Friday 24 February 2017

Jo was dreading weekend, court told

Tom Morgan and Rod Minchin

JOANNA Yeates told friends she was "dreading" spending the weekend alone, hours before she was killed, a court heard today.

Over a drink the 25-year-old confided in a work colleague of her fears of spending Saturday and Sunday without her boyfriend Greg Reardon, who was visiting family in Sheffield.

Jurors at Bristol Crown Court heard that Miss Yeates, who worked as a landscape architect at BDP, told office manager Elizabeth Chandler that she planned to spend the weekend baking.

"Jo told me that she was dreading the weekend because it was the first time she was going to be left on her own," she said in a written statement read to the jury.

"Her partner Greg, who I know, was going away."

The court heard that Miss Yeates made the comment as she joined staff from BDP in the Ram pub, in Park Street, Bristol, for a usual Friday night post-work drink on December 17.

Other colleagues who had been in the pub with Miss Yeates that night told the trial of her next-door neighbour Vincent Tabak that she "did not appear in the best of moods" and was "bored", while others said she was her usual "jovial" self.

Darragh Bellew, a landscape architect colleague of Miss Yeates, said she bought him a pint during the festive drinks.

When junior prosecution barrister Nicholas Rowland asked him whether she was drunk, Mr Bellew told the jury: "Not at all, just jovial, her usual self."

CCTV footage played to the jury showed Miss Yeates and Mr Bellew leaving their office on Park Street, using a cashpoint, then walking up the hill to the Ram.

Inside the pub, Mr Bellew asked her what she had planned for the weekend.

"She replied that she was going to bake some cakes and bread over the weekend because Greg was away," he told the court.

"We had a joke and said she was going to bring them into the office on Monday morning."

He was alerted that something might have happened to Miss Yeates when Mr Reardon called him at midnight on the Sunday.

Mr Bellew added: "He said he had got back to the flat and found it strange that all Jo's belongings were there."

In a written statement colleague Michael Brown told the court: "I remember texting Jo and betting her 50p that Chris was going to win The Apprentice show on the BBC," he said.

"She said she didn't have any plans for the weekend and appeared bored and she planned to do baking."

Mr Brown said he had a joke with Miss Yeates but added: "Jo was not in the best of moods and appeared bored."

Dutch engineer Tabak, 33, admits manslaughter but denies Miss Yeates' murder.

BDP architect Samuel Huscroft said he had planned to go to the Ram but he was not feeling well and because of the pre-Christmas crowds he went home.

He said that later on he received a text from Miss Yeates which said: "Where are you this fine evening?"

Mr Huscroft said he texted back but did not receive a reply.

Jurors also heard a statement from Peter Lindsell, a former colleague of Miss Yeates at BDP, who she had also texted that evening.

She wrote: "Where art thou?"

Mr Lindsell said he replied immediately and said he was at Bristol Temple Meads station waiting for a train to Reading.

At 8.24pm, Miss Yeates replied: "On my tod, just thinking about how much fun your birthday was."

Jurors also heard a statement from Matthew Wood, who was a friend of Miss Yeates' older brother Chris and who lived in Bristol.

At 8.26pm on the night Miss Yeates died he received a text from her, which said: "Matt, are you out tonight?"

Mr Wood said that he was at his staff Christmas party and did not see the message until 9.22pm when he replied. He said he never got a reply.

Father George Henwood told jurors that he had exchanged brief words with Miss Yeates as she walked home to her flat in Canynge Road and he exercised his Labrador dog on a cold, icy night.

"There was a young lady. I said, 'It's slippy isn't it?'," the priest told jurors.

"She said, 'Yes it is', and turned and looked at me."

Father Henwood said that Miss Yeates carried on walking along Canynge Road and he continued the usual route he took exercising his dog.

A partygoer and a neighbour both told how they heard screams on the night of Miss Yeates' death but dismissed the noise as students.

Matthew Phillips said in a police statement that he heard a "shriek" while walking to a drinks party at 53 Canynge Road.

Harry Walker told the court he heard a yell at about 8.30pm as he prepared to sit down for pudding with his girlfriend.

He told jurors: "I would say it was definitely a human noise. It was definitely not an animal.

"At the time I thought it must have been students out in the road as it was the end of term. But it was a bit early for that."

Press Association

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