28 Oct 2011

Tabak guilty of ‘evil’ Joanna Yeates murder

Home Affairs Correspondent

Vincent Tabak has been found guilty at Bristol Crown Court of murdering Joanna Yeates. Police believe he killed her after watching videos of women being throttled during sex. Andy Davies was in court.

Warning: This report contains detail of a sexual and distressing nature.

Tabak, 33, now faces life behind bars for strangling Joanna Yeates, in a murder which the judge condemned as “a dreadful, evil act on a vulnerable young woman”.

Relatives of Miss Yeates, who was 25 when she died at Christmas last year, watched from the public gallery as jurors rejected Tabak’s claim that he did not mean to kill her.

Instead, they found he was a “shrewd” liar who hid Miss Yeates’s body after he strangled her to death.

The verdict comes despite prosecutors being blocked by the judge from telling jurors about Tabak’s sex life, as he ruled it could damage the prospects of a fair trial.

However it can now be revealed that police believe Tabak had been sexually aroused during the attack, although there was no evidence of a sex attack on Miss Yeates.

The best we can hope for him is that he spends the rest of his life incarcerated where his life is a living hell, being the recipient of all evils, deprivations and degradations that his situation can provide. Joanna Yeates’s parents

Videos recovered from his laptop show blonde women being throttled during sex and the judge said he believed there was a “sexual element” to the murder.

Police also found that in the weeks after her murder, Tabak searched “Jo Yeates” on Google less than two minutes before looking at a pornographic website, which included images of women being held by the throat.

Channel 4 News Home Affairs Correspondent Andy Davies was in court.

He said: “At 3.10pm the jury foreman delivered the verdict: ‘Guilty’.

“Vincent Tabak, surrounded by six security guards, closed his eyes and hung his head. Greg Reardon, Joanna Yeates’s boyfriend, sitting in the front row of the public gallery looked straight ahead, showing little emotion. As he sat down, Tabak once again – as he had done throughout this trial – held his head in his hands before the judge, Mr Justice Field, proceeded to sentence the 33-year-old to life imprisonment.

“The judge said there were no mitigating factors in this case, labelling Tabak a very dangerous and deceitful man who had caused ‘devastating heartache’. There were aggravating factors, however, he told the court, including the fact that Joanna had ‘died in pain, beset with fear, struggling desperately with her life’.

“As Tabak was led away from the court, Greg Reardon turned in his seat and stared for some time in the direction of his girlfriend’s murderer as he disappeared from the dock. Joanna’s parents did not attend court today.”

Vincent Tabak guilty of Joanna Yeates murder (Getty)

Responding to the verdict, Miss Yeates’ parents said they wished capital punishment remained an option.

In a statement read out by police, they said: “For us, it is with regret that capital punishment is not a possible option for (Tabak’s) sentence,” they said.

“The best we can hope for him is that he spends the rest of his life incarcerated where his life is a living hell, being the recipient of all evils, deprivations and degradations that his situation can provide.”

The detective leading the Joanna Yeates murder inquiry fought back tears as he attacked her “intelligent and manipulative” killer.

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones praised her parents and boyfriend Greg Reardon for the “dignity” they had shown.

The officer said: “Vincent Tabak is an intelligent and manipulative man. After killing Joanna he had the presence of mind to dispose of her body together with evidence linking him to her flat. He then constructed a cunning plan to cover his tracks.”

What happened the night Joanna Yeates died?

Joanna Yeates suffered 43 injuries as she fought for her life before being strangled by her neighbour, Dutchman Vincent Tabak, on 17 December in her flat in Clifton, Bristol.

Miss Yeates, who did not know her killer’s name, is believed to have died within 20 seconds of Tabak grabbing her neck.

After he killed her, Tabak took her body to his flat next door and put it into a bicycle bag in the boot of his car. He then went shopping in Asda with her body in the car, buying rock salt, crisps and beer.

While he was in the supermarket, he texted his girlfriend to say he was bored, but within an hour he had dumped Miss Yeates’s partially-clothed body in the foetal position on a snowy verge in the village of Failand, near Bristol.

Just 24 hours later he was drinking champagne with friends – a sharp contrast from Miss Yeates’s friends and family, who were entering a hell from which they have not yet emerged. Joanna’s body was found on Christmas Day.