Tuesday 28 March 2017

Landlord arrested in Yeates murder inquiry

Chris Jefferies told police he saw Joanna Yeates with two people on night she disappeared
Chris Jefferies told police he saw Joanna Yeates with two people on night she disappeared

Martin Evans, Caroline Gammell and Richard Savill

THE main suspect in the murder of Joanna Yeates helped her boyfriend fix his car for a weekend trip away only hours before the landscape architect vanished.

Neighbours told how Christopher Jefferies (65), the couple's landlord, found jump leads for Greg Reardon to restart his flat battery so he could drive to Sheffield on December 17.

Ms Yeates (25) vanished later that evening and her snow-covered body was found on Christmas Day. She had been strangled.

Mr Jefferies, a former English teacher who was arrested on suspicion of murder yesterday, was described by pupils at Clifton College, where he worked for 30 years, as an eccentric who dyed his hair blue. He apparently showed them dark and violent avant garde films.

Mr Jefferies was arrested at 7am yesterday in Canynge Road in the Clifton area of Bristol where he lived in a flat above Ms Yeates and Mr Reardon.

Mr Jefferies first came to the attention of the police when he claimed that he had seen Ms Yeates leave her flat with two people on the night she disappeared.

He discussed what he had allegedly seen with several of his neighbours at length and his claims, if true, made him the last person to see her alive.

Yesterday, however, he was the only suspect in the case.

One of his neighbours, who asked not to be identified, said: "Chris knew that Greg was going to be away for the weekend, because he helped him start his car."

The police focus remained on Mr Jefferies yesterday as forensic experts took away his two cars -- a grey Volvo S40 and a silver Chrysler Neon -- for analysis.

They searched his flat, removing bags of evidence and, it was believed, his computer.

They also continued examining the blue front door of the flat into which Ms Yeates and Mr Reardon had moved in October.

Alarm

Yesterday, it emerged that Ms Yeates had lunch with Mr Reardon on the day she vanished. He drove up to Sheffield early that evening to visit his half-brother for the weekend, while she planned on staying at their flat, preparing for their Christmas party the following week.

Mr Reardon raised the alarm when he came home on December 19 and realised that his girlfriend was missing.

Her keys, purse, mobile phone and coat were all still in the flat.

Ms Yeates was found eight days later on a country lane three miles from their home.

It was understood that she had been throttled but no ligature was used.

Neighbours expressed their shock at the arrest of Mr Jefferies. Oliver Cullen once owned two flats in the same building and had known the bachelor for many years.

"I don't believe for one minute that Chris has done this," he said. "He would not be physically capable for one thing. He only weighs about 11 stones.

"He is a nice man. A bit vocal perhaps and certainly rather eccentric, but he was just an old schoolteacher really." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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