Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Put Jo's Family through Hell

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Put Jo's Family through Hell

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Cheston Courts Correspondent

THE family of Joanna Yeates sat feet away from her killer Vincent Tabak today as he described how he strangled her, then dumped her body by the side of the road.

Holding hands, David and Teresa listened intently as engineer Tabak told how he killed the 25-year-old landscape architect in a panic after trying to "calm her down". He then put her body in his car boot and went shopping for beer and crisps at Asda before leaving it by a remote lane.

Weeping, the 33-year-old Dutchman closed his eyes as 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." He said he did not mean to take her life, telling the jury: "I got the impression she wanted to kiss me. She had been friendly."

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."

He admits manslaughter but denies murder. Miss Yeates's brother Christopher and her boyfriend Greg Reardon were also at Bristol crown court to hear Tabak describe how he made a pass at her within 10 minutes of her inviting him into her flat last December.

"She started to scream quite loudly. I panicked and I put Continued on Page 9

Continued from Page 1 one of my hands over her mouth. I said something like 'I'm sorry, it's okay. Please stop'." 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."

As Mr Clegg asked Tabak about his actions following Miss Yeates's death, he began to break down. He looked at the floor and rubbed his eyes and the top of his head.

He told the jury he had been in a "state of despair" and could not believe he had gone to Asda. He said he believed he was picking up on his original plans for that evening. When asked about the text he sent to his live-in girlfriend Tanja Morson from Asda, he said he was reaching out, that he needed to hear her voice.

The defendant told the court Joanna had waved to him through her kitchen window and invited him into her flat. She made a "flirty" comment and he sensed she wanted to kiss him. But when she screamed, he put his hand over her mouth and around her neck.

When she collapsed, he placed her body on her bed. Then he put her on the bed in the spare room in his flat while he decided what to do. The court has heard he put her in the boot of his car, before dumping her beside a secluded lane in the North Somerset countryside where she lie undiscovered until Christmas Day, a week later.

He admitted: "I did something horrendous when I decided to leave her body there. I was responsible for her death -- I'm so very sorry."

The 6ft 4in tall Tabak told the jury he had spent the day of Joanna's death sending love messages to Miss Morson. …

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