "She's innocent".
Donna Vasyli appealed on July 26 the Court of Appeal in the Bahamas delivered a bombshell, throwing out Donna's murder conviction and ordering a retrial.
Local media are reporting that Donna's new defence team will focus on other possible suspects ignored by police.
They are expected to argue that security at the house was slack and that a number of unidentified people were captured on CCTV wandering around the property - which was undergoing extensive renovations at the time.