A miscarriage of justice

On 28th October 2011, at Bristol Crown Court, Dr. Vincent Tabak was found guilty of murdering landscape architect Joanna Yeates on 17th December 2010 and sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum tariff of 20 years. The evidence proving that he was made the scapegoat in a cruel and deliberate miscarriage of justice to protect the real killer is summarized point-by-point in “Guilty until proven Innocent”. The British and international news media and even the Leveson Inquiry have been muzzled to prevent them from exposing this evil scandal.

Their cat Bernard - and COMMENTS on this case

“He went into places he shouldn’t go – a bit like me

- Attributed in court, 20th October 2011, by Vincent Tabak,
to Joanna Yeates

Joanna Yeates
Joanna Yeates and Greg Reardon acquired Bernard as a very young kitten towards the end of 2009.

Joanna Yeates’s best friend Rebecca Scott told the jury: “I was just happy for her. When she said she was getting a new cat, I knew it was the real deal with her and Greg. They were in it for the long term.”

Geoffrey Hardyman, who lives in the top floor flat of 44 Canynge Road, Clifton, had met Miss Yeates and her boyfriend Greg Reardon briefly. “I actually only met Greg and Joanna on three occasions while I was working in the garden,” he said. “I have had a friendly conversation with Joanna about her cat, who I liked to see in the garden. I would describe them both as nice and friendly and I was impressed with them.”

Bernard the cat once got into the flat that Vincent Tabak shared with his girlfriend. Cross-examined by Counsel for the Prosecution Nigel Lickley QC, Greg Reardon told the court that he had spoken to Tanja Morson when retrieving the cat, but had never encountered her boyfriend nor realized that he was foreign.

On 20th December 2010, Glen O’Hare, a lecturer friend of Tanja Morson’s, hosted a dinner that she attended with her boyfriend. Vincent Tabak had seemed worried, tired and slightly miserable, and had remarked that he had not seen Miss Yeates’s cat on the weekend she went missing.

The evidence that was submitted in support of the murder charge was of two kinds – forensic, and computer. The forensic evidence consisted of alleged traces of DNA on the body and in the boot of the car used by Vincent Tabak.  However, the forensic scientist who examined the boot of the car has never been named, nor did he or she testify in person. The use of DNA in criminal investigations to establish a link between persons who previously have not been known to be connected with each other is very well known by the general public, and is often an invaluable lead, provided the inquiry subsequently turns up other evidence to support the connection. However, in the case of Miss Yeates and Vincent Tabak, the connection was already known – they lived in the same house! So the use of this DNA evidence was in fact a confidence trick from the moment Vincent Tabak was charged. Furthermore, the microscopic samples of DNA that were found on the body are what some scientists call low copy number DNA. This means that the samples of material for analysis are so microscopic that they get destroyed in the course of the “enhancement analysis process used to amplify the data. This means that the defence cannot submit them to an independent laboratory for analysis and therefore they are not valid as evidence in a court of law.

Had Vincent Tabak’s defence counsel refused to go along with the faked manslaughter plea in Court, Mr. Clegg would have demolished the DNA-related evidence easily. It is a characteristic of car boots that they get left open while people are removing shopping from them or loading luggage into them. Joanna Yeates’s cat Bernard could easily have hopped into the open boot of the Megane while it was momentarily unattended at any time in the common car park at 44 Canynge Road, and Miss Yeates could have leaned in to the boot to retrieve her cat, shedding tiny drops of sweat, hairs or other microscopic items carrying her DNA in the process. Whenever she played with her cat, its claws would have scratched the tender skin on her hands and forearms, and picked up minute particles of her skin and smears of her blood, which would subsequently become distributed about its territory and picked up by luggage placed on the ground beside parked cars.

Joanna Yeates’s boyfriend testified in court on 17th October 2011 that the cat had once got into the flat where Vincent Tabak lived with his girlfriend, and that she had asked Joanna Yeates’s boyfriend to remove it. This episode was also mentioned by Counsel for the Prosecution Nigel Lickley QC in his opening speech on 10th October 2011. It could just as easily have deposited Joanna's DNA in the flat after she had been playing with it. The cat could easily have picked up a tiny fragment of food with Vincent Tabak’s DNA on it on this occasion, or after sniffing round the shared dustbins outside the house, and then on being admitted to Joanna Yeates’s flat could have hopped into her laundry basket, depositing Vincent Tabak’s DNA on the inside of her clean bra and the leg of her clean jeans.

A forensic scientist claimed that incriminating blood
stains and DNA were found in the luggage
 compartment of the Renault Megane registered
to Tanja Morson and used by Vincent Tabak
The samples of material allegedly found in the boot of the Renault Megane used by Vincent Tabak were so small that special techniques had to be used to analyze them. Such small samples are generally much more vulnerable to contamination from their surroundings than e.g. semen in rape cases. Special training is needed to analyze them. Furthermore, in the case of Joanna Yeates and Vincent Tabak, the opportunities for cross-contamination were enormous. There was a splash of her blood on the wall near the place where her body was alleged to have been dumped, but no comparable splashes in the boot of the car, so, for the benefit of the court, the prosecution and the defence counsels agreed on a “cycle bag” that the Dutchman must be presumed to have used to transport the body without leaking blood.

Cross-examining forensic scientist Lindsey Lennen, defence lawyer William Clegg QC asked if there was DNA of any unidentified persons found in the luggage compartment of the Renault Megane. Ms Lennen replied: “No there was not.” Why did Mr. Clegg phrase his question in this way? Why did he not simply ask the witness whether DNA was found of any other persons in the luggage compartment of the car? Was it not because the scientist had also found traces there of the other persons who lived at the same address: Tanja Morson, Vincent Tabak, Greg Reardon, Christopher Jefferies, and Geoffrey Hardyman?

According to the BBC (20th December 2007): Dr. Dan Krane (Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Wright State University, Ohio, USA), giving expert scientific evidence about DNA testing for the defence at the trial of an alleged terrorist in Northern Ireland in 2007, stated: “Low Copy Number [LCN] tests are much more prone to flexible interpretation, than with the conventional tests. Because of its great sensitivity, there are much greater concerns about the persistence of DNA and its ability to be transferred from one article to another. It's just too easy for contamination to occur, or for DNA to have become associated with an article through very innocent, very old contact.” The defence's continual questioning of the method was aided by a test result from a failed bomb explosion in Lisburn, in April 1998, that the same defendant was also charged with. When the defused device was analysed using the technique, the strongest initial DNA profile was found to be that of a teenage boy from Nottinghamshire. In an attempt to bolster their case, the prosecution called Peter Gill, one of the inventors of the LCN technique. But under cross examination he said some of the results put forward by the prosecution were “valueless”, and that LCN was a complex area in which there were “shades of grey”.

Giving evidence in court at Vincent Tabak’s trial, Greg Reardon told the jury that, after his return at 8.00 p.m. on 19th December 2010 from Sheffield to 44 Canynge Road, the cat seemed very pleased to see him, but was quite desperate to go outside. “When I was settling down to have some food, he was being particularly affectionate. He seemed particularly hungry. When I went back to the car and came in again, I noticed the litter tray was full. I realised the faeces in the litter tray was very old. It was dried out on the top.”

On the first day of his testimony in court on 20th October 2011, Vincent Tabak recounted the conversation he alleged he had had with Joanna Yeates just before her death. This included an ambiguous remark about Bernard: “We talked about the cat – her cat that had come into our flat once. She made some flirty comment that the cat ‘went into places he shouldn’t go – a bit like me’.”

It was Joanna’s parents who took over her cat. If Greg Reardon and Bernard really had any affection for each other, the two would certainly have stayed together after Joanna’s death. That they didn’t indicates that her boyfriend had no real desire to be reminded fondly of her.

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