Murder suspect 'let himself into tenants' flat'
Published 31/12/2010 | 12:53
The main suspect in the murder of Joanna Yeates used to enter his flats unannounced, two ex-tenants have claimed.
Landlord Christopher Jefferies, 65, also refused to let them put up net curtains to protect their privacy, the couple alleged.
Police questioning Mr Jefferies on suspicion of murder were today granted an extension until 6pm this evening, when they have the option of applying for more time. He was arrested on Thursday.
The former tenants, who asked not to be named, rented one of the flats owned by Mr Jefferies in the Victorian mansion block where Miss Yeates lived, six years ago.
They claimed that he refused to let them fit a chain lock to their door after he allegedly let himself into their flat uninvited on several occasions.
The male tenant, 39, told the Daily Mirror: "On several occasions he even entered our flat unannounced. It was intrusive.
“He has a set of keys for all of the flats he lets out. I had a word with him and told him to only come in if it was pre-arranged."
He added: “He didn’t allow any of the tenants to have blinds or net curtains up. We asked for them and he refused. I seem to remember it was in the tenancy agreement that we could not have them."
Miss Yeates had rented a basement flat from Mr Jefferies, who lives in a flat above, with her boyfriend Greg Reardon, 27, since October.
It emerged yesterday that Mr Jefferies helped Mr Reardon fix his car for a weekend trip away only hours before the architect vanished.
Neighbours told how he found jump leads to help him restart his flat battery so he could drive to Sheffield on December 17.
Miss Yeates vanished later that evening and her snow covered body was found on Christmas Day. She had been strangled.
Mr Jefferies has been described by pupils at Clifton College where he worked for 30 years as a fan of dark and violent avant garde films.
He was arrested at 7am at his home on the Canynge Road in the Clifton area of Bristol.
Mr Jefferies, a prominent Liberal Democrat supporter, first came to the attention of the police when he claimed he had seen Miss 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.
However, he is currently 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.
“On the Friday that Joanna went missing, Greg’s car would not start and so he asked Chris for some help.
“Chris went next door and asked his neighbour Peter Stanley for some jump leads. Peter has an American jeep and is rather mechanical minded. They managed to get the car started and off Greg went.”
Mr Stanley, who lives next door to Mr Jefferies, said: “I have spoken to the police about what happened and I would rather not say anymore at this stage.”
The police focus remained on Mr Jefferies on Thursday as forensic experts took his two cars – a grey Volvo S40 and a silver Chrysler Neon – for analysis.
They trawled through the contents of his flats, removing large bags of evidence believed to include his computer.
They also continued examining the blue front door of the flat which Miss Yeates and Mr Reardon had only moved into last October.
Miss Yeates' parents welcomed news of an arrest.
David Yeates, who works in IT, said: “At the end of the day, obviously I'm not happy because my daughter is still dead.
“But we are pleased the police have made an arrest as they have been working very hard to make progress in this case.
“During the investigation police have not told us everything they have discovered but we understand there are certain things they cannot reveal.
“At this time our focus is still with Jo.”
His wife Theresa added: “We are very pleased there has been an arrest.”
Miss Yeates had had lunch with Mr Reardon on the day she vanished.
They had met at the Hope and Anchor, a mile from their home
He drove up to Sheffield early that evening to visit his half-brother Francis for the weekend, while she planned on staying at their flat, preparing for their Christmas party the following week.
However, Mr Reardon quickly realised his girlfriend was missing when he came home on December 19 and raised the alarm.
Her keys, purse, mobile phone and coat were all still in the flat.
Miss Yeates was found eight days later on a country lane near Failand, North Somerset, three miles from their home.
It is understood she was throttled to death but no ligature was used.
A £10,000 reward has been offered for information which may lead to the conviction of her killer.
Neighbours expressed their shock at his arrest. Oliver Cullen used to own two flats in the same building and has 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 would not have the strength to do something like that.
“He is a nice man. A bit vocal perhaps and certainly rather eccentric, but he was just an old-school teacher really.”