Saturday 17 February 2018

The moment killer confessed to Joanna Yeates death recounted in court

Rod Minchin, Emma Hallett and Tom Morgan

JOANNA Yeates's killer admitted his crime to a prison chaplain but was angry when told his confession would be passed on, a court heard today.

Salvation Army member Peter Brotherton told the jury he shook hands with Vincent Tabak before the defendant told him: "I have got something to tell you that is going to shock you."

Tabak, who had been under 24-hour supervision at HMP Long Lartin, was said to have told Mr Brotherton of his plan to plead guilty on February 8 - three weeks after his arrest.

Appearing in the witness box at Bristol Crown Court, Mr Brotherton said he decided he could not keep the information secret because Tabak was not religious.

Mr Brotherton, who has been visiting prisoners since 1975, said "there was a little bit of anger" in Tabak's voice after the chaplain said he would have to pass on the information.

"I'm not going to tell you anything else," Tabak was said to have told Mr Brotherton.

Tabak was being held in a cell with a clear glass door in the health unit of the hospital when he made the appointment with Mr Brotherton.

Tabak, who admits manslaughter but denies murder, was said to have made the confession on their third encounter.

"He went to his cell to get his mug so he could have his water," Mr Brotherton said.

"I shook hands with him and said 'How are you?'. He said 'So so'."

When Tabak told him he had something that was going to "shock you", Mr Brotherton was said to have replied: "You tell me and we will see."

After Tabak said "I am going to change my plea", Mr Brotherton asked him: "Are you sorry what you have done?"

Tabak was said to have replied: "Yes."

During cross-examination, Tabak's QC William Clegg claimed Mr Brotherton's comments differed from a statement he gave on February 16.

Mr Clegg said: "Let me suggest to you there was no suggestion of 'changing my plea'. 'I am going to plead guilty' - that's what he said.

"You said 'What for?'. And he said 'For the crime I have done'."

When the barrister suggested some of his evidence today was wrong, Mr Brotherton replied: "If that's what you say, I would agree with you."

Miss Yeates's mother Teresa wept earlier as a picture of her daughter's body was shown to the jury.

She looked away and was comforted by her husband David as the harrowing photograph was shown.

The mortuary image showed the 25-year-old landscape architect lying fully clothed in the foetal position with her pink top pushed up, exposing her bra.

As Mr Yeates supported his wife, he looked over his shoulder from the public gallery towards Tabak, 33, in the dock.

The Dutch engineer kept his head bowed and placed his hands on the top of his head.

The image was shown during the evidence of forensic scientist Tanya Nickson, who examined bloodstains found on a wall next to where Miss Yeates was found on Christmas morning on Longwood Lane, in Failand, North Somerset.

She said the blood pattern indicated smearing rather than splattering - meaning it was unlikely that Miss Yeates had been assaulted on Longwood Lane.

Ms Nickson told the jury: "The presence of the blood on the top of the wall may indicate that an attempt was made to deposit the body over the top of the wall."

Earlier, the court heard from forensic scientist Lindsay Lennen who examined DNA samples taken from Miss Yeates's body, her clothes and from the boot of Tabak's Renault Megane car.

Tests showed that both Miss Yeates's and Tabak's DNA were recovered from her body and that it was statistically one million times more likely it was their DNA than others.

Tabak's and another unidentified person's DNA was also found on Miss Yeates's jeans - behind her knees - which would have been consistent with Tabak carrying her body, the court was told.

Ms Lennen said the statistical interpretation of the results from Miss Yeates's jeans showed that it was 1,100 times more likely that the DNA was from Vincent Tabak and another person, rather than two unknown people unrelated to the defendant.

The analysis of DNA recovered from the boot of Tabak's car showed a match to Miss Yeates and there was less than one in one billion chance that it was not her blood.

Under cross-examination, Ms Lennen accepted the proposition from William Clegg QC, defending, that the DNA of Tabak could have been transferred to her body - and in particular her breasts - when he attempted to lift her body over the wall on Longwood Lane.

Ms Lennen also accepted the proposition from Mr Clegg that it was possible Tabak's DNA had transferred to Miss Yeates when he placed her body inside his bicycle bag and put that in the boot of his car.

"If the cycle bag was used to transfer the body from Canynge Road to Longwood Lane and that cycle bag, having been previously used to store the bicycle of Mr Tabak, then it may well be that the cycle bag itself would contain DNA from him, which in turn can be transferred to Miss Yeates if she was put in that bag," Mr Clegg asked the witness.

Ms Lennen replied: "Yes, that's possible."

Jurors also heard evidence from Detective Constable Geoffrey Colvin, who had arrested Tabak at 5.55am on January 20, at a flat in Aberdeen Road, Cotham, Bristol, where he had been staying.

He described Tabak's demeanour after he had cautioned him.

"He appeared to be quite shaky after I said the words and a little bit shaken," Det Con Colvin said.

The officer added that Tabak said nothing in response to the caution.

Miss Yeates is said to have suffered 43 injuries at the hands of Tabak on December 17 last year.

Her body was found "in a foetal-type position" in Longwood Lane, Failand, North Somerset, by a couple walking their dogs.

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News