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Vincent TABAK





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: To gain sexual gratification
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 17, 2010
Date of arrest: January 20, 2011
Date of birth: February 10, 1978
Victim profile: Joanna Clare "Jo" Yeates, 25
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Clifton, Bristol, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years on October 28, 2011

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Murder of Joanna Yeates

Joanna Clare "Jo" Yeates (19 April 1985 – 17 December 2010) was a 25-year-old landscape architect from Hampshire, England, who went missing on 17 December 2010 in Bristol after an evening out with colleagues. Following a highly publicised appeal for information on her whereabouts and intensive police enquiries, her body was discovered on 25 December 2010 in Failand, North Somerset. A post-mortem examination determined that she had been strangled.

The murder inquiry, named Operation Braid, was one of the largest ever police investigations in the Bristol area. The case dominated news coverage in the United Kingdom around the Christmas period as Yeates' family sought assistance from the public through social networking services and press conferences. Rewards amounting to £60,000 were offered for information leading to those responsible for Yeates' death. The police initially suspected and arrested Christopher Jefferies, Yeates' landlord, who lived in a flat in the same building.

Vincent Tabak, a 32-year-old Dutch engineer and neighbour of Yeates, was arrested on 20 January 2011. Media attention at the time centred on the filming of a re-enactment of her disappearance for the BBC's programme, Crimewatch. After two days of questioning, he was charged on 22 January 2011 with Yeates' murder. On 5 May 2011, Tabak pleaded guilty to Yeates' manslaughter, but denied murdering her. His trial started on 4 October 2011; he was found guilty of murder on 28 October 2011, and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation he serve at least 20 years.

The nature of press reporting on aspects of the case led to the instigation of legal proceedings against a number of UK newspapers. Libel action was brought by Jefferies against eight publications over their coverage of his arrest, resulting in the payment to him of substantial damages. The Daily Mirror and The Sun were found guilty of contempt of court for reporting information that could prejudice a trial. A memorial service was held for Yeates at the parish church in the Bristol suburb where she lived; her funeral took place near the family home in Hampshire. Several memorials were planned, including one in a garden she had been designing for a new hospital in Bristol.

Background and disappearance

Joanna Clare Yeates was born on 19 April 1985 to David and Teresa Yeates in Hampshire, England. She was privately educated at Embley Park near Romsey. Yeates studied for her A-levels at Peter Symonds College and graduated with a degree in landscape architecture from Writtle College. She received her Master's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Gloucestershire.

In December 2008, Yeates met then-25-year-old fellow landscape architect Greg Reardon at the firm Hyland Edgar Driver in Winchester. The couple moved in together in 2009 and settled in Clifton, Bristol, when the company relocated to that area. Yeates later changed jobs to work at the Building Design Partnership in Bristol.

At approximately 8:00 pm on 19 December 2010, Reardon returned home from a weekend visit to Sheffield to find Yeates absent from their flat on Canynge Road, Clifton. Reardon had been trying to contact her by phone and text, but did not find it "completely out of character" that she did not respond. While awaiting Yeates' return, Reardon found that her purse and keys were at the flat, and that their cat appeared to have been neglected. After he called her again, her mobile phone rang from a pocket of her coat at the flat. Around midnight, Reardon contacted the police and then Yeates' parents to report her missing.

Investigators subsequently pieced together the sequence of events leading up to her disappearance. They determined Yeates had spent the evening of 17 December 2010 with colleagues at the Bristol Ram pub on Park Street, leaving at around 8:00 pm to begin the 20-minute walk home. She told friends and colleagues that she was looking forward to spending the weekend alone; she planned to spend her time baking and shopping for Christmas. Yeates was seen on closed-circuit television (CCTV) at around 8:10 pm leaving a Waitrose supermarket without purchasing anything. She phoned her best friend, Rebecca Scott, at 8:30 pm to arrange a meeting on Christmas Eve. The last known footage of Yeates recorded her buying a pizza from a branch of Tesco Express at around 8:40 pm. She had also bought two small bottles of cider at a nearby off-license, Bargain Booze.

Search, public appeal, and discovery of body

Reardon and Yeates' friends set up a website and used social networking services to help look for her. On 21 December 2010, Yeates' parents and Reardon made a public appeal for her safe return at a police press conference.

In another press conference, broadcast live on 23 December 2010 by Sky News and BBC News, Yeates' father David commented on her disappearance: "I think she was abducted after getting home to her flat ... I have no idea of the circumstances of the abduction because of what was left behind ... I feel sure she would not have gone out by herself leaving all these things behind and she was taken away somewhere".

Her keys, phone, purse and coat were left behind at her flat. Detectives retrieved a receipt for a pizza, but found no sign of it or of its packaging. Both bottles of cider were found in the flat, one of them partially consumed. As there was no evidence of forced entry or a struggle, investigators began to examine the possibility that Yeates may have known her abductor.

On 25 December 2010, a fully clothed body was found in the snow by a couple walking their dogs along Longwood Lane near a golf course and next to the entrance of a quarry in Failand, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) from her home.

The body was identified by police as that of Yeates. Reardon and the Yeates family visited the site of the discovery on 27 December 2010. David Yeates said that the family "had been told to prepare for the worst" and expressed relief that his daughter's body had been recovered. Funeral arrangements were delayed as investigators wished to retain the body for a while. The pathologist Dr Nat Carey consented to the release of the body on 31 January 2011.


The investigation, called "Operation Braid", comprised 80 detectives and civilian staff under the direction of Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones, a senior officer with Avon and Somerset Constabulary's major crime investigation unit. It became one of the largest police operations in the Constabulary's history. Jones urged the public to come forward with any information to help catch the killer, especially potential witnesses who were in the vicinity of Longwood Lane in Failand in the period before Yeates' body was discovered there. He stated that the investigation was seeking the driver of a "light-coloured 4x4 vehicle" for questioning.

Jones said that officers had been "inundated with thousands of calls" and were "exhausting every lead and avenue that [they were] provided with." Police examined over 100 hours of surveillance footage along with 293 tonnes (293,000 kg) of rubbish seized from the area around Yeates' flat. Refuse collection had been suspended in that part of Clifton since 23 December 2010.

Crime Stoppers offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her murderer, while The Sun newspaper offered £50,000. Authorities advised people living in the area to secure their homes, and warned women not to walk alone after dark. Speaking on 29 December about the murder investigation Yeates' father said, "I fear that whoever has done this will never hand themselves in, but we live in hope that the police will catch who is responsible."

Post-mortem and initial enquiries

Following the discovery of Yeates' body detectives from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary issued an appeal for anyone with information about the death to come forward, and investigated similarities with other unsolved cases. Of particular interest to them were those of 20-year-old Glenis Carruthers who was strangled in 1974, Melanie Hall, aged 25, who disappeared in 1996 and whose body was discovered thirteen years later, and 35-year-old Claudia Lawrence who went missing in 2009.

Investigators identified "striking similarities" between the Yeates and Hall cases, notably their age and appearance, and that they had disappeared after returning home from meeting friends, but the possibility of such connections was later downplayed by authorities.

The police gathered surveillance video from Clifton Suspension Bridge, which forms part of the most direct route from the crime scene to the Clifton suburb where Yeates was last seen alive. The footage was of poor quality, making it impossible to clearly distinguish individuals or car registration numbers. Investigators were aware that the perpetrator could have used an alternative bridge across the River Avon less than a mile to the south to avoid CCTV coverage.

A post-mortem examination began on 26 December 2010, though results were delayed due to the frozen condition of the body. Police initially thought it possible that Yeates froze to death because her body showed no visible signs of injury. Investigators announced on 28 December 2010 that the case had become a murder inquiry as the coroner determined that Yeates had died as a result of strangulation.

The post-mortem indicated that she had died "several days before being discovered" on 25 December 2010. The examination also confirmed that Yeates did not eat the pizza she had purchased. Detective Chief Inspector Jones stated that the investigation found "no evidence to suggest that Joanna was sexually assaulted". The police searched Reardon's laptop computer and mobile phone as part of standard procedure. Reardon was ruled out as a suspect and treated as a witness.

A young woman attending a party at a neighbouring house on Canynge Road on the night of Yeates' disappearance recalled hearing two loud screams shortly after 9:00 pm coming from the direction of Yeates' flat. Another neighbour who lived behind Yeates' home said that he heard a high-pitched woman's voice scream "Help me". Officers removed the front door to Yeates' flat to check for clothing fibres and DNA evidence, with investigators examining the possibility that the perpetrator had entered the flat before Yeates returned home.

Further enquiries

Senior officers from the investigation asked for assistance from the National Policing Improvement Agency, which provides expertise for difficult cases. On 4 January 2011, a clinical forensic psychologist, who had previously been involved as a criminal profiler in other high profile murder cases, joined the investigation to help narrow down the number of potential suspects.

Jones stated that his officers were checking through 1,300 tips and pieces of information from the public and had established over 1,000 lines of inquiry, 239 of them considered "high priority". Jones said, "I can assure you, we are determined to solve this crime and bring Jo's killers to justice. No stone will be left unturned." On 5 January, Detective Chief Inspector Jones announced that one of Yeates' socks was missing when she was found dead and that it had not been found at the crime scene or in her home.

Police launched a national advertising campaign to appeal for witnesses through Facebook. The page, established on 4 January, had been viewed nearly 250,000 times by the following day, while CCTV footage of Yeates had been viewed 120,000 times on YouTube by 5 January.

On 9 January 2011, Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy gave her support to the idea of a public DNA screening process if the police found it useful. The Avon and Somerset Constabulary had conducted mass DNA screening during the 1995 investigation into the disappearance of then-18-year-old Louise Smith. McCarthy suggested that the screening process should be extended beyond Clifton to the wider Bristol area. Saliva that had been found on Yeates' body was tested for a potential DNA profile. Detectives liaised with officials from the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), which manages individuals convicted of violent and sexual offences, with a view to interviewing registered sex offenders living within their jurisdiction.

Arrests and reconstruction of crime

Shortly after 7.00am on 30 December 2010, Christopher Jefferies, Yeates' landlord who lived in the same building, was arrested on suspicion of her murder. He was taken to a local police station for questioning while forensic investigators inspected his flat. A senior police officer granted investigators a 12-hour extension to the arrest on 31 December, enabling them to hold him in custody for additional questioning.

Police subsequently applied to magistrates for a further extension, and were granted another 24 hours on 31 December. but released Jefferies on bail the following day. He retained the legal services of the law firm Stokoe Partnership to act on his behalf. On 4 March 2011, police released him from bail and stated he was no longer a suspect. He subsequently won an undisclosed sum in libel damages for defamatory news articles published following his arrest.

In January 2011, a dramatic reconstruction of the case was filmed on location in Bristol for broadcast in the 26 January edition of the BBC television programme Crimewatch. A firm that had been involved in the production of the Harry Potter films was contracted to reproduce the snowy conditions at the time of Yeates' disappearance. The reconstruction of Yeates' last movements was filmed on 18 January, and within 24 hours of news coverage about the production, over 300 people contacted the police. A breakthrough led investigators to believe that Yeates' body may have been transported in a large holdall or suitcase.

On the morning of 20 January, the Avon and Somerset Constabulary arrested 32-year-old Vincent Tabak, who lived with his girlfriend in the flat next door to Yeates. However, authorities declined to reveal additional details while the suspect was being interrogated due to concerns over controversial media coverage of Jefferies' arrest, which had breached the rules governing what can be reported when an individual is arrested. The Tabak arrest followed an anonymous tip from a female caller, hours after a televised appeal by Yeates' parents on Crimewatch.

Canynge Road was closed by police while scaffolding was constructed around Yeates' home; and officers sealed off the adjacent flat of Dutch engineer Tabak. Investigators also searched the nearby townhouse of a friend, where Tabak was believed to have been staying, about a mile away. Tabak had previously been ruled out as a suspect during an earlier stage of the investigation, and had returned to England from a holiday visit to his family in the Netherlands.

Following Tabak's arrest, the BBC cancelled its plans to air the Yeates re-enactment on Crimewatch. On 31 January, Yeates' family publicly released photos of her that previously had been scheduled to be broadcast on the programme.

DNA tests

DNA tests were carried out by LGC Forensics, a private company which undertakes forensic analysis for criminal investigations. Lindsey Lennen, a body fluids and DNA specialist member of the team that analysed DNA samples from Yeates' body said that although DNA swabs matched Tabak, they were not of sufficient quality to be evaluated.

The team deployed a method known as DNA SenCE, which enhances unusable DNA samples through purification and concentration: "We couldn't say whether the DNA was from saliva, or semen, or even touch. But we could say that the probability of it not being a match with Tabak was less than one in a billion."

Legal proceedings and perpetrator

Murder charge and plea

After questioning during 96 hours of detention, Tabak was charged on 22 January 2011 with the murder of Joanna Yeates. He made a brief appearance at Bristol Magistrates' Court on 24 January and was remanded in custody. Tabak, legally represented by Paul Cook, declined to request bail during a hearing the following day. Tabak was moved from Bristol Prison because of fears for his safety, and was placed under suicide watch at Long Lartin Prison near Evesham. Tabak's family and friends in the Netherlands started to fundraise for his court defence.

Tabak initially maintained he was not responsible for Joanna Yeates' death, claiming that DNA evidence linking him to the crime had been fabricated by corrupt officials. However, on 8 February, while on remand he told Peter Brotherton, a prison chaplain that he had killed her and intended to plead guilty.

On 5 May 2011, Vincent Tabak pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Yeates, but denied murdering her. His plea of guilty to manslaughter was rejected by the Crown Prosecution Service. On 20 September, Tabak appeared in person at a pre-trial hearing at Bristol Crown Court. Appearances at previous hearings had been made via videolink from prison.

Vincent Tabak

Vincent Tabak (born 10 February 1978) was a Dutch engineer who had lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 2007. The son of Gerald and Sonja Tabak, and the youngest of five siblings, he was raised in Uden, 21 miles (34 km) north of Eindhoven.

Tabak's childhood next-door neighbour, John Massoeurs, described him after the trial as an intelligent "introverted" loner. Tabak studied at Eindhoven University of Technology from 1996, graduating with an MSc in architecture, building and planning in 2003, then began a PhD in which his thesis was a study of how people use space in office buildings and public areas. The paper was published in 2008.

Leaving university in 2007, he moved to the United Kingdom after taking a job at the headquarters of Buro Happold, an engineering consultancy firm in Bath, and settled in a flat in the town. He worked as a "people flow analyst", a role which required him to examine how people move around public spaces such as schools, airports and sports stadiums.

While living in Bath he established a relationship with a woman he first met through The Guardian's online dating website Soulmates. She was later described by the newspaper as his first serious girlfriend; he paid tribute to her in the acknowledgements of his thesis: "I am very happy she entered my life." The couple moved to a flat in Canynge Road, Bristol, in June 2009. Though Joanna Yeates and her partner moved into the neighbouring flat in Canynge Road in the autumn of 2010, she and Tabak did not meet prior to 17 December.

In the months leading up to Yeates' death, Tabak had used his computer to research escort agencies during business trips in the United Kingdom and United States, and contacted several prostitutes by phone.

He also viewed violent internet pornography that depicted women being controlled by men, showing images of them being bound and gagged, held by the neck and choked. During the murder investigation, police found images of a woman who bore a striking resemblance to Yeates. In one scene she was shown pulling up a pink top to expose her bra and breasts. When Yeates was discovered, she was wearing a similarly arranged pink top.

At Tabak's trial, prosecuting barrister Nigel Lickley QC, argued that the evidence of Tabak's activities should be provided to the jury: "It might shed light on the need to hold a woman for long enough and the need to squeeze hard enough to take her life." Details of Tabak's viewing of pornography were not included in the prosecution's case since the judge believed it did not prove that Tabak had acted with premeditation. After the trial it was disclosed that images of child pornography had been found on Tabak's laptop.


The trial of Vincent Tabak started on 4 October 2011 at the Crown Court at Bristol before Mr Justice Field and a jury. His counsel in the trial was William Clegg QC and the prosecutor was Nigel Lickley QC. Tabak pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but denied murder.

The prosecution case was that Tabak had strangled Yeates at her flat within minutes of her arrival home on 17 December 2010, using "sufficient force" to kill her. The trial was told that Tabak – around 1 foot (0.30 m) taller than Yeates – had used his height and build to overpower her, pinning her to the floor by the wrists, and that she had suffered 43 separate injuries to her head, neck, torso and arms during the struggle.

Injuries included cuts and bruises, and a fractured nose. Lickley told the court that the struggle was lengthy, and her death would have been slow and painful. However, he did not offer an explanation for the reasoning behind Tabak's initial attack on Yeates.

Evidence was presented that Tabak had then tried to conceal the crime by disposing of her body. The court heard that DNA swabs taken from Yeates' body had provided a match with Tabak. Samples found behind the knees of her jeans indicated she may have been held by the legs as she was carried, while fibres suggested contact with Tabak's coat and car. Blood stains were found on a wall overlooking a quarry close to where Yeates was discovered.

The prosecution also said that Tabak attempted to implicate Chrisopher Jefferies for the murder during the police investigation, and that in the days following Yeates' death, he had made internet searches for topics that included the length of time a body takes to decompose and the dates of refuse collections in the Clifton area.

In his defence, Tabak claimed that the killing had not been sexually motivated, and told the court that he had killed Yeates while trying to silence her after she screamed when he tried to kiss her. He claimed that Yeates had made a "flirty comment" and invited him to drink with her. He said that after she screamed he held his hands over her mouth and around her neck to silence her. He denied suggestions of a struggle, claiming to have held Yeates by the neck with only minimal force, and "for about 20 seconds". He told the court that after dumping the body he was "in a state of panic".

The jury was sent out to deliberate on 26 October, and returned with a verdict two days later. On 28 October 2011, Tabak was found guilty of Joanna Yeates' murder by a 10 to 2 majority verdict. He was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 20 years. Passing sentence, Mr. Justice Field referred to a "sexual element" to the killing.

Media controversy

The manner in which certain aspects of the case were reported by the British media led to one television broadcaster being temporarily banned from attending press conferences, and the instigation of legal proceedings against several newspapers by both Yeates' former landlord, and the Attorney General.

Following a television news report on 4 January 2011 that criticised the handling of the investigation, ITN reporters were banned by the Avon and Somerset Constabulary from attending a press conference convened to give updates on the murder case.

The item, presented by journalist Geraint Vincent claimed police had made little progress with their investigation, and questioned whether they were following correct procedural methods. A former murder squad detective told the report that "certain routine inquiries" such as looking for fresh evidence at the crime scene were not being carried out. ITN accused the police of attempting "to censor what information we can broadcast" while the constabulary filed a complaint with the Office of Communications, calling the broadcast "unfair, naïve and irresponsible reporting".

The police subsequently lifted the sanctions against ITN, but said that they would "not hesitate to adopt similar tactics in the future." Legal action was also considered over a tweet revealing that Tabak had viewed internet pornography showing erotic asphyxiation and bondage. The contempt of court charges were dropped after the tweet was removed.

Writing in London's Evening Standard on 5 January 2011, the media commentator Roy Greenslade expressed concern over a number of negative articles that had appeared in newspapers concerning Yeates' landlord, Chris Jefferies, following his arrest, describing the coverage as "character assassination on a large scale". He cited several examples of headlines and stories that had been published, including a headline in The Sun describing Jefferies – a former teacher at Clifton College – as weird, posh, lewd and creepy; a story from the Daily Express quoting unnamed former pupils referring to him as "a sort of Nutty Professor" who made them feel "creeped out" by his "strange" behaviour; and an article from the Daily Telegraph, which reported Jefferies "has been described by pupils at Clifton College…as a fan of dark and violent avant-garde films". Jefferies launched legal action against six newspapers on 21 April – The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Star, the Daily Express, the Daily Mail and the Daily Record – seeking damages for libel.

On 29 July he accepted "substantial" damages for defamation from The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Record, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and The Scotsman in connection with their coverage of his arrest. In an interview following Tabak's conviction, Jefferies commented: "It has taken up a whole year virtually of my life, that period of time has meant that everything else that I would normally be doing has been in abeyance." He criticised the government's plans to change the law on legal aid, which he said would prevent people with limited means from taking action against newspapers.

Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General for England and Wales, stated on 31 December 2010 that he was considering action under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 to enforce the obligation of the media not to prejudice a possible future trial. Criminology professor David Wilson commented on the resonance of the murder case with the national news media: "The British public loves a whodunnit ... It's a particularly British thing. We were the first nation to use murder stories to sell newspapers and that culture is more ingrained here than elsewhere." Wilson called Yeates, a white female professional, an "ideal victim" for the media.

On 1 January, Yeates' boyfriend Greg Reardon commented on the media coverage surrounding the arrest of Christopher Jefferies: "Jo's life was cut short tragically but the finger-pointing and character assassination by social and news media of as yet innocent men has been shameful."

On 12 May 2011, the Administrative Court granted the Attorney General permission to move a motion for committal for contempt of court against The Sun and the Daily Mirror for the way they had reported the arrest of Jefferies.

On 29 July, the court (Lord Judge CJ, Thomas LJ & Owen J) ruled that both newspapers had been in contempt of court, and fined the Daily Mirror £50,000 and The Sun £18,000. The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Judge stated that "in our judgment, as a matter of principle, the vilification of a suspect under arrest is a potential impediment to the course of justice." The publishers of The Sun and the Daily Mirror subsequently appealed against their fines, but the Mirror case was rejected by the Supreme Court of England and Wales on 9 March 2012, while The Sun withdrew its appeal.


The Yeates case was mentioned during a Parliamentary debate on a private member's bill that would have imposed a six-month sentence on any journalist who names an uncharged suspect. The proposed legislation was introduced into the House of Commons in June 2010, by Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP for Broxtowe, a former journalist and criminal law barrister. In a debate on 4 February 2011 Soubry told the House: "What we saw in Bristol was, in effect, a feeding frenzy and vilification. Much of the coverage was not only completely irrelevant, but there was a homophobic tone to it which I found deeply offensive. The slurs on the man were out of order." However, she withdrew the proposal after encountering opposition from the Conservative-led coalition government.

Jefferies gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, established by Prime Minister David Cameron to investigate the ethics and behaviour of the British media following the News of the World phone hacking affair. Jefferies told the inquiry that reporters had "besieged" him after he was questioned by the police; he said: "It was clear that the tabloid press had decided that I was guilty of Miss Yeates' murder and seemed determined to persuade the public of my guilt. They embarked on a frenzied campaign to blacken my character by publishing a series of very serious allegations about me which were completely untrue." Appearing before the same inquiry on 16 January 2012, the Daily Mirror editor, Richard Wallace, described the newspaper's coverage of Jefferies' arrest as a "black mark" on his editing record.

Aftermath and memorials

Associate vicar Dan Clark led a memorial service for Yeates at Christ Church in Clifton on 2 January 2011. Prayers for her were also said at the church on 17 December 2011, the first anniversary of her death, while visitors left tributes and messages of condolence for her family. Greg Reardon started a charity website in Yeates' memory to raise funds on behalf of families of missing people. Yeates' friends and family planted a memorial garden at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey where she had worked as a student. Building Design Partnership and the local NHS trust announced plans to commemorate her with a memorial in a garden she had been designing for a new £430 million hospital in Southmead, Bristol.

Other plans for memorials included a garden of remembrance at the BDP firm's studio in Bristol, a published anthology of Yeates' work and an annual landscape design prize named after her for students of the University of Gloucestershire. BDP announced it would dedicate a charity cycle ride between its offices on its 50th anniversary, with proceeds to go to charities selected by her family. Yeates left behind an estate valued at £47,000, which included money set aside to purchase a home with Reardon. As she had not written a will, the sum was inherited by her parents.

Following the release of her body on 31 January 2011, Yeates' family arranged to hold her funeral at St Mark's of Ampfield, Hampshire, and have her interred in the churchyard. Yeates was buried on 11 February; approximately 300 people attended the service, which was led by vicar Peter Gilks.


Vincent Tabak kept a sick trophy from his murder of Jo Yeates, says man who led hunt

Detective believes killer kept one of her socks

November 1, 2011

Vincent Tabak kept a sick trophy from his murder of Joanna Yeates, said the detective who led the hunt today.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones revealed that the killer kept the defenceless landscape architect's sock, after removing it during the attack at her Bristol flat.

He claimed during his murder trial that it came off as he was hauling her battered body into his neighbouring flat, after he squeezed her throat until she went limp.

But Det Jones, who led the investigation that captured the Dutch engineer, believes Tabak may have stashed the garment as a memento.

The sock, along with a Tesco Finest pizza bought by Miss Yeates on her walk home the night she died, has never been found.

Det Jones also said that the cold-blooded murderer might have never been caught if he hadn't failed to throw her body over a 4ft high stone wall.

He said that the body would not have been found had Tabak dumped her in a quarry on the other side of the wall as he had planned.

Because he didn't manage to throw her over the fence, Tabak left the body at the side of the road, where it was was eventually found by dog walkers on Christmas Day, eight days after she was killed.

Forensic experts found Joanna's blood on the side and the top of the wall suggesting Tabak tried to push her over.

The other side of the 4ft high stone wall in Failand, north Somerset drops sharply into disused Durnford Quarry.

Police do not know why the 6ft 4in Dutchman could not lift the 5ft 4in Miss Yeates over the wall, but in court he claimed he did not have the strength to lift the 9st woman.

He said he panicked and set about piling leaves on and around her body in an attempt to cover her up.

This all happened just two hours after they had first met, back at Miss Yeates' ground-floor flat in Bristol.

DCI Jones, from Avon and Somerset Police, said yesterday: 'I felt it could have been significant in that it was a trophy.

'I think he took the sock, and the pizza she had bought on her way home, because he was linked to those items evidentially.

'No other trace of him was found in the flat.'

DCI Jones, who led the largest investigation in Avon and Somerset Police history, also branded Tabak as a 'cold' killer.


Vincent Tabak found guilty of Joanna Yeates murder

Vincent Tabak has been found guilty of murdering landscape architect Joanna Yeates for sexual thrills.

By Martin Evans -

October 28, 2011

The verdict comes despite prosecutors being blocked from telling jurors about Tabak's sex secrets.

He strangled Miss Yeates after becoming obsessed with violent sex and pornography, it can now be revealed.

The 33-year-old Dutch engineer was convicted following a three-week trial at Bristol Crown Court.

The jury of six men and six women returned their 10-2 majority verdict on their fourth day of deliberation. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years.

Tabak had pleaded guilty to manslaughter but had denied murdering the 25-year-old whose frozen snow covered body was discovered in a remote country lane by dog walkers on Christmas morning last year.

During the trial Tabak, who lived in the adjoining flat to Miss Yeates in Canynge Road, Clifton, claimed her death had been an accident.

He told the court Miss Yeates, whose boyfriend Greg Reardon was away for the weekend visiting relatives, had invited him in after spotting him passing her kitchen window on the evening of December 17 last year.

He told jurors she had made a “flirty” comment and he had misread the situation thinking she wanted him to kiss her.

Tabak claimed Miss Yeates had screamed when he had made a pass at her and he had put his hand around her neck in an attempt to calm her down and stop her screaming.

The 6ft 4in Dutchman said he had held her for less than 20 seconds using only moderate force, but after a short time she went limp and fell to the ground.

But the jury rejected his version of events after hearing that Miss Yeates had 43 separate injuries when she was killed including numerous abrasions and bruises.

It can now also be reported that when police seized Tabak's work and home computers they discovered a chilling collection of pornographic films, featuring women being choked.

Detectives fear he may have graduated from “observer to perpetrator” after watching the films and strangled Miss Yeates for his own sexual gratification.

He also stored images on his computer of a woman who bore a striking similarity to Miss Yeates exposing her breasts.

In the photograph the woman was also wearing a pink t-shirt similar to the one Miss Yeates was wearing on the night she was killed.

The information was kept from the jury during the trial, but can now be reported after the judge, Mr Justice Field, lifted an order banning publication.

It can also be revealed that far from being in a monogamous relationship as he claimed in court, Tabak sought out the company of prostitutes while on business trips to Newcastle and Los Angeles.

Tabak looked down at his feet but showed no sign of emotion as the verdict was delivered.

He immediately sat down and put his head in his hands.

Mr Justice Field began sentencing by telling the jury: "I think there was a sexual element to this killing."

The judge told Tabak he had committed "a dreadful, evil act on a vulnerable young woman".

Tabak intended to go "much further" after attempting to kiss her, the judge added, saying that Miss Yeates died "in pain and fear" and her disappearance left her family suffering "seven days of agonising uncertainty"

Tabak denied that there had been a struggle but the prosecution accused him of deliberately killing Miss Yeates in a sexually motivated attack.

Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting described Tabak as “calculating, dishonest and manipulative”.

One of the most shocking aspects of the case to emerge came when it was revealed that after killing Miss Yeates, Tabak had placed her body in the boot of his car before driving to a supermarket where he went shopping for beer and crisps.

While there he had even sent a text message to his girlfriend Tanja Morson, telling her he was bored.

Tabak had claimed he was in state of panic at the time and did not know what he was doing.

But the jury rejected that suggestion after being shown CCTV footage of him calmly strolling round the aisles.

He later drove to Longwood Lane in Failand around three miles from Clifton where he attempted to drop her body into a quarry.

But after failing to lift her, Tabak left Miss Yeates’s body on the grass verge covering her with leaves.

Heavy snow later that night concealed the body for another eight days until she was finally discovered on Christmas morning.

Joanna Yeates's boyfriend maintained his composure as the jury delivered a guilty verdict.

Greg Reardon, 28, had been perched on the edge of his seat in the front row of the public gallery looking at the jury of six men and six women.

Miss Yeates's parents, David and Teresa, have attended almost every day of the trial but decided not to come to court today.

Other members of the Yeates family were in court to hear the verdict but showed little emotion.

Mr Reardon, wearing a black suit with a grey shirt and tie, was supported by his brother as they listened to the foreman speak in a slow, clear voice when he answered the clerk's questions.

The jury had been deliberating its verdict for 13 hours and 36 minutes before returning to Court One at Bristol Crown Court.

There was complete silence as the foreman, wearing glasses and a grey jumper, replied: "Guilty."

Flanked by six dock officers, the bespectacled 33-year-old Dutchman stood behind the glass-fronted dock and looked down at his feet but showed no sign of emotion as the verdict was delivered.

He immediately sat down and put his head in his hands.


Vincent Tabak found guilty of Joanna Yeates murder: how it happened

Vincent Tabak was today found guilty of the murder of architect Joanna Yeates. We trace back the timeline of events.

By Martin Evans -

October 28, 2011

Friday 17 December 2010


After joining colleagues from the architectural firm BDP for a Christmas drink at the Bristol Ram Pub, Joanna Yeates sets off for the 20 minute walk to her flat in the Clifton area of the city.


After stopping off at Waitrose, Miss Yeates uses her mobile phone to ring her best friend Rebecca Scott to arrange to meet on Christmas Eve.


She then pops into a branch of Bargain Booze where she purchases two bottles of cider.


Miss Yeates stops off at Tesco Express where she buys a pizza.


Miss Yeates is captured on CCTV walking past The Hophouse public house in Clifton, close to her flat.


A local priest, Father Henwood, is the last person to see her alive as he is walking her dog close to her flat in Canynge Road.


Screams are heard coming from the direction of Miss Yeates’ flat by a couple attending a party nearby.


Vincent Tabak sends text message to his girlfriend, Tanja Morson, in which he says: “Miss you loads. It is boring here without you Vxx.”


Tabak leaves Canynge Road in his grey Renault Megane car.


Mr Reardon sends text to Miss Yeates telling her he has arrived safely in Sheffield and asking if she enjoyed her evening at the pub. He receives no reply.


Tabak visits a branch of Asda in Bedminster, Bristol where he purchases rock salt, beer and crisps.


Tabak sends a text message to Miss Morson in which he says: “How are you, I am at the Asda buying crisis (sic). Was bored cannot wait to pick you up.”

Saturday 18 December 2010


Tabak goes online back at his flat and checks a number of work related websites.


Tabak accesses the BBC News website and looks up information about the weather.


Miss Morson calls Tabak.


Tabak arrives home after collecting Miss Morson from her office party.


Tabak and Miss Morson go out for lunch.


Tabak and Miss Morson attend a friend’s birthday party at the Pitcher and Piano pub.

Sunday 19 December 2010


Miss Yeates’s boyfriend Greg Reardon returns from a weekend visiting his half-brother in Sheffield to discover she is missing.


Mr Reardon dials 999 and reports Miss Yeates missing.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Police organise a search of the nearby Avon gorge and Joanna’s parents, David and Teresa, appeal for her to come home.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Mr Reardon makes an emotional appeal for Miss Yeates’s safe return and speaks of his distress at her disappearance.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Vincent Tabak and his girlfriend Tanja Morson leave Bristol to spend Christmas with her family in Cambridge. Police reveal they are keen to establish what happened to the pizza Miss Yeates bought on her way home. The receipt was found in the flat but there was no sign of the pizza or its packaging.

Meanwhile Mr and Mrs Yeates make another tearful appeal for information about their daughter and say they believe she has been abducted.

Friday 24 December 2010 - Christmas Eve

Detectives release CCTV footage of Miss Yeates buying the pizza in Tesco.

Saturday 25 December 2010 – Christmas Day


A couple walking their dog in Longwood Lane, Failand discover a woman’s frozen body on the roadside verge. Mr and Mrs Yeates say they assume it is her daughter.

Sunday 26 December 2010 – Boxing Day

Police are unable to conduct a post-mortem examination due to the fact the remains are still frozen but are satisfied the body is that of Miss Yeates.

Monday 27 December 2010

Mr and Mrs Yeates and Mr Reardon make an emotional visit to the spot where their daughter’s body was discovered.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Tabak and Miss Morson travel from Cambridge to Holland in order to spend New Year with his family. Police announce that Miss Yeates died as a result of strangulation.

Thursday 30 December 2010


Joanna’s landlord, Chris Jefferies, is arrested by detectives from Avon and Somerset Police on suspicion of her murder.

Friday 31 December 2010

Detectives are granted more time to question Mr Jefferies, a former teacher at Clifton College. Two detectives from Avon and Somerset police fly to Amsterdam to interview Tabak after he claims to have seen Mr Jefferies move his car on the night Miss Yeates was killed.

Saturday 1 January 2011


Mr and Mrs Yeates release a statement saying they have confidence their daughter’s killer will be caught.


Chris Jefferies is released on police bail without charge.

Monday 3 January 2011

Tabak and Miss Morson return from their trip to Holland and temporarily move into a friend’s flat in nearby Aberdeen Road, while the forensics team continued to search 44 Canynge Road.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Police reveal that Miss Yeates was missing one grey ski sock when her body was found. They appeal for the public’s help in locating the sock.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Tabak and Miss Morson attend a dinner party with friends at which he jokes about he investigation and tells another guest the killer must be a “crazy detached person”.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

A reconstruction of Miss Yeates’s movements before she disappeared is filmed and for the BBC’s Crimewatch programme.

Thursday 20 January 2011


Miss Yeates’s next-door neighbour Vincent Tabak, a 32-year-old Dutch engineer, is arrested on suspicion of her murder.

Friday 21 January 2011

Police are granted more time to question Tabak.

Saturday 22 January 2011


Police charge Tabak with the murder of Miss Yeates.

Monday 24 January 2011


Tabak appears before Bristol Magistrates charged with murder. He is remanded in custody.

Friday 11 February 2011

Miss Yeates’s funeral takes place in her hometown of Ampfield, Hants.

Thursday 5 May 2011


In a hearing at the Old Bailey Tabak appears by video link and pleads guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder. A trial date is set for October 4 at Bristol Crown Court.

Monday 10 October 2011

Prosecution open their case against Vincent Tabak at Bristol Crown Court.

Friday 29 October 2011

Vincent Tabak is found guilty of the murder of Miss Yeates.


Vincent Tabak strangled Joanna Yeates to gain sexual gratification

By Martin Evans -

October 21, 2011

Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting, accused the Dutch engineer of throttling Miss Yeates because it aroused him.

Dismissing Tabak’s claims that he had grabbed her throat in a panic after she screamed when he tried to kiss her, Mr Lickley said the killing had been motivated by sex.

As he continued his cross-examination, Mr Lickley said Tabak's attempt to kiss Miss Yeates showed he had sex on his mind prior to killing her.

Mr Lickley said: “That is sexual Vincent Tabak why won’t you admit that? Is it because there are other sexual elements to what happened?”

Tabak replied: “There were no other sexual elements.”

But Mr Lickley went on: “Was the holding of her throat by you, sexual in your mind?”

Speaking in a clear voice the defendant replied: “Definitely not.”

Mr Lickley continued: “Did you derive sexual gratification from holding her throat. Were you sexually aroused when you had your hand around her throat and your hand over her mouth?”

Tabak again replied: “Definitely not.”

Referring to the fact Miss Yeates's clothing had been pushed up above her chest area when she was found, Mr Lickley said: "You moved her clothing Vincent Tabak. You pulled up her top."

The defendant replied: "Not intentionally."

Mr Lickley went on: "Is that what made her scream?" Tabak said: "No, that is not what made her scream."

Mr Lickley also suggested that rather than being invited into Miss Yeates’s flat, Tabak had used her pet cat, Bernard, as a pretext to get her to open her door.

The court had earlier heard that the cat would often go into Tabak's flat next door.

The prosecutor suggested Tabak had knocked on Miss Yeates's door with the cat, knowing her boyfriend was away that weekend.

Tabak denied the claim and insisted Miss Yeates had waved at him from her kitchen window as he passed before inviting him in.

He told the court: "We were standing close to each other, she invited me in for a drink. She made a flirty comment. I thought she was flirtatious."

Tabak was asked why he had conducted internet research into the definition of sexual assault in the weeks after killing Miss Yeates.

He said: "I was worried that my pass at her could be seen as sexual conduct."

Mr Lickley said: “This was a sexual attack by you and part of that involved you strangling her and you wanted to kill her.”

Tabak replied: “Definitely not.”

The court also heard from Home Office pathologist Dr Nat Cary, who told the court he had worked on many cases involving sexual assault.

He explained: “There are some people, perhaps a pretty small number in the population who become sexually aroused by asphysxia.”

But he said there was no evidence to suggest that Miss Yeates had been subjected to sexual interference.

Asked by William Clegg QC, defending, what that suggested, Dr Cary said: “It means that in the end of the day to suggest this is a primarily sexual attack is largely speculative.”

The pathologist also told jurors: “Overall the injuries could be consistent during the course of a fairly short attack.”

Tabak admits manslaughter but denies murder.

The trial continues.


Vincent Tabak apologises to family of Joanna Yeates

Vincent Tabak broke down in tears today and apologised to the family of Joanna Yeates as he described the moment he strangled her.

By Murray Wardrop -

October 20, 2011

The 33-year-old, who admits manslaughter but denies murder, began giving his own version of events in a bid to explain claims he did not intend to kill her.

He tearfully apologised to Miss Yeates's parents as he explained how he tried to cover his tracks by dumping her body.

He said: "I'm so sorry for doing that. I put Joanna's parents through a week of hell. I still can't believe I did that.

"It will haunt me for the rest of my life, no matter what sentence I get."

As Miss Yeates' family listened to Tabak, they looked towards him with frowns on their faces.

The Dutchman said he put his hand on Miss Yeates's throat because he panicked and wanted to stop her screaming.

The court has previously heard that Tabak claims he misread his next-door neighbour's signals after she invited him in for a drink.

He says he put his hand to his 25-year-old victim's throat after she protested at his advances.

Defence QC William Clegg said Miss Yeates's death was tragic misfortune.

Miss Yeates is said to have invited Tabak into her flat after smiling at him as he walked past her kitchen window, Mr Clegg said.

Giving evidence, Tabak said he thought Miss Yeates wanted to kiss him, adding that he did not mean to kill her.

When asked why he put his hand to Miss Yeates's throat, Tabak said: "I was panicking. I wanted to stop her screaming. I wanted to calm her down."

After strangling her for less than a minute "she went limp, she fell to the floor", Tabak said, adding: "I still can't understand what happened."

Tabak told the court how he briefly took Miss Yeates's body back to his flat to put her in a bicycle cover, adding: "I carried her with my arms. One hand was underneath her back, the other was under her knees."

He also insisted that a text message received by his girlfriend from his phone telling her he was bored had been sent prior to Miss Yeates's death, not after, as the prosecution alleged.

He said he thought he left his flat "within minutes" after sending Tanja Morson a text message at 9.25pm saying: 'Missing you loads. It's boring here without you. Vxx'.

"I think I sent it before I decided to go to Asda," Tabak told the jury.

"I took my usual route past Flat 1" – Miss Yeates's flat.

Mr Clegg said Miss Yeates and Tabak were virtual strangers – but were both at loose ends at their flats in Clifton.

"If Joanna Yeates had stayed for one more drink in the Ram pub, she'd be alive today," the barrister said.

"If Vincent Tabak had left half an hour earlier to go to Asda, as was his intention, he wouldn't be standing in the dock now."

Mr Clegg has said he would not try to justify Tabak's actions after her death, saying his client was "living a lie" by attending dinner parties and attempting to carry on his life as normal.

He said it was "frankly disgusting" that Tabak had tried to hide the body and "did everything he could to cover his tracks".

But he urged the jury to focus on what happened in Miss Yeates's flat as Tabak takes to the stand this morning.

Mr Clegg said: "What he is being tried for is whether when he killed Joanna Yeates that was planned, premeditated and something that he intended to do, intended to kill or cause really serious harm to her, or whether when he was responsible for her death, when he killed her, he panicked and did it without thinking of the consequences, without intending that she should die, without intending that she should suffer really serious harm.

"That's the issue you need to focus on."

The trial continues.


Vincent Tabak researched unsolved murders after killing Joanna Yeates

Vincent Tabak researched the unsolved murders of Melanie Hall and Anni Dewani after strangling Joanna Yeates, a court heard today.

By Martin Evans -

October 19, 2011

The 33-year-old defendant also looked up satellite imagery of the site where he dumped Miss Yeates's body.

Lyndsey Farmery, an internet use analyst who assisted police with the investigation, took the jury through Tabak's online activity in the days after killing 25-year-old Miss Yeates.

Web records from work and personal laptops show he researched the Wikipedia page for murder and maximum sentence for manslaughter, she said.

While regularly checking the Avon and Somerset police website and a local news site, the Dutch engineer was also checking body decomposition rates.

Days after killing Miss Yeates at her Clifton flat on December 17, Tabak watched a time-lapse video of a body decomposing, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Tabak – who denies murder but admits manslaughter – also went on Google to look up the definition of sexual assault, find out about the pizza Miss Yeates bought, and extensively checked rubbish collections in the area.

He was also said to have looked at an online article entitled: "Did killer take sock as a trophy?"

Ms Farmery only spoke to confirm the images displayed as the jury was shown dozens of internet pages said to have been viewed by Tabak.

Yesterday, a prison chaplain told the court how Tabak confessed to killing Miss Yeates during an emotional meeting in jail.

Peter Brotherton, a voluntary Salvation Army chaplain at Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire said the Dutchman had unburdened himself on February 8 this year.

He said Tabak had requested a meeting, informing him: “I have something to tell you that will shock you.”

Giving evidence at Bristol Crown Court, Mr Brotherton said: “I said ‘you tell me and we will see’, or words to that effect.

“He said ‘I am going to change my plea to guilty’. He said it was to do with the crime he had committed.

“I said, ‘is this concerning the young lady from Bristol?’, he said ‘yes’.”

Mr Brotherton said Tabak was upset and said he was going to find it very difficult to tell his girlfriend, Tanja Morson.

The chaplain told the court he then advised him to contact his legal team and inform them of the decision and offered to pray with him.

While Mr Brotherton accepted he had told Tabak the conversation would be in confidence, he decided to tell his superiors because he did not regard it as a religious confession.

But under cross-examination by William Clegg QC, defending, Mr Brotherton accepted that Tabak had not told him he wanted to change his plea, only that he intended to plead guilty.

Mr Brotherton also told the court that Tabak was depressed and distressed and had been on suicide watch on the prison’s health care unit.

He said Tabak had been angry that he had breached his confidence and told him he would not tell him anything else.

Earlier as jurors were taken through DNA evidence, Miss Yeates’s Mother Teresa wept as a picture of her daughter’s body was shown in court.

She looked away and was comforted by her husband David as the harrowing photograph was displayed on a monitor.

The mortuary image showed the 25-year-old landscape architect lying fully clothed in the fetal position with her pink top pushed up, exposing her bra.

As Mr Yeates supported his wife, he looked over his shoulder from the public gallery towards Tabak, 33, who was sitting in the dock with his head in his hands.

The photograph – along with others – had been shown to the jury on Friday but Mr and Mrs Yeates were not in court.

The court also heard that DNA matching that of Tabak was found on swabs taken from the breasts and nipples of Miss Yeates.

Traces of his DNA were also found on the waistband of the jeans she was wearing when she was found.

The hearing continues.


Vincent Tabak confessed Joanna Yeates killing in emotional meeting with prison chaplain

A prison chaplain has told how Vincent Tabak confessed to killing Joanna Yeates during an emotional meeting in jail.

By Martin Evans -

October 18, 2011

Peter Brotherton, a voluntary Salvation Army chaplain at Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire said the Dutchman had unburdened himself on February 8 this year.

He said Tabak had requested a meeting, informing him: “I have something to tell you that will shock you.”

Giving evidence at Bristol Crown Court, Mr Brotherton said: “I said ‘you tell me and we will see’, or words to that effect.

“He said ‘I am going to change my plea to guilty’. He said it was to do with the crime he had committed.

“I said, ‘is this concerning the young lady from Bristol?’, he said ‘yes’.”

Mr Brotherton said Tabak was upset and said he was going to find it very difficult to tell his girlfriend, Tanja Morson.

The chaplain told the court he then advised him to contact his legal team and inform them of the decision and offered to pray with him.

While Mr Brotherton accepted he had told Tabak the conversation would be in confidence, he decided to tell his superiors because he did not regard it as a religious confession.

But under cross-examination by William Clegg QC, defending, Mr Brotherton accepted that Tabak had not told him he wanted to change his plea, only that he intended to plead guilty.

Mr Brotherton also told the court that Tabak was depressed and distressed and had been on suicide watch on the prison’s healthcare unit.

He said Tabak had been angry that he had breached his confidence and told him he would not tell him anything else.

Earlier as jurors were taken through DNA evidence, Miss Yeates’s mother Teresa wept as a picture of her daughter’s body was shown in court.

She looked away and was comforted by her husband David as the harrowing photograph was displayed on a monitor.

The mortuary image showed the 25-year-old landscape architect lying fully clothed in the foetal position with her pink top pushed up, exposing her bra.

As Mr Yeates supported his wife, he looked over his shoulder from the public gallery towards Tabak, 33, who was sitting in the dock with his head in his hands.

The photograph - along with others - had been shown to the jury on Friday but Mr and Mrs Yeates were not in court.

The court also heard that DNA matching that of Tabak was found on swabs taken from the breasts and nipples of Miss Yeates.

Traces of his DNA were also found on the waistband of the jeans she was wearing when she was found.

Forensic scientist Tanya Nickson, who examined bloodstains found on a wall next to where Miss Yeates had been found on Christmas morning on Longwood Lane, in Failand, said the pattern indicated smearing rather than splattering.

She said this suggested that someone had been attempting to put the body over the wall into the quarry below.

Ms Nickson told the jury: "The presence of the blood on the top of the wall may indicate that an attempt was made to deposit the body over the top of the wall."


Vincent Tabak trial: Joanna Yeates 'may have been strangled with one hand'

Joanna Yeates's killer may have used just one hand to strangle her, the jury in the trial of Vincent Tabak heard today.

By Martin Evans -

October 17, 2011

During cross-examination by Tabak's lawyer QC William Clegg, pathologist Russell Delaney said he could not "exclude the use of one hand".

He also said that while it is not possible to determine the exact duration of the sequence that led to Miss Yeates' death, it could be a matter of seconds rather than minutes.

Miss Yeates suffered 43 injuries at the hands of Tabak at her flat in Clifton, Bristol, on December 17, Bristol Crown Court has heard.

Mr Clegg asked whether it would have been impossible for Miss Yeates to scream as her neck was being squeezed.

"That would depend on the nature of the neck compression," Dr Delaney replied.

When Mr Clegg asked if her injuries were consistent with being strangled with one hand, Dr Delaney replied: "Or two, yes."

Tabak, 33, admits manslaughter but denies murdering 25-year-old Miss Yeates.

Blood found on Miss Yeates's pink T-shirt may have been deposited after her death, Dr Delaney added.

Dr Delaney took to the witness box for a second day as bereaved boyfriend Greg Reardon prepared to give evidence.

Mr Reardon and Rebecca Scott, a close friend of the couple, will be asked about their last contact with Miss Yeates.

On the night of her death, she is said to have told a colleague she was dreading being without Mr Reardon for the weekend while he visited family in Sheffield.

Miss Yeates's body was found "in a fetal-type position" on Christmas Day by dog walker Daniel Birch.

Mr Birch and his wife, Rebecca, spotted the pocket of her denim jeans exposed through the snow as they walked their chocolate Labrador Roxy along Longwood Lane, Failand, Somerset.

Today marks the beginning of the second week of the trial.

Last week, Tabak held his head in his hands and covered his eyes as images of Miss Yeates' dead body were shown to the jury at Bristol Crown Court.

At one point the 33-year-old Dutch engineer, who was Miss Yeates’s next-door neighbour, removed his spectacles and wiped tears from his face as the photographs appeared on a 17-inch monitor in front of the dock.

The graphic images showed Miss Yeates lying in a fetal position wearing blue jeans and a pink T-shirt, which had been pushed up exposing her bra.

Laid on her side, her right arm was bent around her head while her left was resting straight across her body.

Tabak appeared visibly distressed as a close-up image of her face, with blood stained short blonde hair was shown to the court.

Miss Yeates’s eyes were closed and one of her earring studs was still in place.

A picture of her right foot with the sock removed was also shown.

She had been wearing a chunky white watch with a silver necklace and pendant.

Abrasions and bruises could be clearly seen on her neck and face and were among 43 separate injuries found during post-mortem examinations.

The images were shown as Home Office pathologist Dr Russell Delaney explained to the jury details of his examination of her body.

Dr Delaney said the body had been frozen rigid when it was recovered and he was initially unable to conduct a full post-mortem until it had fully thawed out.

He explained that he was able to ascertain that the vast majority of the injuries had been sustained while Miss Yeates was alive.

Dr Delaney said: "Bruising only occurs when the heart is beating – so the injuries occurred during life."

Miss Yeates’s snow-covered body was discovered in a remote country lane by a couple walking their dog on Christmas morning last year.

In a written statement read to the court, Daniel Birch, described how he and his wife had made the gruesome discovery as they were out with their chocolate Labrador, Roxy.

Mr Birch explained he had seen a lump in the snow piled up on the verge of Longwood Lane and noticed a piece of denim poking through.

He said: “I did not think about it straight away and carried on walking. After about 10 paces my mind was saying, ‘that was a body’, to me.

“I handed the dog to my wife, I remember saying to Rebecca, ‘that was a body back there’, and walked back to the lump in the snow.

“I could see the form of a human body covered in snow. It was lying on its side, facing the wall, parallel to the road.”

He added: “Although the body was almost covered in snow there was a small section with not covered. I could see what appeared to be a rear jeans pocket.”

The prosecution claim Tabak strangled Miss Yeates on the evening of December 17 before dumping her body in Longwood Lane and covering her in leaves.

Snow that fell that night also resulted in her body being further concealed.

The court heard that Tabak searched the internet in the aftermath of Yeates' death for information about decomposition of bodies. He also used the internet to look up the differences in sentencing for murder and manslaughter.

Tabak has admitted manslaughter but denies murder. The trial continues.


Joanna Yeates trial: snow covered body found by dog walker

Photographs of the snow-covered body of Joanna Yeates have been shown to the jury as a dog walker described the moment he found her remains.

By Martin Evans -

October 14, 2011

In a written statement read out to Bristol Crown Court, Daniel Birch said he had his wife Rebecca had been walking their chocolate Labrador, Roxy, on Christmas morning when they made the gruesome discovery.

Mr Birch said he had seen a lump in the snow piled up on the verge of Longwood Lane and noticed a piece of denim poking through.

Miss Yeates had been missing for eight days when her body was found.

Describing the events, Mr Birch said: “I saw a lump in the snow on the left hand verge and I thought I saw what appeared to be a denim jeans pocket.

“I did not think about it straight away and carried on walking. After about 10 paces my mind was saying, ‘that was a body’, to me.

“I handed the dog to my wife Rebecca, I remember saying to Rebecca, ‘that was a body back there’, and walked back to the lump in the snow.

“I could see the form of a human body covered in snow. It was lying on its side, facing the wall, parallel to the road.”

He added: “Although the body was almost covered in snow there was a small section with not covered. I could see what appeared to be a rear jeans pocket.

“Although also riding up above this the top edge of what appeared to be white coloured knickers and that made me think it was a female.”

The jury was shown images of the snow-covered body as forensic officer, Martin Faithfull, described the operation to retrieve her body.

At one point as the images were shown on a screen, Tabak, who is accused of murdering the 25-year-old landscape architect, appeared to dab his eyes and placed his head in his hands.

Mr Faithfull told the court how the forensic team had made efforts to prevent Miss Yeates frozen body from thawing out, in order to avoid losing any potentially significant evidence.

Miss Yeates suffered 43 injuries after being strangled by Tabak at her Clifton flat on December 17, the court has heard.

He has admitted manslaughter but denies murder.

The trial continues.


Pathologist to give evidence at Joanna Yeates murder trial

The pathologist who recorded 43 injuries on Joanna Yeates's body will give evidence at her murder trial today.

By Martin Evans -

October 14, 2011

Dr Russell Delaney is said to have found 12 wounds to her head and neck, three to her trunk and 12 to her right arm.

Jurors are also due to hear evidence from Daniel Birch, the dog walker who discovered her frozen corpse on Christmas Day.

Mr Birch made the grim discovery during an early-morning wander in Failand, near Bristol.

Yesterday Bristol Crown Court heard how Joanna Yeates's killer Vincent Tabak drank champagne at a friend’s birthday party the night after he strangled the 25 year-old.

Tabak, 33, appeared his usual self after the killing and, following another social gathering, even offered to see home safely a female friend who was worried about what had happened to Miss Yeates, the court was told.

The night after the killing, Tabak was described as “bored” and “disinterested” at the party as he stared across the room and drank a glass of champagne.

The previous evening, Miss Yeates told her friends that she was dreading being home alone at her Bristol flat for the first time hours before her neighbour killed her, the court heard.

During an after-work drink, the landscape architect said she was not looking forward to the weekend because her boyfriend, Greg Reardon, with whom she lived, was visiting his family in Sheffield.

Elisabeth Chandler, the office manager at BDP, the firm where Miss Yeates and Mr Reardon worked, told Bristol Crown Court in a written statement: “Jo told me that she was dreading the weekend because it was the first time she was going to be left on her own. Her partner Greg, who I know, was going away.”

Despite her concerns, other colleagues said she was her usual “jovial” self on the night she was killed.

Darragh Bellew, who also works as a landscape architect at BDP and had been in the Bristol Ram pub on December 17 last year, said Miss Yeates said she was planning to spend the weekend baking bread and cakes.

“We had a joke and said she was going to bring them into the office on Monday morning,” he told the jury.

The prosecution claims that, within an hour of leaving the pub at around 8pm, Miss Yeates had been murdered by Tabak. Her snow-covered body was found around three miles away by dog walkers on Christmas morning.

The night after she was killed, Linda Marland said she spoke to Tabak as her daughter Elizabeth celebrated her 24th birthday at a bar in Bristol. Mrs Marland’s daughter had stayed in Tabak’s spare room while he was working in Los Angeles in the autumn, she said.

She told the court: “Vincent sounded tired and disinterested. He was being short with his answers, not elaborating.

“He only looked at me once. The rest of the time he was staring up the room. I got the impression Vincent was bored with my conversation. He was drinking a glass of champagne.”

The jury heard from other friends of Tabak, who described his “happy and relaxed” demeanour in the weeks after the killing. Sarah Maddock, a solicitor, who attended a dinner party with Tabak and his girlfriend, Tanja Morson, said the group had discussed the case and had agreed it was very mysterious.

The court heard that one of the female guests had been worried about walking home alone that night because of what had happened to Miss Yeates, and Tabak had offered to see her home safely.

In her statement, Ms Maddock said Tabak had not looked uncomfortable during their discussion of the killing and he had said: “Someone would have to be a totally detached, crazy person to be able to act normally after doing something like that.”

Ms Maddock said Tabak “was his usual quiet, calm self” during the evening.

Andrew Lillie, the host of the dinner party, told the jury that Tabak had made jokes about the investigation, claiming police who searched his flat had looked in a drawer for Miss Yeates’s body.


Jo Yeates murder suspect arrested 'after sobbing tip-off from anonymous caller distraught by parents' TV appeal'


January 22, 2011

The Dutch architect arrested on suspicion of the murder of Joanna Yeates was held by police after an anonymous tip-off, it has been claimed.

Vincent Tabak, 32, was taken into custody this week after Avon and Somerset Police received an emotional phonecall from a woman moved by the television appeal by Ms Yeates’ parents.

As officers were given an extra 30 hours to quiz the Dutchman, it was suggested police had spoken to his girlfriend Tanja Morson, though detectives have refused to confirm if she implicated her boyfriend.

Mr Tabak had lived with 34-year-old Ms Morson in the flat next door to Miss Yeates in the Clifton area of Bristol, though conflicting reports yesterday suggested the couple may have recently split.

The vital call to Crimewatch that preceded Mr Tabak's arrest reportedly came after Ms Yeates' parents David and Teresa recorded an appeal for the BBC1 show, according to The Sun.

The bereaved couple said: 'If you know something and do not come forward you are consciously hampering the apprehension of Jo's killer and the perpetrator is still free.

'You will also be prolonging the torment of Jo's family and friends.'

Yesterday, as detectives were granted extra time to question Mr Tabak, Miss Morson turned up for work as usual at Dyson, in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, where she is a financial analyst. A colleague confirmed she was there, but was not taking calls.

Her father yesterday insisted that it was ‘absurd’ to suggest that Miss Morson and Tabak were no longer an item.

But on the day Tabak was arrested he had been rather less sure about the status of his daughter’s relationship with the suspect, saying: ‘I do not know if he is her boyfriend or not. He’s a boy, she’s a girl and they are friendly with each other.’

Photos on Facebook show the couple had a fun and loving relationship. In one they pose in fancy dress at a summer festival and in another they are seen at a 10km run.

Meanwhile, more evidence of a disturbance on December 17 emerged. A resident living in the building directly behind 44 Canynge Road has told police he heard a woman screaming ‘Help me’ on the night Miss Yeates went missing.

He heard the cries from his bedroom, which looks on to the ground-floor flats which are now screened with tarpaulin while forensic experts continue to examine them.

The neighbour reported the incident to police before Christmas, when Miss Yeates was still being treated as a missing person. He was interviewed again after a murder inquiry began.

He said: ‘I was in my bedroom with the blind down when I heard someone scream “Help me” in a loud, high-pitched voice.’

The description of the cry follows reports from a woman at a party in a house opposite of two loud screams at around 9pm on December 17, shortly after Miss Yeates is believed to have arrived home.

A pedestrian passing Canynge Road also heard screams.

Yesterday it was also reported that DNA traces were found underneath Miss Yeates’s clothing, suggesting that she may have been sexually assaulted. Samples were found on the 25-year-old’s midriff and jeans.

It was already known that police had obtained DNA from her body – but it was not known how many traces or where they were found.

All three are thought to have been from the killer’s saliva, but have yielded only partial results. Sources said that they should be enough to rule out suspects over her murder – but probably not enough to conclusively prove anyone’s guilt.

Until now, police have said there was no direct sign of Jo being sexually attacked. But they had stressed it could have been the motive.

A police source said: ‘The fact that DNA samples have been found on her bare body could well mean whoever murdered Jo tried to sexually assault her beforehand.’

Yesterday forensic officers continued their search of a cordoned-off property on Aberdeen Road, Bristol, where Tabak was arrested on Thursday morning. The experts were carrying long ladders, suggesting they may have been checking the loft for clues.

Police have been given an extra 30 hours to question Tabak, giving them until late tonight either to charge or release him on bail.

A force spokesman said yesterday: 'Police have this morning been granted extra time to question a 32-year-old man arrested yesterday on suspicion of the murder of Jo Yeates.'


Man next door quizzed over Jo Yeates murder: Police hold architect, 32, as they start new search

By Luke Salkeld, Ryan Kisiel, Christian Gysin, Michael Seamark and Andrew Levy -

January 21, 2011

An architect who lived in the flat next to Joanna Yeates has been arrested on suspicion of her murder.

Vincent Tabak, 32, was seized by police in a pre-dawn raid at a friend’s house in Clifton, Bristol, yesterday. This morning police were granted more time to question him.

Detectives had spoken to the Dutch national in the very early stages of their inquiry but ruled him out as a suspect.

Detectives were today granted a further 12 hours to question him and will then have to apply to magistrates for a further extension.

A force spokesman said: 'Police have this morning been granted extra time to question a 32-year-old man arrested yesterday on suspicion of the murder of Jo Yeates.'

The Daily Mail has been told that he left Britain for Holland to spend Christmas with his family two days after the landscape architect was last seen alive.

Police believe Miss Yeates, 25, arrived at her flat on Friday December 17 after walking home from a pub where she had been drinking with colleagues. Her body was found near a golf course on Christmas Day.

Tabak rented Flat 2 at 44 Canynge Road with his girlfriend, directly adjacent to Miss Yeates’s Flat 1.

Yesterday a team of officers closed off Canynge Road and put up scaffolding and 12ft-high tarpaulin barriers around the two ground floor flats.

These were once connected via a door that was bricked up when the building was converted to flats.

Forensic experts also began a fresh search of a nearby flat which is home to one of Tabak’s friends.

Officers cordoned off a townhouse on Aberdeen Road, around a mile away, just after midday.

Last night they loaded three wheelie bins and a mountain bike from the house into an unmarked white transit van.

Another police vehicle marked ‘Scientific Investigations’ had earlier been parked outside the address, which is usually occupied by 31-year-old Emily Williams, who is currently in South America.

It is believed she was letting Tabak stay while the police activity at Canynge Road made his flat uninhabitable.

Her street is in Redland, an affluent Bristol area popular with students and professionals, which borders Clifton.

Neighbours said Tabak left Britain on December 19 and returned only recently.

Yesterday Avon and Somerset Constabulary refused to confirm whether he was the 32-year-old man they had arrested, despite the obvious police presence at his home and workplace.

Calls to his office at the architectural firm Buro Happold Ltd in Bath were also directed to the force investigating Miss Yeates’s murder.

Yesterday her father, who this week made an emotional appeal to anyone who may have been hiding her killer to come forward, said he was pleased the investigation had made progress.

With his wife Teresa at his side at their home in Ampfield, Hampshire, and holding Miss Yeates’s cat Bernard, he said: ‘Both Teresa and I are very pleased an arrest has been made and the investigation is moving forward.

‘Police informed us at 6am this morning that someone had been arrested on suspicion of Jo’s murder, and their age.

‘They told us before they made the announcement about the arrest and other than that we do not know much more.

‘We are optimistic about the progress, but we have not been told the name of the person who has been arrested.’

He later added: ‘I have never heard of Vincent Tabak, nor had Jo ever mentioned him. I have never met anyone who lives in flat two of Jo’s block.’

It is not known whether Tabak knew Miss Yeates and Mr Reardon before they became such close neighbours last year.

He had moved to Britain in 2007 to work in Bath and lived in the city before moving to the affluent area of Clifton in 2009 to set up home with his girlfriend Tanja Morson, a treasury analyst at Dyson in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

Miss Morson is a fitness fan. She has run for the Bristol-based Westbury Harriers club and both she and Tabak have taken part in several ten-kilometre running events. Tabak had previously refused to speak to reporters about the murder.

Miss Yeates had been strangled and her body dumped on the grass verge of a country lane in Failand, North Somerset, three miles from where she lived.

Her body was clothed apart from a sock which was missing, while her phone, purse, keys, boots and coat were all found back at her £200,000 flat.

Police also found two bottles of cider, and the receipt for a Tesco pizza, which tests showed was not eaten by Miss Yeates, and has never been found.

Detectives have 24 hours to hold a suspect initially, but can apply for several extensions, as they did with Miss Yeates’s landlord Chris Jefferies, the 65-year-old who was released on bail.

This week it emerged that detectives hunting the murderer had enlisted the help of the forensic laboratory which helped catch Rachel Nickell’s killer. Scientists were understood to be examining a ‘partial’ DNA sample found on Miss Yeates’s strangled body.

And last week her final text message was revealed.

She invited a male friend out for a drink on the night she was murdered.

But he was busy at a Christmas party and did not reply for an hour - by which time she was not answering.

After the Avon and Somerset Constabulary announced yesterday’s arrest, Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones said: ‘I would like to thank the public for their continued support for the investigation and the information they have provided to us.

‘I would also like to pay tribute to Jo’s family and to Greg who continue to be unfailing in their support to me and my team at what is an incredibly difficult and painful time for them.’

Dutchman called 'beanpole' with a love of sailing

Relaxing on a sailing holiday, architect Vincent Tabak looks like any adventurous young man. Enjoying the outdoor life, he appears carefree and happy.

But yesterday this lanky and talented Dutchman was at the centre of the Joanna Yeates mystery after he was arrested on suspicion of her murder.

To his former neighbours in Bath, Somerset, 32-year-old Mr Tabak – who is 6ft 4in tall – was known as a ‘mild-mannered beanpole’.

Indeed, on the street where the sailing enthusiast lived until 18 months ago, news of yesterday morning’s arrest was met with astonishment.

One resident said: ‘I cannot believe he has been caught up in this murder inquiry.

‘He was a very nice and considerate young man. We were sad when he left. He was very personable and polite.’

Mr Tabak moved into the one-bedroom flat three-and-a-half years ago when he started work at Bath-based engineering consultancy, Buro Happold.

The neighbour, who didn’t wish to be named, said the ‘quiet and helpful’ man would often invite friends and family from Holland to his rented home in fashionable Walcot Parade.

In 2009, Mr Tabak moved into Flat 2 at 44 Canynge Road with his girlfriend, lawyer’s daughter Tanja Morson, 34.

Jo Yeates lived at No 4 with her boyfriend, Greg Reardon.

‘She (Miss Morson) was an occasional visitor and he told me that he wanted a bigger place they could share in Bristol,’ said the former Bath neighbour.

The couple’s sailing holiday took place several years ago and Mr Tabak uploaded his photos onto the internet to share with friends.

He was born in February 1978 in Veghel, a town with a population approaching 40,000 north of Eindhoven, to parents Sonja and Gerald and he has several sisters and a brother.

Fluent in Dutch, English and German, after school in 1996 he began studying at Eindhoven University of Technology, where he gained a degree in architecture, building and planning.

Between 1999 and 2003 Mr Tabak worked as a research assistant and part-time teaching assistant at the university before embarking on a PhD on ‘User Simulation of Space Utilisation’ – a research project looking at developing a system exploring links between buildings and the movement of humans within offices.

In his thesis the Dutchman had warm words of praise for his partner, saying: ‘I want to thank my girlfriend Tanja Morson for her support in the last difficult month of my PhD. I am very happy that she entered my life.’

Mr Tabak – who on a CV lists his interests as hiking and travelling in south and north America and Asia, photography and sailing – moved to Britain in 2007 and started working at global consulting engineers Buro Happold that September as a ‘people flow consultant’.

Projects the company has been involved in include the recent re-design of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford and the £220million restoration of London’s Savoy hotel.

Last night the company was referring all inquiries about Mr Tabak – whose unusual Facebook photograph is his elongated shadow cast on grass – to Avon and Somerset Police.

Mr Tabak’s girlfriend, Miss Morson, works as a treasury analyst for Dyson in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

Her father, Geoffrey, declined to discuss developments yesterday at the £1million detached home in one of the most exclusive roads in Cambridge.

The Canadian citizen, who has worked in the U.S. as a lawyer, said: ‘I don’t know anything. I don’t know the young woman who was reported to be murdered, although I am very sorry about what happened to her.

‘Tanja’s mother, Elisabeth, expressed concern at his welfare, saying: ‘We saw what happened to the landlord and don’t want to see that happen to our lovely Vincent.’



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