“Your Lordship is aware to the concern the Crown have and the nature of any further investigation... I have concern about what I can say.”
– Nigel Lickley QC, cryptically, about 27th October 2011
|Nigel Lickley QC|
|Adam Wolanski (photo: 5RB)|
On 1st November 2011, the news media reported an anonymous Bristol police source as saying that 30 illegal “Group 4” child abuse porn images had been found on Vincent Tabak’s computer, but that no further proceedings were likely. This must be what Mr. Lickley had been cryptically referring to while the jury was still out.
The timing of this revelation seemed mysterious. Surely they had not only just been found? Avon & Somerset Constabulary had had his computers and hard discs for nine months and had long ago scrutinized them for anything they could possibly use against Vincent Tabak. Why had they not added the charge of possessing these illegal images to the charge of murder way back in January 2011? Why did the IT-expert who testified at his murder trial, Lindsey Farmery, not tell the jury about this evidence of his bad character?
|Long Lartin prison|
After Vincent Tabak was sentenced, a police spokesman had read out a statement on behalf of the Yeates family, containing the following text: “The best we can hope for him is that he spends the rest of his life incarcerated, where his life is a living hell, being the recipient of all the evils, deprivations and degradations that his situation can provide.” Was the purpose of the police’s unsubstantiated allegation about child porn directed at the inmates of the prison where Vincent Tabak would be serving his sentence? Was the media acting as a pseudo-judicial agency to instigate those inmates to carry out the Yeates family’s wishes?
(still frame from
On 11th February 2012, the Bristol Evening Post published for the first time the name of the official responsible for this vicious piece of propaganda – Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Director of Corporate Communications, Amanda Hirst. She confirmed that the investigation team was “planning to interview Tabak further”, but would not say when or where that would take place. From her office in Bristol she had been able to torture the hapless Vincent Tabak in his far-off prison just by her deceitful manipulation of the media.
Besides punishing the prisoner, the illegal child abuse images seem to have been invented by the prosecution so as to prevent further discussion in the media of the case against Vincent Tabak on the basis that certain matters continue to be sub judice. Before his Facebook profile was removed from the internet, it had included photos of his seven young nieces and nephews. It seems likely that the police’s computer analyst, who was told that this computer belonged to a serious criminal, did not look closely enough at the pictures of children on his computer to ascertain whether they were innocent legal photos of Vincent Tabak’s seven young nieces and nephews on the beach, but simply wrote “child porn” on the evidence label.
|Buro Happold headquarters, Bath|
Although this was not reported at the time, detectives did interview Vincent Tabak in prison in March 2012, according to prosecuting barrister David Bartlett (The Guardian, 2 March 2015). He refused to answer any of the police’s questions. “He said there had been such serious leakages in information that he couldn’t have a fair trial and he couldn’t trust the security and integrity of information that he gave to the police”, reported Mr. Barlett.
On 17th November 2013 The Mirror published a totally unattributed story by Lewis Panther headed “Jo Yeates killer in child porn probe - more than two years after images were found”. It continued: But police only started considering if they had enough evidence against him two weeks ago, the Crown Prosecution Service has admitted. A CPS spokesman said yesterday: “We are expecting to have a decision on Monday as to whether Vincent Tabak will be charged with possessing child pornography.” She admitted: “It has taken a long time. The inquiry had been put on a backburner, not because it wasn’t important but it was rated a low priority with the defendant already being in prison. Police and the CPS have been busy working on other on going cases which they have been trying to get to court. A team was finally assigned to the investigation within the past few weeks and we understand they have come to a decision.”
The next day, according to The Bristol Post (18th November 2013), Avon and Somerset Police issued a statement, which said: “Contrary to reports in the national press at the weekend, a final decision has not yet been made on whether Vincent Tabak will face any additional charges relating to material found on his computer during the investigation into the murder of Joanna Yeates. It has been wrongly reported that the police investigation on this matter only started two weeks ago. We have been working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service on this area of the case ever since Vincent Tabak was convicted of murder in October 2011 and we will continue with this joint approach to ensure a decision is reached as soon as possible.”
|Barry Hughes, CPS|
|Ch Supt Julian Moss|
The Mirror’s Nathalie Evans duly reported these developments.
Vincent Tabak appeared by video-link from HM Prison Wakefield before Craig Pocock, chairman of Bristol Magistrates Bench, on 15th January 2014. The Bristol Post’s Geoff Bennett reported the hearing under the astonishing headline, “Bristol man Vincent Tabak in court accused of possessing indecent images of young girls”. So Bath, Eindhoven and Uden were finally absolved of any liability for the death of Joanna Yeates.
The defendant was charged by prosecutor Vera Kudlac with making and possessing nearly 200 indecent images, showing a naked female child together with a male, on his Dell laptop computer between 2009 and 2011. He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth. Although he was not asked for his plea, his lawyer Nick Kelcey indicated that he would be pleading Not Guilty when he came to appear at the Crown Court.
According to a correspondent who was in the public gallery, the prisoner was seen to be wearing a black fleece. He sat at a table with a large notebook and pen. Prison officers could be seen in the background, but it was hard to tell if they were male or female. They spoke to one another from times to time. Vincent Tabak was in regular contact with the officers. He spent his time during the hearing fiddling with his little folder and pen, which he never used. He had his habit of rubbing his hands together, and also looking down to his waist. As one might expect, he had lost weight, was looking thinner, bolder, and fit, but not fat.
The Mirror’s Steve Robson reported that the defendant “faces a total of six charges – four of possessing indecent photographs/pseudo-photographs of a child and two of making indecent photographs/pseudo-photographs of a child at levels one, two, three and four... The making indecent photograph charges relate to 46 level-one images allegedly found on two external hard drives in Bath and Bristol on April 23 and July 29 2009 respectively... He wore a dark-coloured zip-up fleece top and glasses and was clean-shaven with a receding hairline... Chairman of the bench Craig Pocock told Tabak he case was being sent to Bristol Crown Court on February 6, adding: ‘In the meantime, for these offences you are granted technical unconditional bail.’”
On 23rd April 2014 Vincent Tabak appeared by video-link before the Recorder of Bristol, Judge Neil Ford, at a “plea and case management” hearing at Bristol Crown Court. The prisoner faced two charges of making indecent images of children and four offences of possession of indecent images, which The Guardian and the BBC clarified as “photographs/pseudo-photographs”. He is alleged to have possessed images between 1st January 2009 and 5th January 2011, which were found on his Dell laptop. He is also alleged to have made 23 images on 23rd April 2009, and 23 images on 29 July 2009. The BBC reported that “The court was previously told the photographs included level three and four images.” He took notes as the court agreed on a date for trial, 8th September 2014. He did not enter a plea and the case was adjourned after some legal argument.
On 26th August 2014 Vincent Tabak appeared by video-link from Wakefield Prison before Judge Ford for a pre-trial hearing, which lasted ten minutes. He entered no plea. Each of the images that he stands charged with making and with possessing are now, unaccountably, relegated “level one”, which is the least serious level for this offence.
Astonishingly, none of the reports in the news media mentioned that the defendant in this case is currently serving a 20 year sentence for murder. On 5th September 2014 an unattributed source told The Bristol Post that the trial is being postponed for “further expert input”.
Finally, on 2 March 2014, a person dressed in a black suit, white shirt and blue tie, whom the news media reported was Vincent Tabak, appeared before Judge Neil Ford in Bristol Crown Court to stand trial on four charges of possessing 145 indecent child images. He was accompanied by five security officers in the dock. The Bristol Post asserted that his hair had become noticeably greyer since he was last seen in public. None of the press reported the presence in court of any member of the defendant’s family, friends nor former colleagues, who would have known him sufficiently well to have reacted if the person in the dock had not been Vincent Tabak.
|Prosecutor David Bartlett, 3PB Barristers Chambers|
Once the judge had rejected Mr. Armstrong’s application to stop the trial, the defendant entered guilty pleas to the four charges.
Judge Ford heard the case without a jury. He explained to the Court that any jury trying Vincent Tabak on the charges for possession of illegal child images would also have to be informed of his conviction for murdering Joanna Yeates. “It is an extreme example of a case where prejudice is alleged because Mr Tabak has been convicted of murder in what I would describe as a high-profile murder,” the judge said. “The allegations which the prosecution bring in relation in this case are relatively minor in comparison to that which Mr Tabak has already been convicted of.”
Mr. Bartlett called no witnesses, nor did he tell the Court whether the children in the alleged indecent images had been identified and contacted, nor how the defendant had acquired the images. Without the testimony under oath of a witness to confirm that the images actually had resided on the defendant’s computer, and without the inspection of the images by a jury to confirm that the images actually existed and were as indecent as the Prosecutor claimed, the trial was stripped of any legitimacy it might have had.
The judge ordered the prisoner to be placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years, and banned him from working with children or young people. Vincent Tabak was sentenced to ten months in prison concurrently for the child images, without any change to the release date set by his prior murder sentence.