Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
– St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Chapter 13, Verse 2
The torture is explained at the end of this post
|Bristol Prison, Horfield|
|Tabak family spokesman Paul Vermeij|
|He spent a night of|
terror before facing
Judge Colman Treacy
- Intimidation by the threat or actual use of various forms of torture
- Trickery – the obtaining of a false confession, false plea and disparate leniency in a totally unrelated trial in another part of the country
- Blackmail – the offer of a reduced sentence (four years less remission down from twenty years plus) in return for an early confession
|His global employer Buro Happold at Bath|
- by virtue of his Ph.D – the equivalent of carrying your life-savings on your person – which provided an added incentive for him to agree to anything that would get him out of prison as soon as possible.
- by virtue of being a foreigner, so he had no family in the UK to fight for him.
- by virtue of his naivety and inexperience of crime.
- because his global employer Buro Happold could not afford to have its reputation sullied by the news that it had head-hunted an architectural consultant charged with strangling an architect.
- his legal team was chosen for him by the police and the prosecution.
- the “Stockholm syndrome”, which compelled him to form a close attachment to his captors and his compromised legal team.
- his loneliness and isolation, as distance meant that his family could visit him only occasionally.
|Prison chaplain Peter Brotherton|
|Solicitor Ian Kelcey|
|His girlfriend Tanja Morson|
Did the police and the CPS threaten to prosecute Tanja Morson for complicity, but offer to let her off the hook if Vincent agreed to stand trial on the basis of the faked manslaughter plea? The “sobbing girl” ruse and the declaration he had made after his arrest that he had been the sole user of his laptop computer suggest that they did. It was Tanja Morson who had actually made the fatal phone call from Holland that automatically became an attempt to incriminate their landlord, once Vincent Tabak stood trial for killing Joanna. It added two years to his sentence. How much time might Tanja have had to serve in prison if she were sentenced as an accomplice? The stance taken by the defence in all other respects suggests that they knew that her testimony would favour the defendant’s case if she were to be called as a witness. Her failure to be called as a witness may, therefore, have been part of the price that Vincent had to pay in return for her not being prosecuted for complicity. Was he honour bound to sacrifice himself to protect his girlfriend?
|The massive forensics examination of Joanna Yeates’s|
flat and front door
Mr Kelcey must have pointed out that it would be disastrous for Vincent Tabak to stand trial on the basis of his innocence, as he would be handing the case to the prosecution on a plate. If he accepted manslaughter, on the other hand, he could look forward to a short sentence with the prospect of remission for good behaviour. Mr. Kelcey evidently had reasons of his own for not challenging the weak case against his client. A lonely, abandoned Vincent Tabak took the fatal decision to follow his solicitor’s urging – even though he knew it was not he who had killed his neighbour.
Meanwhile, in Manchester Crown court, a certain Daniel Lancaster was about to be tried for – unnoticed by the national media – having brutally murdered his girlfriend in Yorkshire, Anna Banks, by strangling her, a few days after a similar fate befell Joanna Yeates. Did someone in Bristol make a request to the prosecution in Manchester for leniency for the worthless young junkie? The result of his trial was that on 11nd August 2011 he was to receive a sentence of only four years for manslaughter, with a chance of remission for good behaviour. Presented by his solicitor with the news of this verdict on 22nd September 2011, a very reluctant Vincent Tabak was tricked into signing a statement that (just like the phoney DNA evidence against him) had been “enhanced” so much that it bore little resemblance to the truth. In it, he admitted that he unintentionally strangled Joanna Yeates by holding her neck for 20 seconds to stop her screaming. It described in detail the sequence of events that were supposed to have surrounded her death.
After he was sentenced to life in prison, to the great distress of his family in the Netherlands, and especially his 70-year-old widowed mother, The Sun’s correspondent in Arnhem, Stephen Moyes, reported an unidentified family friend as saying that Vincent Tabak hoped he would be able to transfer to a prison in the Netherlands, adding that he was terrified of being beaten up in an English prison. They knew that a condition for his ever being transferred was that they keep silent about his innocence. The prospect of a transfer to a prison in the Netherlands is one of the carrots that could have been used to persuade him to plead guilty, after his encounter with the chaplain proved to him that he had fallen into the power of authorities who did not believe in playing the game according to the rules.
|Tanja Morson thanked|
the judge, Mr Justice
Field, and the lawyers for
their on-going attention
|Joanna Yeates’s parents|
|Children being abused|
The tortureThe forms of torture to which we know Vincent Tabak was subjected are: identity deprivation, isolation, the punishment of his girlfriend and his family, involuntary celibacy, and the threat of violence. In addition, he was probably exposed to “loud music” and he may have been subject to false memory syndrome. He was possibly subjected to the threat of sexual assault from other inmates. A prisoner who is subject to or threatened with torture cannot tell the outside world (or even his family) about it, for fear of further deprivation and/or torture. He is told: “Make sure that you say you were treated properly”. Paul Vermeij, the spokesman for Vincent Tabak’s family, told The Mirror (27th January 2011) that he said that the prison staff were treating him well.
The constraints of imprisonment for a serious crime is not just a physical form of torture – in a matter of days and weeks it deprives you of your familiar identity, and turns your personality permanently into something hard and unsympathetic that will scarcely be usable in the world outside. In prison, you can trust nobody – not your fellow prisoners, not the doctor or nurse who humiliates you with an intimate medical examination, not the guards, not the chaplain, not your lawyer, not even your own family or your girlfriend. Nor does any of them trust you.
When he did open his mouth, Vincent Tabak Ph.D had been accustomed to being listened to by colleagues, clients, friends and family members who valued what he had to say. Suddenly, without warning on 20th January 2011, he had entered a weird, upside-down world where nobody believed anything he told them. His communications were compromised, and for the first week or so he was probably not allowed access to TV or the internet, until the media interest in him had died down.
Without any of them having done anything to deserve it – quite the contrary – Vincent Tabak has had to live every day with the awful knowledge that his girlfriend and his family are also being severely punished by the society they live in for another person’s crime. Tanja Morson cannot turn for comfort to anyone who believes that she was once planning to marry a murderer. She has been urged, in her own interest, to relinquish any letters and presents she received from Vincent. Each member of the close-knit Tabak family in the Netherlands, young or old, is contaminated by the horrible suspicion of everyone with whom they have dealings that he or she might suddenly – and without warning – go into strangulation mode.
Nigel Lickley QC
|Journalist Jonathan Corke|
Most prisoners get bored in prison, and their reaction to this is to play pop music if they have the means to do so. It is not easy to concentrate on reading while being assaulted by loud background music that does not accord with one’s own tastes.
|Journalist Steven Morris|
According to journalist Steven Morris, The Guardian, 28th October 2011: “Tabak was on suicide watch on Friday, and his ordeal in jail is likely to be made worse by revelations of his interest in hardcore pornography, some of which featured strangulation and bondage.” In the light of this candid admission, The Guardian, by publishing these unsubstantiated and dubious revelations, was knowingly guilty of criminal incitement to violence and making itself an accessory to torture.