24 Jan 2011

Jo Yeates murder charge: suspect remanded in custody

The next-door neighbour of landscape architect Joanna Yeates has appeared in court charged with her murder.

Vincent Tabak has appeared before Bristol magistrates

32-year-old Dutch national Vincent Tabak was remanded in custody at Bristol Magistrates’ Court and is expected to appear at Bristol Crown Court tomorrow charged with killing the 25-year-old.

During this morning’s four-minute hearing, he spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth. No plea was entered and no details of the prosecution case against him were given in court. A Dutch interpreter was present but Mr Tabak did not appear to have any difficulty understanding the proceedings.

He was arrested last Thursday at an address about a mile from the flat he shares with his girlfriend Tanja Morson on Canynge Road in the Clifton area of Bristol. It is next door to the home rented by Miss Yeates and her boyfriend Greg Reardon, 27.

Our reporter, Darshna Soni, was in court. She writes: Journalists queued for over an hour to get into Bristol magistrates court. The actual hearing would last just 4 minutes - but this has been such a high profile case, that we were all keen to get a glimpse of Vincent Tabak, the man accused of murdering his next door neighbour Jo Yeates.

Some members of the public had turned up as well. They looked bemused when reporters kept asking them how long they had known the Dutch engineer. "I saw all these people fighting to get into the courtroom and just wanted to see what was going on," one man told me.

Mr Tabak was led in, and journalists quickly started to note down his appearance. Red jumper, glasses, very tall. When the magistrate asked him to confirm his name and address, he spoke loudly in a clear voice. An interpreter had been provided, but the trilingual engineer told the court he understood the proceedings.

It was his first appearance and so no details were given of the crime he is alleged to have committed.

"I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to write about this," one newspaper reporter said. I saw him later trying to interview a court clerk. "I just need a few words. Has this been your busiest ever day...was it stressful trying to get everyone into the room... just a few words..."



Police search

Police forensic teams are continuing to search the property. Mr Tabak is an engineer specialising in the flow of people through buildings. He speaks three languages and has a Masters science degree and PhD.

Joanna Yeates disappeared on 17 December, after going for Christmas drinks with colleagues at her architectural firm. Her boyfriend reported her missing after he returned to Bristol two days later following a weekend visiting family in Sheffield.

Miss Yeates’s frozen body was found on Christmas Day, left on a verge in Longwood Lane, Failand, North Somerset. A post-mortem examination revealed she had been strangled.

Her landlord, Chris Jefferies, 66, was arrested on 30 December and questioned for three days on suspicion of murder before being released on bail.

Earlier, Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones, who led the inquiry, thanked the public and Miss Yeates’s family for their support in the investigation. “I would like to pay tribute to Jo’s family and Greg for their assistance and dignity in the most difficult of circumstances,” he said.