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.

The Counsel for the Defence

Crossman Solicitors of Radstock and Albion Chambers

When Vincent Tabak was arrested by police on 20th January 2011, his duty solicitor from Crossman & Co of Radstock would seem to have acted correctly and supplied her client with very convincing arguments for his innocence. She may even have protested strongly to one of the detectives who questioned him, DC Paul Derrick, about the confiscation of the prisoner’s glasses, without which he could not see properly who was speaking to him, but if she did, it was in vain.

Furthermore, the solicitor also advised Vincent Tabak to answer “No comment” to most of the questions that would be put to him. The court subsequently drew negative inferences from the fact that he had exercised his legal right not to answer these questions. The leader of the police investigation DCI Phil Jones repeatedly referred to this fact after Vincent Tabak had been convicted, in order to make the public believe that the latter knew much more about Joanna Yeates’s death than he had told anyone.

After Vincent Tabak had been arrested, he was subjected to a medical examination at Trinity Road police station by duty nurse Ruth Booth-Pearson, who also took a swab of his saliva to establish his DNA profile. He was then questioned in the presence of the duty solicitor by Detective Constable Richard Barnston, who told him that his earlier statement showed that he had no alibi for the evening in question, and that the ground for his arrest was an anonymous tip-off that the police had recently received from a “sobbing girl”.

The picture of Joanna Yeates
that was shown prominently in
the press after she was first
reported missing
DC Barnston then questioned him about his relationship to Joanna Yeates and his movements on the day of her disappearance. As he answered “No comment” to most of these questions, the solicitor helped Vincent Tabak prepare a statement for the police, which he signed, and in which he claimed that he did not know Joanna Yeates and that he had never spoken to her or her boyfriend. They had been neighbours for a total of only seventeen days. “Until her picture was shown prominently in the press I would not have recognised her,” he told police.

During the 48 hours of the interrogation, a succession of questionable allegations by unnamed sources, such as unidentified neighbours, colleagues or police, were reported in selected national newspapers. These reports showed every sign of having been leaked by Amanda Hirst’s department with the main objective of manipulating Crossman & Co.

The police probably started the second day of the interrogation by announcing that a partial match had been found between Vincent Tabak’s DNA and fluid samples taken from Joanna’s body. He continued to answer “No comment” to the questions thay asked him about the physical contact they claimed he had had with her. The duty solicitor would assume, wrongly, that this match had been made using the saliva swab taken from her client’s mouth only the day before. That was what the police wanted her to think. Her client was probably still too “shaky”, “shocked” and “upset” to disillusion her and recollect that he had given police a swab three weeks earlier in Schiphol.

In a second statement that the solicitor prepared for him to sign in response to these questions, he said he had “no knowledge” of how his DNA allegedly came to be found on Joanna Yeates’s body and clothing and disputed that it was his DNA. In this statement, he then claimed evidence may have been leaked to the press from the laboratory for “financial gain”. Did this refer to the unattributed report in The Daily Mail on 3rd January 2011? Had Crossman’s solicitor and her client put their finger on the key to why he had been chosen as a scapegoat?

It was probably at this stage during the second day’s questioning that the police applied to a magistrate to hold Vincent Tabak for a further 36 hours, and showed his solicitor and her client a video clip that they claimed had been captured from a CCTV camera on Clifton Suspension Bridge, showing a car that they claimed had been driven by Vincent Tabak during the night in question. On the solicitor’s advice, he answered “No comment” to a succession of questions about his alleged use of this car to transport Joanna’s body to Longwood Lane.

Vincent Tabak probably answered “No comment” to questions that detectives asked him after his works computer and a laptop computer that he had shared with his girlfriend Tanja Morson had been impounded by the police and allegedly scrutinised by their IT expert. These questions probably related to evidence that police would claim had been found that the user of the laptop had made intensive internet researches relating to Joanna’s disappearance and death and to the arrest of their landlord, and had also viewed violent adult pornography. The police probably sought to implicate  Tanja Morson by asking how far she had participated in, and been aware of, these uses of the laptop. The duty solicitor responded by preparing a statement that Vincent Tabak signed, declaring that, after the disappearance of Joanna Yeates, he alone had used this laptop.

It was probably not until the solicitor arrived at the police station on the following morning that the police announced to her client and her that forensic analysis of the floor of the boot of this car had now revealed minute traces of Joanna’s blood. On this basis, he was charged at 9.30 a.m. with having murdered Joanna Yeates.

Paul Cook of Albion Chambers
told the Magistrate that Vincent
Tabak would apply for bail – but
reversed this decision the next
day. What pressure did Ann
Reddrop put on him?
When he was brought before the Magistrate on 24th January 2011, Vincent Tabak’s first defence barrister was Paul Cook of Albion Chambers (instructed by Crossman Solicitors). Paul Cook is a specialist in inquests and criminal law undertaking prosecution and defence work and is a CPS panel advocate level 3 prosecutor. Did the CPS influence the choice of one of their own prosecutors to defend Vincent Tabak?

Paul Cook is actively involved in the Western Circuit Advocacy Programme and is approved on that programme as an advocacy trainer for Circuit pupils. In 2005 he became the Bar Junior for Bristol and in 2008 was elected Circuit Junior for the Western Circuit. He has expertise in sexual offences cases, having prosecuted and defended in rapes, sexual assaults, child pornography, child abduction and internet grooming offences. In particular, he is experienced in representing the interests of young and vulnerable witnesses and defendants. He additionally conducts trials involving the supply of Class A drugs, offences of violence and dishonesty, and is frequently instructed to prosecute multi-defendant cases. He has been led by Queen’s Counsel in numerous cases involving a range of offences.

Head of the Complex Casework Unit at the CPS,
Ann Reddrop. Did she have a hand in
choosing Albion Chambers and then getting
Paul Cook to change his mind about bail?
Paul Cook stated that his client would be applying for bail, and said his client would be present for that application the following day. He took no steps to have the defendant’s allegations of corruption by LGC Forensics investigated by the Magistrate. Nor did he attempt to counter the lies in the news media about the possibility that the victim might have been sexually assaulted, his client’s alleged relationship to Joanna Yeates, his actual relationship to Tanja Morson, or the suggestion that it was she who had tipped off the police. These issues, he may have reasoned, would best be handled the following day by the judge in the Crown Court, where he felt confident that his client would be freed on bail. He evidently hadn’t got the measure of Ann Reddrop, Head of the Complex Casework Unit at the CPS, nor grasped that she was keeping one step ahead of him.

Michael Fitton QC
However, both Vincent Tabak’s first barrister and another lawyer, Michael Fitton QC, Head of the same chambers, who took over his representation for the preliminary hearing before Mr. Justice Treacy on 31st January 2011, failed to apply for bail. Evidently there was something about the behaviour of the police, the CPS and the Magistrate that Mr. Cook could not deal with.
  • Did they trick Vincent Tabak and his solicitor from Crossman into believing at first that it was a tip-off from the “sobbing girl that had made the police suspicious of him? 
  • Was his alleged dumping of the body the first reason why the CPS opposed bail for the defendant? 
  • Was it only after the hearing before the Magistrate that the CPS introduced the defendant’s alleged attempt to incriminate his landlord at the time of the 6 hour Schiphol interview as their second reason for opposing bail and the original reason for making him a suspect? Had the CPS been party to the decision not to tell the press that detectives had flown to Holland while the landlord was in custody so that the duty solicitor would not even think to ask her client about Schiphol? Most of what passed between the participants in the Schiphol interview has never been made public.
  • Did the CPS supply Crossman & Co or Albion Chambers with evidence to support the unattributed allegation in The Sun newspaper, 21st January 2011, that “Tabak knew landscape architect Jo and they worked together on joint schemes for their respective firms, according to a former colleague of his at consultant engineers Buro Happold. They said: ‘They would have met in her office or on location.’”? This contradicts the first statement he signed after his arrest, insisting that he did not know Joanna Yeates. 
  • Did the police trick Crossman’s solicitor with dubious “sacrificial” forensic evidence allegedly found during the protracted occupation of 44 Canynge Road, placing Vincent Tabak in Joanna’s flat and her body in his flat? – evidence used to persuade the solicitor to advise her client to consider manslaughter – evidence that would subsequently be dropped from the Crown’s case once it had served its purpose.
  • Did Ann Reddrop explain to Paul Cook that Joanna Yeates was one of the victims of an influential criminal group whom the police could not touch? This made it a Complex Case, for which Vincent Tabak was to be persuaded to plead guilty, and perhaps to be given a secret amnesty.
Mr. Cook also failed to ensure that the defendant was smart and tidy for his first appearance in court, and failed to advise him to plead his innocence. Neither Paul Cook nor Crossman’s duty solicitor had experience of a highly articulate defendant on a serious criminal charge, so it was their mistake to advise him to say as little as possible instead of defending himself at the public hearings.

On 26th January 2011, an independent pathologist, Nat Cary, carried out an examination of Joanna’s body on behalf of the defence lawyers. He reported that many of the injuries had been inflicted after death and disputed that the remainder demonstrated any ferocity in the attack and that it had been sexually motivated. In spite of this fresh evidence in his client’s favour, Michael Fitton QC still made no bail application despite the opportunity presented by Vincent Tabak’s timetable hearing on 31st January 2011. Was this because the CPS now insisted that the bruises on Joanna’s body (which had not previously been mentioned in the charge) showed that the attack had been sexually motivated, that she had been beaten up before she was killed, and that her killer therefore intended grievous bodily harm?

After the trial, a police spokesman read out a statement from Joanna Yeates’s parents containing the following sentence about Vincent Tabak: “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 evils, deprivations and degredations that his situation can provide.” Since his solicitor failed to apply for bail, this is also a description of his situation during the eight months prior to his trial when he was still supposed to be presumed innocent. His barristers permitted this punitive custody without regular contact to friends, family and partner, and without taking steps to deal with the presumption of guilt prevailing among the general public.

Mr. Cook also failed to challenge the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service to present the case against the defendant and the evidence supporting it to the Magistrate - and he failed to challenge the Magistrate for not asking for it. Was it Vincent Tabak himself who eventually decided to dismiss Crossman Solicitors, because of their failure on two occasions to obtain bail for him and for their advice to say as little as possible in his preliminary hearings? Was this precisely the intention of the CPS, where the cunning Ann Reddrop was constantly keeping one step ahead?

Crossman & Co were paid a modest £3358.98 for this brief by the Legal Services Commission, of which they retained £835.56 in litigation fees, and disbursed £2523.42, presumably to Albion Chambers and the independent pathologist Dr. Nathaniel Cary.

“Men & women of the jury: I am not going to ask you to like my client. Frankly, there is nothing to like about him. His behaviour is disgusting”

- William Clegg QC, 25th October 2011

Ian Kelcey
By the time of the plea hearing on 5th May 2011, another defence team from a different chambers in Bristol, Kelcey & Hall, had taken over from Crossman & Co of Radstock. None of the members of the new team knew Vincent Tabak, so none of them could guarantee whether the person seen on the video screen entering a plea of manslaughter was the defendant or not. The leader of the new team, Ian Kelcey, was the immediate past Chairman of the National Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee. He is frequently called upon to commentate in both newspapers and the national media on issues arising out of criminal law. Mr Kelcey has also gained a reputation for representing high profile figures such as police officers, members of the legal profession and professional sports personalities.

Ian Kelcey qualified as a Solicitor in 1980. Since qualifying he has been involved in a large number of notable cases and has built up a formidable reputation as one of the foremost criminal law solicitors of his generation. He has been involved in numerous murder cases, has advised and represented clients in relation to corporate manslaughter, and has wide experience tackling complex and lengthy fraud cases. Mr Kelcey has also gained a reputation for representing high profile figures such as police officers, members of the legal profession and professional sports personalities.

Was this choice due to the influence of the Head of the CPS’s Complex Casework UnitAnn Reddrop, or Avon & Somerset’s Chief Constable Colin Port? Was it part of the so-called chaplain’s brief to recommend Kelcey & Hall to the prisoner who sought his counselling? Whatever the answer may be, it is totally misleading to designate the second team of lawyers who acted for Vincent Tabak as “the defence”. As this post documents, the team was flying a “false flag”. They were unremitting in their efforts to secure the conviction and the longest possible sentence for their client – and to defend the police against having to apprehend the unknown killers of Joanna Yeates and their other victims. This in itself shows that they knew Vincent Tabak is innocent, and he even collaborated with Mr. Kelcey’s team to get himself convicted.

Why was Vincent Tabak not asked how he pleaded at his first three preliminary appearances in court? Why did his barristers not ensure that he pleaded Not Guilty? No one was aware that the defendant had answered “No comment” to nearly all the police’s questions until it was thrown in his face at his trial nine months later.

As an experienced employer of foreign experts like Vincent Tabak, his employer, global architectural consultancy Buro Happold, had several days to engage a suitable law firm to defend him. It would hardly be in the firm’s interest to become known as the employer of a consultant who strangled an architect. To prevent this from happening, you would expect the firm to have engaged a London solicitor to represent a foreign employee whom they themselves had brought to the neighbourhood, so as to prevent local interests from applying pressure. Instead, they did nothing, while a prominent local solicitor with nationwide connections took over the case. The failure of Counsel for the Defence to call Vincent Tabak’s team leader into court as a witness to his employee’s good character, whilst permitting Counsel for the Prosecution to read out to the jury a trivial but negative statement by the team leader on 17th October 2011, suggests that Buro Happold may have connived with the police and the CPS to the detriment of their employee.

William Clegg QC
Counsel for the Defence William Clegg QC (of 2 Bedford Row, London) was instructed by Kelcey & Hall, but he was probably chosen by Chief Constable Colin Port personally. Mr. Clegg made his first court appearance in this case at the Old Bailey videolink plea and case-management hearing on 5th May 2011.

Mr. Clegg grew up in Essex and read Law at Bristol University, so he has a significant connection to Avon & Somerset. He has defended clients in Northern Ireland and cases brought before the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, including Drago Josipovica. Colin Port has also been posted to Northern Ireland and The Hague, so he and Mr. Clegg are probably accustomed to co-operating.

At Vincent Tabak’s trial Mr. Clegg was to be assisted on 24th October 2011 by junior defence counsel Dean Armstrong of William Clegg Chambers.

Instead of protesting about the violation of prisoner-lawyer confidentiality to which the Salvation Army chaplain had been party by trickery, Mr. Clegg would use this episode on 8th February 2011 to deceive the jury and the public into believing the Prosecution’s false claim that the prisoner had confessed only a short time after being remanded to having killed Joanna. Mr. Clegg’s double act with the chaplain provides evidence that he would have been a willing party to the use of a stand-in to enter his client’s unsound manslaughter plea via video-link on 5th May 2011. Since no one in the public gallery at the Old Bailey had ever met Vincent Tabak nor knew him personally, none of the journalists would have seen through the deception. Once the guilty plea became public knowledge, it would have been easier for the lawyers to persuade the prisoner that he would get nowhere by attempting to withdraw it.

William Clegg and the unsound admissions of guilt

Mr. Clegg’s cross-examination of the chaplain in court on 18th October 2011 would show clearly which side the QC was on – and it wasn’t his client’s. In return for the guilty plea to manslaughter, Vincent Tabak’s defence team could have bargained for a written assurance from the prosecution that they would accept the plea and not go for murder. But they didn’t.

No evidence was presented to prove that it was Vincent Tabak who actually killed Joanna Yeates: the only evidence against him led in court suggested that it may have been he who committed the lesser crime of dumping the victim’s body – and that evidence, sparse as it was, turned out to be unsound. Mr. Clegg could have argued that his client did this in a panic after the real killer had placed the body so that it would incriminate the defendant. But he didn’t. Mr. Clegg should have advised his client that the prosecution could never secure his conviction on the basis of so little evidence and so suspicious a confession. But he didn’t. He failed to ensure that there was a witness present in court at the plea and case management hearing on 5th May 2011 who would testify under oath that he or she knew the defendant well enough to confirm whether the face on the video screen really was Vincent Tabak’s. Instead, Mr. Clegg accepted the phoney plea and collaborated with the prosecution.

The so-called “evidence” of bad character

The Old Bailey
On dates that are themselves subject to permanent reporting restrictions, Counsel for the Prosecution applied unsuccessfully to submit the details of Vincent Tabak’s alleged viewing of adult pornographic videos and contacts to prostitutes in Calfornia and Newcastle as evidence.

There is no reason to doubt that the so-called “bad character evidence” was included with other evidence against Vincent Tabak served by the Crown on or before 1st April 2011. Because his defence team initially rejected its admissibility, the Prosecution must have made their first application before the new judge Mr. Justice Field to have the “evidence” of both the adult pornography and the contacts to call-girls admitted during the plea and case-management hearing at the Old Bailey on 5th May 2011. Journalists from most of the main news media were present. Joanna’s parents were also present. However, there was no one in court who knew the defendant, nor any members of the general public. If the person seen on the video-screen who claimed to be the defendant was an imposter, as seems most probable, then the real Vincent Tabak would have been unaware of the very existence of this “evidence” until some time after he had signed his “enhanced statement” on 22nd September 2011.

The prosecution made a second application to have the defendant’s alleged viewing of adult pornographic videos admitted at the start of the trial, about 5th October 2011, just before the jury was sworn in. It was again rejected. The Counsel for the defence insisted that the adul pornographic material on Vincent Tabak’s computer was not illegal and would not help the jury come to a conclusion about his client’s guilty mind. He said there was no evidence that the Dutchman had watched the scenes in the porn films where the women were held around the neck. Counsel also said that the three women of a similar appearance to Joanna Yeates were among 56 thumbnail pictures on his laptop.

Mr. Lickley made an application to cross-examine the defendant about his alleged contacts to prostitutes, probably shortly before Counsel finished presenting the prosecution’s case, on 19th October 2011 during the “show” trial, with the Bristol jury sent out of the Crown Court. This application was rejected.

However, Vincent Tabak’s defence did not draw the judge’s attention to the Prosecution’s failure to state that St. Luis Obispo is a tourist attraction 200 miles from Los Angeles, and to the facts that the defendant’s obviously primary purpose in going there at his own expense was a weekend of tourism and healthy outdoor recreation after four weeks’ intensive hard work away from home, and that Newcastle is a fascinating tourist attraction for a young engineer. Counsel failed to point out the absence of any evidence (such as sworn affidavits from any of the girls) that the defendant had done more than chat on the telephone to any of the call-girls, and the absence of the names of any of the police officers who had collected the evidence from the defendant’s computers, telephone records and bank records.

Mr. Clegg should also have ensured that the highly private and personal and fundamentally phoney “evidence” about the adult pornographic videos and the prostitutes was not revealed to anyone else in court apart from the judge. He should have pointed out to the judge that these obviously were not related to the case, because the victim had not been assaulted sexually nor had she had consensual sex with the accused. Joanna Yeates’s death was a straight killing, of the kind depicted fictionally every day on TV and in the cinemas, and bore no relation to the scenarios with sexual intercourse accompanied by subsidiary activities in the pornographic videos.

The 43 injuries that the inquest did not reveal

An inquest into Joanna’s death had been concluded by the Avon Coroner on 28th March 2011. Unaccountably, none of the news media reported its findings, but Vincent Tabak’s defence team must have been well aware of them. The extent of the injuries to Joanna’s body was not disclosed to the public until the trial, so it is quite likely that the defendant’s claim to be unaware of them was truthful. It would have made no sense for him to sign the “enhanced statement” nor to stand trial for manslaughter if his defence team had informed him that they accepted that her injuries constituted clear evidence of intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The inquest found that Joanna died on 25th December 2010 at Longwood Lane, yet Mr. Clegg did not challenge the charge that his client killed her between 16th and 19th December 2010 at 44 Canynge Road.

The curious basis for the trial

Vincent Tabak was not present for a brief hearing held at Bristol Crown Court on 7th September 2011. William Clegg QC said his team would supply the court with an enhanced statement of the defence case. The statement would reveal the time of Joanna Yeates’s death, the degree of force used to kill her and the circumstances in which her body was deposited on a verge at Longwood Lane. Mr Clegg also asked whether it would be possible to house his client at Bristol Prison for the trial, rather than putting him through a four-hour daily round trip back and forth from Long Lartin.

In return for his client’s signing that enhanced confession on 22nd September 2011, Mr Clegg could have bargained for a written assurance that it was going to be accepted by the prosecution. It was based on a curious theory about Joanna’s death fed by unidentified detectives to journalists Andrew Gregory and Richard Smith and reported in The Mirror, 11th January 2011. It owed nothing, therefore, to Vincent Tabak’s own questioning in police custody, nor to his conversations with his defence lawyers. Clearly his defence team pressed Vincent Tabak to sign it by using Daniel Lancaster’s sentence as bait, and to take his chance with the jury and trust that they would accept it. That is what happened, but the jury didn’t wear it in the show trial that ensued. It is possible that the prosecution gave the defence assurances that they would accept the plea, but they could renege on that at any time once Vincent Tabak was committed. Apparently the prosecution wanted to prove to the nation that they had detected a cunning and dangerous psychopath, and they knew that Vincent Tabak was already more than half way to a life sentence for murder, because they had his confession in the bag. Nevertheless, the prosecution called no witnesses in support of the contention that the defendant was a “crazy, detached person”.

The failure of habeas corpus

Two of Vincent Tabak’s preliminary appearances before judges had been by videolink from prison. His defence team did not challenge the exploitation of their client to promote the products of the video industry for financial gain. Mr. Clegg did not ask what the prison authorities sought to conceal from the judge by preventing the prisoner from appearing in person. He did not ask for proof that the defendant could name the court where the hearing was taking place. The defence not ensure the prisoner’s fundamental rights by applying for writs of habeas corpus.

Where will the trial be held?

Bristol Crown Court
It was Counsel for the prosecution who on 5th May 2011 applied for his trial to be held in Winchester, ostensibly to minimize the influence of adverse local publicity (but also very convenient for Mr. Lickley’s chambers in 3 Paper Buildings), and Vincent Tabak’s defence team who, catastrophically for Vincent Tabak as it would turn out, asked for the trial to be held at Bristol Crown Court. In other words, his own defence decided to expose him to jurors whom even the prosecution expected to be prejudiced against him.

The reason given for this was that Counsel for the Defence was keen for the jurors to visit the flat where Joanna Yeates had lived, so that they could visualize for themselves the fictitious scenario that the police had contrived for the sequence of events that Mr. Clegg would tell the jury led to the killing. Mr. Clegg’s “murder tourism” initiative was just one factor that made a cruel “show” out of Vincent Tabak’s trial.

Mr. Clegg failed to call Tanja Morson, Christopher Jefferies, David Yeates and Teresa Yeates as witnesses. The jury would have regarded the defendant’s girlfriend as a much more reliable witness to answer many of the questions that were put by the two QCs to Vincent Tabak when he went into the witness stand. She could hardly have failed to make a good impression on the jury. None of the statements she is known to have made to police were heard by the jury. The landlord had volunteered a 2nd witness statement to police about two men whom he had seen and heard talking to Joanna, and he had subsequently come to believe that one of these men was probably her killer. Yet the jury did not hear this statement. Although Joanna’s parents would have been hostile to the defendant, the statements each of them had made to WPC Anneliese Jackson shortly after their arrival at the flat on 20th December 2010 were not heard by the court, but these would certainly have helped the jury to see through some of the glaring holes in the Prosecution’s case.

With a defence team like that...

As Ian Kelcey had allowed the accused to stand trial on the basis of an unsound guilty plea to killing Joanna Yeates without intent, it would have been very difficult for Counsel to further the Defence case by challenging many of the Prosecution’s arguments in court. Nevertheless Mr Clegg frequently and spectacularly did not do so during the “show” trial that began on 10th October 2011. Even so, Counsel could have reminded the jury (and DCI Phil Jones) that his client had only been exercising his legal right in answering “No comment” to questions put to him by detectives after he was arrested. Mr. Clegg supported the Prosecution’s case that Joanna Yeates was strangled in her flat, even though the weight of the evidence – dominated by the absence there both of her blood and of the defendant’s DNA, the missing sock and the missing pizza box – indicated that she did not die in her flat.

...who needs a prosecutor?

Vincent Tabak in Asda. The lower left-hand
corner of the video has been blurred to prevent
the time of its capture from being determined.
On 10th October 2011, the first day of the trial, the court was shown a succession of videos while the prosecutor was delivering his opening speech. Counsel for the Defence failed to point out to the jury thet the absence of a timestamp on the CCTV video they watched on the first day of the trial that showed Vincent Tabak in Asda wearing his black coat on the night when the murder is alleged to have been committed showed that the video had been tampered with. Counsel failed to point out to the jury that the absence of a witness to authenticate the supermarket where the video was captured invalidated it as evidence.

Although the prosecution claimed that the defendant had left Joanna’s body in the luggage compartment of the car he had used to drive to the Bedminster supermarket, Mr. Clegg failed to draw the jury’s attention to the absence of any of the victim’s DNA that they would expect to have been found on the accused’s black coat after he had tried unsuccessfully to heave her bloodied body over a stone wall. Nor would he raise this question when he came to cross-examine the DNA expert on 18th October 2011.

He did not even challenge the evidence of the fibres from this coat that the prosecution alleged had been found on the victim’s body. Mr. Clegg failed to point out that the prosecution had produced no evidence that the fibres originated from this particular black coat and not a black coat worn by one of the thousands of other men who could not prove they were not in Clifton on the evening in question.

The prosecution read out to the court the very private e-mails that Vincent Tabak had exchanged with his girlfriend during the daytimes in the week after Joanna Yeates disappeared, revealing how worried and disturbed they both were by the fate of their neighbour. Defence Counsel failed to point out to the jury what a close and affectionate couple these e-mails demonstrated the pair to be - especially when compared to the attitude towards keeping in touch shown by the victim’s boyfriend during the critical weekend. Counsel for the Defence allowed this very private correspondence from after the killing to be disclosed in court, even though it played no part in helping the jury determine the accused’s intentions prior to the killing.

Death tourism at Canynge Road

Joanna Yeates’s flat with Christmas decorations
On 12th October 2011 the judge, the journalists and the jury were conducted on a field tour to Longwood Lane and the Hophouse pub, from which they retraced the last leg of Joanna Yeates’s walk home to her flat at 44 Canynge Road. The jury were shown both the defendant’s flat (briefly) and the victim’s flat (for long enough to become even more hostile towards the person who had done away with its tragic owner – whom none of them had met). Mr. Clegg himself did not take part in the field tour. He saved the prosecution the trouble by getting the jurors to see for themselves how it would have been possible for Vincent Tabak to have caught Joanna Yeates’s eye through the window if he happened to walk past her flat while she was in her kitchen, if she happened to look out. They were also conducted across the road to No. 53 Canynge Road, from which witnesses Matthew Phillips and Mr. & Mrs. Lehman had heard screams. Without getting the jurors themselves to actually carry out a systematic scream test (as Hercule Poirot did in Agatha Christie’s “Murder in Mesopotamia” and Captain Hastings did in the TV version), Mr. Clegg had beforehand suggested to the jurors that any screams inside the flat would have been inaudible to the witnesses. This argument supported the evidence, which includes the absence from the flat of the pizza box, the sock and any blood traces, that she was killed somewhere other than in the flat – by someone other than the defendant. However Mr. Clegg was determined to incriminate his client, and argued that the sounds that the witnesses had heard were unconnected with Joanna’s death. His alleged purpose in setting up this excursion was to show that she was killed at least half-an-hour after she had got home. His undeclared second agenda was to put on a “show” to prejudice the jury against his client and to reinforce the deceipt that this was where she died.

Friends of the victim and friends of the defendant

Darragh Bellew
The Defence failed to cross-examine Darragh Bellew, who testified on 13th October 2011 about the party at the Bristol Ram pub, to find out whether any bruises had been visible on Joanna’s face or bare arms. They failed to ask this witness where Joanna had been carrying her money when she bought him a pint – whether she kept it in her jeans pockets, her jacket pockets, a handbag or her rucksack.

The Defence failed to call Elizabeth Chandler or any of the other prosecution witnesses who knew the victim to cross-examine her about whether the fact that Joanna was “dreading” spending the weekend alone might have been because she and her boyfriend were no longer lovers, or whether she was afraid of him, or why Joanna did not accompany him to Sheffield.

The Defence failed to call Sarah Maddock, Louise Apthorpe, Andrew Lillie, Linda Marland (all of whom supplied witness statements that were read in court on the fourth day of the trial, 13th October 2011), Glen O’Hare (18th October 2011) or Geoffrey Hardyman (24th October 2011) to testify whether from their knowledge of Vincent Tabak’s character in his private life after he came to the UK he could properly be described as a “detached crazy person”. Counsel had apparently made an unreported deal with the prosecution not to present to the jury any “good character evidence”.

Fr. George Harwood
It is not clear whether Mr. Clegg was in court on 13th October, so it seems more likely that it was Junior Defence Counsel Dean Armstrong who asked Fr. George Harwood, the second witness to testify in person that day, whether he had seen anyone else in the vicinity at the time of his brief encounter with Joanna Yeates. The priest told the court that he had also noticed a couple walking along, but he did not notice where they went. He was not asked to specify the road junction near which he believed he had seen the victim, but the court had been told that Fr. Harwood had been the last person to see Joanna alive, apart from her killer. Nor was the priest asked to state the time at which he had exchanged pleasantries with her. Fr. Harwood had told the court that he had been walking his Labrador dog on their customary route between 8.15 and 8.30 p.m., i.e., before Joanna had been captured on CCTV shopping in Clifton Village, in contradiction of the sequence of events that Counsel for the Prosecution had given in his opening speech.

Cross-examination of the forensics co-ordinator

Andrew Mott
On 14th October 2011Counsel for the Defence cross-examined forensics co-ordinator Andrew Mott, who had been among the first to be called to the scene in Longood Lane on 25th December 2010. He said the snow was undisturbed around Joanna Yeates’s body and there was blood staining on the wall next to her. He tried to prevent the body from thawing out. He explained that a broom-handle was used to position straps under her body to facilitate its removal. When Mr. Clegg asked him why no photographs had been taken of the broom-handle, he replied, “No comment”. He added that the straps he and his colleagues had used were hooked round the broom, and it was the straps that came into contact with the body.

Cross-examination of the Home Office pathologist

The Home Office pathologist Russell Delaney was very confident when he told the jury on 14th October 2011 that the petite Joanna Yeates had not been sexually assaulted, and he believed that the disarray of her bra had most probably been caused by a failed attempt to heave her body over a stone wall. Cross-examining the Home Office pathologist, Mr. Clegg asked whether “no more than moderate force” had been used to kill Joanna Yeates.

Dr. Delaney: “The evidence is consistent with it being forceful enough, and in my opinion it is difficult to quantify on a subjective scale.”

Pressed again on the use of “moderate force”, Dr Delaney said: “I am not disagreeing, but it is not the phraseology that I would use if asked to express it.”

Mr. Clegg: “Would you agree with me that death may have been caused in a matter of seconds rather than minutes?

Dr. Russell Delaney“I can't tell how long it took. The death occurred after a period of time sufficient to leave the signs of neck compression. It may be a number of seconds but I wouldn’t quantify it any further than that.”

Mr. Clegg referred to the evidence from partygoer Zoe Lehman, who had said that she recalled hearing a scream, a two-second gap, a second muffled scream and then a thud coming from the direction of Joanna Yeates’s flat on the night she died. “– In any view, a period of less than 10 seconds,” Mr Clegg said. “Is it your view that what that lady and her husband heard could represent the time span of the events that led to Joanna's death?”

Dr Delaney: “It could do but the event could have taken longer than that, yes.”

Counsel for the Defence asked why Dr. Delaney had not mentioned the use of the broom handle in his report. He replied that he was confident that the broom-handle did not cause any injuries.

In the middle of Mr. Clegg’s cress-examination of the Home Officer pathologist, the court adjourned for the weekend. On Monday 17th October 2011, at the start of the 6th day of the trial, the Defence’s cross-examination of Dr Russell Delaney continued. The pathologist’s testimony was not as fresh in the minds of those in court as it would have been if the weekend had not intervened since they had heard it being delivered. Joanna Yeates’s parents were in court.

On 17th October 2011, cross-examining Dr. Delaney further, William Clegg QC asked Dr. Delaney: “Have you had previous experience of victims of strangulation?” The pathologist replied that he had had at least one case.

Mr. Clegg suggested that his client had used just one hand to strangle Joanna. The pathologist replied that he “cannot exclude the use of one hand being used.” Mr Clegg asked whether it would have been impossible for Miss Yeates to scream as her neck was being squeezed. “That would depend on the nature of the neck compression,” Dr Delaney replied, adding that the injuries were consistent with being strangled by either one or two hands, and that blood on her T-shirt may have been deposited after death.

Counsel for the Defence asked: “Is it not true that in longer assaults, victims tend to claw at their own neck to try and free themselves?” Dr. Delaney agreed, but told the court that Joanna Yeates’s fingernails were very short.

Mr Clegg asked Dr. Delaney whether the fact that Joanna Yeates’s body was frozen could have affected the number of injuries on her body. Dr Delaney replied: “In this case the injuries I have identified, in my opinion, occurred during death.” Pressed again by Mr Clegg, Dr. Delaney accepted that “under some circumstances, yes”, the formation of ice crystals in the body could appear after death occurred. Dr. Delaney told the court that he washed Joanna Yeates’s body in cold water.

Dr. Delaney was also asked about a fractured thyroid horn which defence’s pathologist Dr. Nat Cary had spotted, in a third post-mortem examination, was broken. The pathologist said “it did not appear broken”, and added that the fracture could have been there before death and became more pronounced during the post-mortem examinations.

The Court heard about how long food takes to digest. Dr Delaney said he was unable to give a timescale as to when Joanna Yeates died. Delaney said that some of the injuries to Joanna Yeates were minor when seen in isolation – but the grip marks to her wrists etc. showed a “context that was not minor”. Dr. Delaney told the jury that it was not “scientifically possible” to determine how long it took to kill Joanna Yeates.

Counsel for the Defence failed to cross-examine Dr. Delaney to find out:
  • why he allowed three hours to elapse before he went to Longwood Lane 
  • whether he recorded the contents of the pockets of Joanna's jeans 
  • whether he looked for evidence of recent sexual intercourse 
  • whether he examined the contents of Joanna’s bladder
  • whether he investigated the presence of urine in her clothes
  • whether he reached any conclusion about the phase in her menstrual cycle at which she died
  • whether he believed that Joanna’s nose fracture was the result of a head-butt from her assailant
  • whether he was able to recover biological material from underneath Joanna’s short fingernails that might have come from her assailant
  • from which locations on the body he took swabs and tapings for DNA analysis
  • what analysis he carried out of to determine the presence of alcohol and toxicants
  • what size sock Joanna would normally wear
  • how the foetal position in which Joanna’s body was found could be reconciled with the attempt that was allegedly made to lift her over the wall
  • how the foetal position in which her body was found could be reconciled with the attention given to packing leaves around her body
  • whether the foetal position in which she was found was consistent with her being transported in a large holdall or cycle-bag
  • whether she was pregnant or not.
During cross-examination, Dr. Delaney acknowledged that some of the 43 injuries sustained by Joanna Yeates could have predated the events of her death. Mr. Clegg failed to ask the pathologist whether they could be linked to the headaches from which she had been suffering and the day’s sick leave she had taken from work the day before her death.

Mr. Clegg never cross-examined Dr. Delaney about whether he took the temperature of the body in an effort to determine how long ago death had occurred. He never asked why he Dr. Delaney himself did not examine the contents of her stomach in the course of the second post-mortem.

Joanna’s boyfriend in the witness box

Greg Reardon
On 17th October 2011 the victim’s boyfriend Greg Reardon testified about the events of the weekend of Joanna’s death. Mr. Clegg did not cross-examine him at all. Counsel for the Defence failed to ask Reardon why Joanna had not accompanied him to Sheffield, and why he had waited more than 4½ hours to telephone the police, having allegedly already failed several times to contact Joanna during the preceding two days. Mr. Clegg failed to discredit the witness’s description of the disorder and signs of a sex-related struggle in the flat by drawing attention to the impression he had given when she was first reported missing that suggested that Joanna could have left of her own accord. Counsel also failed to cross-examine the boyfriend about whether the victim had incurred any of her 43 injuries during the days leading up to her death.

Mr. Clegg failed to ask the witness whether he had also found in the flat the black bag carried by Joanna on her way home from the Bristol Ram, and about its contents. He failed to ask Reardon where his girlfriend normally carried her keys, phone, money and credit cards when she went out - whether she kept them in her jeans pockets, her jacket pockets, a handbag or her rucksack.

Her best friend in the witness box

Rebecca Scott
On 17th October 2011 Joanna Yeates’s best friend Rebecca Scott testified that Ms Yeates and Greg Reardon were “the perfect couple” and their relationship was “the real deal”. Mr. Clegg failed to cross-examine this witness about whether the victim’s really bad headaches and the day’s sick leave she had taken off work the day before her death suggested that “the real deal” had also included violence and  why Joanna had not accompanied her boyfriend to Sheffield. Mr. Clegg failed to ask this witness whether Matthew Wood were an old flame of Joanna’s.

Had Mr. Clegg wanted to win his case, he would have used both of these witnesses to plant in the minds of the jury the idea that Joanna, with her recent academic achievements superior to his, might have taunted her boyfriend to violence by accusing him of being tied too closely to his elderly parents’ apron strings. Counsel failed to cross-examine these witnesses so as to suggest that Joanna’s contacts to three male friends on the way home, however innocent, could have indicated that she habitually gave her “besotted” boyfriend grounds for jealous anger leading to blows whose bruises could be concealed under makeup.

Counsel for the Defence failed to cross-examine either of these witnesses nor either of the pathologists about Joanna’s menstrual calendar, nor whether her absence from work on the day before her death was connected with her period. PMT (PMS) could have influenced both her relationship to her boyfriend and her behaviour towards the neighbour whom she allegedly invited in to her flat and was perceived by him as flirty. As the Prosecution never advanced any explanation for why Joanna was murdered, each of these witnesses presented Mr. Clegg with an opportunity to elicit whether she might have been killed because she had believed herself to be pregnant.

The Detective Constable who went to Schiphol

Detective Constable Karen Thomas
On 17th October 2011, Detective Constable Karen Thomas testified that she and a colleague had travelled to the Netherlands on new year’s eve 2010 to interview Vincent Tabak at Schiphol about the curious case of the landlord’s car in the night. Volunteering this information as a public-spirited response to the police’s appeal for any information that might help apprehend Joanna’s killer was held against the defendant as an effort to incriminate Christopher Jefferies falsely. Mr. Clegg failed to cross-examine DC Thomas about Mr. Jefferies’s version of the episode. If the landlord had denied that his car was facing the other way, then the prosecution would certainly have used this to further discredit the defendant. If not, then Mr. Clegg could have used the episode to discredit this key witness. But he didn’t.

Mr. Clegg failed to ask DC Thomas about how Tanja Morson, the instigator of the phone call, had followed the reports of the case in the English media while she was away in Cambridge and the Netherlands, and whether she had taken her own laptop, or had shared the one used by Vincent Tabak.

Mr. Clegg failed to cross-examine Detective Constable Karen Thomas about the legality of her trip to the Netherlands on new year’s eve 2010 to interview Vincent Tabak at Schiphol. What had started as a voluntary witness interview developed into a reluctant suspect interview, to the consternation of the accused’s sister and his girlfriend. Mr. Clegg failed to ask whether the defendant had been cautioned before being treated as a suspect. He failed to ask whether a Dutch detective or a lawyer were present at the interview to ensure that Netherlands sovereignty was not violated. He failed to ask for the identity of the colleague who accompanied DC Thomas, and whether this colleague played some role in liaising with the Dutch police. A killing with neither a motive nor a cause is extremely unusual, and ought to raise the eyebrows of every law-abiding citizen, but Vincent Tabak’s defence counsel failed to cross-examine this witness about what steps she had taken to try to establish a possible motive for the accused. It was eight days after this Schiphol interview that unattributed police sources leaking to The Mail had first publicly suggested sex as the motive for the crime, yet Mr. Clegg failed to ask DC Karen Thomas what questions she had put to the defendant about his sexual preferences after she had by her own admission noticed that he was the sort of man over whom women “fuss”. Mr. Clegg failed to point out to the jury that the prosecution never suggested any motive for why Vincent Tabak should have murdered Miss Yeates.

My girlfriend is not where she is supposed to be

A statement from police officer Anneliese Jackson was read out in court on 17th October 2011 about her being called out to Canynge Road by Greg Reardon early in the morning of 20th December 2010. Mr. Clegg was not able to cross-examine WPC Jackson about the major disparity between the boyfriend’s testimony in court of the signs of a struggle that he claimed to have found in the flat, and the absence of any suspicion in his call to the police and in the subsequent press conference that Joanna had not left the flat of her own free will. Counsel was also unable to ask WPC Jackson whether she went on to rouse the other residents of the house from their beds to inquire whether they they knew anything about Joanna’s disappearance, and why she had taken Greg Reardon with her.

The defendant’s boss

Dr. Shrikant Sharma
On 17th October 2011, a statement from Vincent Tabak’s team boss Dr. Shrikant Sharma was read out in court by the prosecution that the accused had asked him for a ‘confidential chat’ four days after the murder, when he described himself as feeling ‘stressed’ at the police activity in his building as the missing person inquiry intensified. He was the only witness who had known the accused prior to the murder. The jury was not told that Dr. Sharma is a brilliant engineer with a doctorate from the University of Manchester and a global reputation in the fields of numerical modelling and simulations. Vincent Tabak’s team leader at the Bath office of the global engineering consultancy where they both worked, Buro Happold, said that Vincent Tabak had confessed to having ‘difficulty concentrating’.

Counsel for the Defence could not cross-examine this witness because the team leader did not testify in person. He therefore failed to put it to Dr. Sharma that any normal person would have reacted to their neighbour’s uncanny disappearance in that way. He failed to ask the witness for his assessment of the effect on Vincent Tabak and his girlfriend of the having police crawling all over the house for weeks on end, forcing them eventually to decamp to Aberdeen Road, Cotham.

Owing to his unreported agreement with the prosecution not to submit any evidence of the defendant’s character to the jury, Mr. Clegg neglected the opportunity to cross-question the witness as to Vincent Tabak’s intelligence, reliability and emotional stability. He failed to cross-examine the witness in order to demolish the prosecution’s claims that the defendant is a deceitful, manipulative liar. Mr. Clegg neglected the opportunity to ask the witness whether the defendant had ever to his knowledge done anything “disgusting” before the 17th December 2010, when he claimed to have dumped Joanna’s body in Longwood Lane. If Mr. Clegg had put Dr. Sharma into the position of having to state either that his employee was normally conscientious, hard-working and highly intelligent, or, conversely, that the defendant was deceitful, manipulative and stupid, the result either way would have been headlines in the media that showed up Buro Happold in a very bad light. That the agreement not to tell the jury anything about Vincent Tabak’s character suited the Bath-based global architectural consultancy so well, in fact, suggests that his employer was implicated in this highly unfair agreement between the prosecution and the defence.

Counsel for the Defence did not ask the witness whether his client (who on his arrest had signed a statement denying knowing Joanna Yeates) might nevertheless have become acquainted with the victim professionally in the course of their respective jobs in the architectural business.

Vincent Tabak is the kind of highly intelligent young engineer whom employers describe as “highly motivated”, and it was utterly mystifying that neither the Prosecution nor for that matter his Defence QC seemed interested in even attempting to explore his possible motive for killing Miss Yeates. According to Wikipedia: “Motive is particularly important in prosecutions for homicide. First, murder is so drastic a crime that most people recoil from the thought of being able to do it; proof of motive explains why the accused did so desperate an act.”

The place where Joanna’s body lay

A person believed to be Tania
Nickson outside Bristol Crown
Court on 18th October 2011
(frame grabbed from
Sky News video)
Dr. Karl Harrison.
If he saw the body
before it was moved,
this was not reported
At the start of the court proceedings on 18th October 2011, a statement was read out by forensic archaeologist Dr. Karl Harrison, a Forensic Archaeologist at Cranfield University, describing how Joanna’s body was covered with leaves. Counsel for the Defence failed to ask Dr. Karl Harrison about the snow beneath Joanna’s body. Had she been deposited shortly after death, the heat of the body would have melted the snow; whereas if she had been kept for several days in a cold place and then deposited in Longwood Lane, the snow would have been compressed but not melted.

A photo of Joanna’s body, lying fully clothed in the foetal position, with her pink top pushed up, was shown to the jury while forensic scientist Tania Nickson (School of Defence & Security, Cranfield University, Shrivenham) testified about the bloodstain on the wall in Longwood Lane. Mr Clegg cross-examined Tania Nickson briefly. No details of this cross-examination were reported.

Cross-examination of the DNA expert

Lindsay Lennen (left) leaving
 Bristol Crown Court
on 18th October 2011
Counsel for the Defence failed to explain to the jury that they only had the forensic laboratory’s word for it when scientist Lindsay Lennen testified on 18th October 2011 that the “partial DNA” found on the body could be linked to the accused, as the microscopic samples of material had been destroyed in the “enhancement” process. He failed to question her about the length of time needed to apply the DNA SenCE process to enhance the forensic samples found on the victim’s body. Since the laboratory had had these samples in their possession for three days by the time the landlord was arrested, Mr. Clegg could have questioned this Prosecution witness as to why the laboratory did not prevent the arrest of Christopher Jefferies, since the “enhanced” partial DNA from the body could not have matched both the landlord’s DNA and Vincent Tabak’s DNA.

Mr. Clegg failed to ask the forensic scientist if it had really taken more than three weeks to “enhance” the sample from Joanna’s body sufficiently to get the alleged match to the defendant's DNA.

Tanja Morson’s Renault Megane
He also failed to get an independent laboratory to analyze the material found in the car boot to verify the allegations that this contained the victim’s DNA – probably because the samples were consumed in the DNA SenCE enhancement process used by the Prosecution’s forensic laboratory. While cross-examining Lindsay Lennen, he showed his hand by asking her whether she found DNA from any unidentified persons in the luggage compartment of the car used by Vincent Tabak. She answered that there was none. The natural question for a Defence QC to put to this Prosecution witness would have been, “Did you find DNA from any persons other than the victim Joanna Yeates?” But he is a showman. His choice of phrasing shows that Mr. Clegg knew that the forensic scientist had detected DNA from at least one other identified person, probably Tanja Morson (who owned the car), but possibly also from Vincent Tabak, Gregory Reardon, Christopher Jefferies or Geoffrey Hardyman. The detection of any of these would render invalid the claim that the victim’s body had been transported in the boot of the car.

Mr. Clegg failed to draw the jury’s attention to the fact that none of the DNA analysis was acceptable as evidence in court because of the enormous scope for cross-contamination resulting from the fact that the accused and the victim shared the same address, the same car park, the same dustbins, and the same cat territory. He failed to cross-examine Lindsey Lennen about the leak from the laboratory to the media for financial gain alleged by the defendant in a written statement he had given to the police at the time of his arrest.

Mr. Clegg failed to cross-examine the body fluids specialist Lindsey Lennen whether urine was found in the victim’s clothes. Had Joanna really been strangled in her flat, as both he and the Prosecution asserted, the presence of urine would reveal that she had been strangled before having had time to go to the toilet after her walk home from the Bristol Ram pub. Counsel for the Defence knew very well that in two days’ time his client would be taking the witness stand to tell the jury, in words carefully chosen for him by Mr. Clegg and his colleagues, how he had picked up Joanna’s bloodied, lifeless body and laid it on to her own bed, then carried it outside her flat and laid it on the ground halfway to his flat, then laid it down in the hallway, then carried it into his spare room to put it into a cycle bag before carrying it out to the car. If this circus had been supported by any blood stains or other forensic evidence at all, Lindsey Lennen would certainly have told the Court about it. However, the jury never heard anything at all about the formidable and costly forensic investigation of 44 Canynge Road, nor was Mr. Clegg going to give them any opportunity to work out for themselves that the absence of this evidence proves conclusively that the Dutchman’s account of the killing was a long succession of lies.

The Scottish stomach archeologist

Dr. Jennifer Miller
Mr. Clegg failed to cross-examine Glaswegian forensic archeologist Dr. Jennifer Miller (director at Northlight Heritage), who testified on 18th October 2011. She  had examined a sample taken from the stomach and intestines of Joanna Yeates. Dr Miller said she was trying to identify when Joanna experienced trauma, or died, which would have stopped her digestive system working. Dr. Miller stated that Joanna’s last meal had been the portion of cheesy chips that she had shared with her boyfriend Greg Reardon during their lunch break on the 17th December 2010. Dr. Miller told the court that it was very likely that death or severe trauma occurred within 8 to 10 hours of Joanna’s meal. Mr. Clegg failed to put the following pertinent questions to Dr. Miller:
  • How soon after the first post-mortem did you analyse Joanna’s stomach contents?
  • Since Joanna could not have died less than 8 hours after she had eaten the cheesy chips, did you actually identify any traces of these left in the stomach?
  • Was your statement about the nature and timing of Joanna’s last meal obtained from the testimony of Greg Reardon, or from your analysis of the stomach contents?
  • In the absence of the testimony from the boyfriend, would you have been able to identify the meal from the stomach contents?
  • Did you identify anything at all as a result of your analysis?
  • Why have you travelled all the way from Glasgow to tell the court nothing it does not already know?
Mr. Clegg could not ask Dr. Miller whether she had identified traces of the pizza that Joanna had bought in Tesco, as he knew that his own client would subsequently testify, inexplicably, that he had returned to Joanna’s flat, stolen the pizza still in its packaging, and dumped it in a rubbish container. The press reports on 18th January 2011 alleging that Joanna had not eaten the pizza had been unattributed, as Dr. Miller would not have been able to determine this. Even if Dr. Miller hadn’t found any traces of pizza, it cannot be ruled out that Joanna Yeates could have eaten the pizza and been alive for long enough afterwards to still leave no trace of pizza in her stomach or intestines. It is very unlikely that Joanna went hungry for so long that there was nothing at all for Dr. Miller to find at all. It is likely that the real reason why the police had made such a public mystery of the pizza (even before the body was found), and had got a forensic pathologist, Dr. Hugh White, to remove the digestive organs on 17th January 2011 for Dr. Miller to examine, was to prevent the defence pathologist engaged by Vincent Tabak’s lawyers from analysing the contents for himself and thereby establishing that death had occurred at a time when the defendant had an alibi.

“It was not a religious confession”

The chaplain Peter Brotherton.
The jury was not told that he was
actually a Supervising Officer
from Whitemoor Prison
Counsel for the Defence could have rejected outright the Salvation Army Chaplain’s testimony on 18th October 2011 alleging that Vincent Tabak had confessed to him that he had killed Joanna Yeates, on the basis that the prisoner had been assessed as a suicide risk. The Chaplain compromised himself and his testimony by appearing as a prosecution witness against an accused person who had been under his own pastoral care and whose confidentiality he had undertaken to respect before their first conversation.

However, it turned out that Mr. Clegg was manipulating the jury by performing a deceitful pre-arranged double act with this witness. Cross-examining the chaplain as if to discredit him, he put words into the witness’s mouth in such a way as to relieve Peter Brotherton of perjuring himself. Counsel questioned whether Vincent Tabak really had told the Chaplain that he intended to change his plea, suggesting that Vincent Tabak had told the chaplain instead that he was going to plead guilty - “For the crime that I have done”. The jury heard these words as if they had been spoken by Vincent Tabak and repeated by the chaplain - but it was actually only Mr. Clegg the showman who uttered them - and he was not a witness under oath.

Mr. Clegg went on to suggest that the defendant had been “a depressed and distressed man unburdening himself”. If he really were unburdening himself, wouldn’t he have told a full credible story of all the details of the murder he was supposed to have committed? Is it not because he didn’t kill Joanna that he was unable to give a credible story and answered “No comment” or “I can’t remember” when asked for details by the police or the prosecution respectively? The timing and the psychology of the alleged confession were demonstrably false.

The double-act played out in court by Peter Brotherton and Counsel for the Defence suggests that his instructing solicitor Ian Kelcey had been instrumental in setting up the chaplain as early as January 2011, even though he did not become publicly associated with the case until May 2011.

The Detective Constable who interrogated the defendant

DC Paul Derrick
When DC Paul Derrick was called to testify for the prosecution on 18th October 2011 about the interrogation of Vincent Tabak at Trinity road Police Station after his arrest, it was for no other purpose than to enable Counsel for the Defence to discredit the duty solicitor. Mr. Clegg cross-examined the witness about whether there was tension between himself and Vincent Tabak’s duty solicitor (from Crossman Solicitors of Radstock), and whether she had been “out of her depth”. Although the Detective Constable answered “No” to both questions, the questions planted in the minds of the jurors the opposite impression. Instead of cross-examining DC Derrick about the importance of the written allegation made by his client on the solicitor’s advice at the time of his arrest, to the effect that the claim that partial DNA that the forensic laboratory had found on the victim’s body had been leaked by them to the press for financial gain, Mr. Clegg succeeded in discrediting both the statement and his own client as well.

Lyndsey Farmery
Counsel for the Defence failed to ask the police IT expert Lyndsey Farmery, who testified for the Prosecution on 19th October 2011, to submit a timeline of the computer activity of the accused on the critical evening, which would have settled whether the accused even had time to kill his neighbour, stage the scene in the flat and drive out to dump the body. Counsel failed to invite his own client to furnish possible innocent explanations of his Longwood Lane Google and other allegedly incriminating internet activity. Ms Farmery confirmed the identities of the numerous web sites that were shown to the jury, but it was Counsel for the Prosecution who called out the dates on which he alleged the defendant had visited these web sites - and he was not under oath as a witness. Mr. Clegg turned his blind eye to this trick by the prosecution. He failed to ask the jury if they could really believe that a brilliant computer expert such as the defendant would have been so naive as to leave such an incriminating trail on his computers as the Prosecution were claiming he had done.

The Defence case

On 19th October 2011 Mr. Clegg opened the case for the Defence. He did not quote the statement made at the time of the defendant’s abortive appearance at the bail hearing before Mr. Justice Treacy (26th January 2011) by Crown Prosecutor Ann Reddrop that she understood that the accused was “a man of previously good character both in the UK and in the Netherlands”.

Instead, Mr. Clegg told the jury that they would not be hearing any excuses from him for the disgusting behaviour of his client after he had killed his victim. Counsel’s attitude of undisguised contempt closely resembled that of the QC played by actor John Cleese, representing Mr. Toad in court in a film version of Kenneth Grahame’s novel for children, “The Wind in the Willows”, who told the jury that “the full penalty of the law is hardly sufficient for the heinous, callous, unmitigated evil crime perpetrated by the snivelling wretch we now see cowering before us in the dock”.
“causing untold anguish to Joanna’s family”

Joanna Yeates through her lighted window
(BBC “Crimewatch” reconstruction, which was not
shot at 44 Canynge Road)
Opening his case for the Defence, Mr. Clegg asserted that “It was pure chance that Vincent and Joanna had met. If Joanna Yeates had stayed for one more drink at the Bristol Ram pub, she would be alive today. If Vincent Tabak had left 30 minutes earlier to go to Asda, as was his intention, he would not be standing in the dock now. But, tragically, Joanna did not stay for one last drink and went home, arriving just after 8.30 p.m.

“She contacted several male friends on her way home, and told how she was bored. She texted Samuel Ashcroft: Where are you this fine eve? His reply was Home – sorry. She then texted Peter: Where are you? Peter replied On my way to a wedding. Where are you? She replied: At home – on my tod. She texted a third male friend. She said she was bored and she was looking for company. It was the Christmas period and many people were at parties. He was at an office party and didn’t see her text until later.”

On the evening in question, the bored and lonely defendant had made eye contact with Joanna Yeates as he passed her lighted kitchen window, intending to drive to Asda. They were complete strangers to each other. According to Counsel, she had turned on the oven to bake mince pies, and had beckoned to him to enter the flat. He had hung his black coat on the coat-rack (thus avoiding getting her DNA on it), declined her offer of a drink, and chatted for about 10 minutes. Misreading the situation, he tried to kiss her, putting one arm round her back to draw her closer. When she screamed piercingly and panicked, he put a hand over her mouth, withdrew it, covered her mouth as she screamed again, and put his other hand round her throat. In less than a minute she was dead.

“She took off her coat, she took off her green fleece
that she was wearing under her coat...”
“Joanna went into her flat. She took off her coat, she took off her green fleece that she was wearing under her coat and put it on a chair, she took off her boots and she went into the kitchen.” This was the only time the jury heard any mention of the green fleece. “When in the kitchen she switched on the oven, presumably to pre-heat it before doing the baking she had been researching on the internet earlier and had spoken about to friends. She opened one of the two bottles of cider she had bought at Bargain Booze and maybe had a drink from it. She was bored and lonely. It was the Friday before Christmas and her partner was away. She had told Rebecca from Swansea, who gave evidence the other day, that she was bored, and explored the possibility of travelling to Swansea to see her. The weather ruled it out. She texted three other friends, all in an effort to have some company. So she said she was bored to Rebecca and she was looking for company, as those text messages so clearly tell us. It was the Friday before Christmas, lots of people were out, it was the end of term, and she was home alone.”

“She was alone. In the next flat adjoining hers, with the front door just around the corner, was Vincent Tabak – her neighbour. They had never really met each other before, other than a nod as they would pass in a passage outside their house, a sort of acknowledgement one might give to a neighbour that you recognised but had never really spoken to. Indeed, her cat had had more contact with her neighbours than she had. Vincent Tabak was also home alone and bored. His partner was away and he was, like she was, at a loose end. He decided to go to Asda, not because of any real burning need for anything but as much to fill in time as anything else. Their meeting that night and what followed was unplanned and pure chance. Vincent Tabak left his flat. He was walking towards his car, intending to drive to Asda, when he passed Joanna’s kitchen window. Her blind was up – it always was. It was broken, her boyfriend confirmed. The light in the kitchen was on. Joanna was in there. She looked up and saw Vincent Tabak, her neighbour. He noticed her. There was a nod of acknowledgement between the two and she beckoned for him to re-trace his steps and to come in. Joanna opened up the front door and invited him in.”

He took off his coat and hung it up on the coat rack
which was in her hall.
“The invitation marked an unfortunate starting point for the defence case. All the evidence confirms that he must have been invited in, as there is no question of any forced entry. He went into her flat because she had opened the door and invited him in. He took off his coat and hung it up on the coat rack which was in her hall. She offered him a drink – he declined as he was driving later. They introduced themselves to each other and chatted as neighbours do. She said that her boyfriend was away and she was alone. He said that his girlfriend was away and he was alone.”

“As the two of them talked inside that flat, Vincent Tabak completely misread the situation that he had walked into. Joanna was only being sociable as many neighbours would have been – particularly around Christmas time – but he misread her friendliness towards him and made a move towards her as if he was about to kiss her on the lips. He put one arm behind her back, in the middle of her back to draw her closer to him. She screamed. It was a loud, piercing scream. He panicked. He put a hand over her mouth to stifle the scream and said to her to stop screaming. He apologised and said he was sorry. He took his hand away and she carried on screaming. He panicked. He put one hand around her throat and the other around her mouth. In seconds – far less than a minute – Joanna went limp. She was dead. He never intended to kill her. Nothing had been planned. Nothing was premeditated.”

“It was pure chance that Tabak walked passed Joanna’s kitchen window when she was looking out.” Mr. Clegg explained that the jury would hear from another pathologist to explain how long it may have taken for Joanna to die. “People in a nearby flat heard three screams – not all of them could have come from Joanna Yeates.” Mr. Clegg talking about the timings when Vincent Tabak and Joanna met. “One thing that is clear is that between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, Joanna Yeates was killed.” Astonishingly, Mr. Clegg was contradicting his own client’s account of events, which put the time of Joanna’s death no earlier than 9.30 p.m., after Vincent Tabak had texted his girlfriend.

Speaking of Vincent Tabak, Mr. Clegg told the jury at Bristol Crown Court, “What he did after that won’t be excused by us who defend him. His conduct afterwards was frankly disgusting. He took the body and hid it – thereby causing untold anguish and agony to Joanna’s family, who had no idea what had happened to her, and he did everything to cover his tracks. You wont hear me trying to excuse his conduct. He told lie after lie. You will hear no excuses from me about that. Tabak tried to wriggle out of what he had done. But it doesn’t actually help establish what was going through his mind and what his intention was on the night Joanna died. What he is being tried for is whether, when he killed Joanna Yeates, that was planned and premeditated, and something that he intended to do – or whether he panicked and did it without thinking of the consequences.”

But it was pure chance, he insisted, that his client came to commit this dreadful crime.

According to Mr. Clegg, Vincent Tabak put the front-door on the latch, carried the lifeless body to his own flat, went back to turn off the oven in Joanna’s flat, collected the ski sock and the pizza, stuffed the body into the bicycle bag he used to keep his bicycle dry when it rains, and went out to the road to fetch Tanja’s car and move it round to the private car park for seven cars belonging to the villa. He put the body in the luggage compartment, drove to Asda in Bedminster, then drove to Longwood Lane to dump the body. He tried to heave it over the stone wall, but found it too heavy, so he left it on the verge and heaped leaves around it. Counsel for the Defence alleged that his client had tossed the pizza and the sock into a large street bin on his way home.

Vincent Tabak tried to carry on with life attending dinner parties with his girlfriend, “living a lie”. Mr. Clegg said that it was “frankly disgusting” that Vincent Tabak had tried to hide the body and “did everything he could to cover his tracks. We all know he should have called the police – but he didn’t,” said Mr Clegg. He told the jury that Vincent Tabak was being tried, not for what he did after her death, or for his frankly disgusting efforts to dispose of her body. Mr Clegg said the defendant was being tried for whether he intended to kill her, and whether it was premeditated. He told the jury that he wouldn’t make excuses for Tabak’s actions after Joanna’s death. Concluding his speech, Mr. Clegg claimed that his client knew he must pay the price for his dreadful crime. However, he was being tried, not for his frankly disgusting efforts to dispose of the body, but for the unplanned, unpremeditated action that led to her death.

It is unlikely many other people would accept Mr. Clegg’s scenario. It depends on Tanja’s car having been parked on the road instead of in the private car park beside Vincent Tabak and Tanja Morson’s flat. Neither the defendant nor Mr. Clegg offered an explanation of why it had been parked on the road.

A total of 19 prosecution witnesses testified during the trial, and there were 17 witnesses statements read out in court on behalf of the prosecution. Apart from the defendant himself, Mr. Clegg called only one witness for the defence, and that was the pathologist Nat Cary, whom he had inherited from Crossman’s defence team. He also produced one witness statement from Geoffrey Hardyman.

The defence Counsel did not draw the jury’s attention to the fact that Vincent Tabak had the strongest possible motives not to murder anyone – least of all a neighbour whom he did not know. He had spent most of his life industriously pursuing his education, completing his Ph.D at the age of 28, and not enjoying himself as most people would understand it until he was head-hunted for a good job as an analyst of the movement of crowds in buildings with his employer, global architectural consultancy Buro Happold in Bath (even before he had completed his doctoral thesis), and met his girlfriend, whose love he treasured. The word “motive” was scarcely mentioned at all during the trial.

Mr. Clegg could have presented each of the jurors with a copy of Vincent Tabak's Ph.D thesis by way of “good character evidence”. Had he done so, they would only have had to read the appreciative Preface to realize that there was something not right about this prosecution. The Preface is full of nuanced appreciations of the various different people who contributed to Vincent Tabak’s 5 year research project, including many named individual members of his family. He could have drawn their attention to the sentence referring to Vincent Tabak’s friends in the PhD network within his university faculty, where, less than two years prior to Joanna Yeates’s death, he stated: “I hope we can continue our friendship, even after we have spread all over the world”. The jurors would have seen a completely different side of the man in the dock than the one presented by the silly, humiliating and ultimately disastrous charade through which Mr. Clegg schooled him to go. But Mr. Clegg had accepted an unreported ban on “good character evidence”.

His Defence Counsel could have pointed out that there was no previously known case of someone with a Ph.D murdering a complete stranger without having any motive for doing so. Mr Clegg did not draw the jury’s attention to the fact that Vincent Tabak had never before been in any trouble with the police, had a stable childhood in a loving family, and had no history whatsoever of sudden outbursts, violent rages or attacks on women. Counsel failed to remind the court that his client had told the nurse who examined him after he was arrested that he was normally “happy” and had no previous mental health problems.

Mr. Clegg did not obtain a witness statement from one of Vincent Tabak’s professors at Eindhoven to testify to the defendant’s good character.

Mr. Clegg did not call Christopher Jefferies as witness to testify to the incident of the car in the night. Nor was he called to testify about the two men he had seen with Joanna during the weekend when she was killed. The landlord – the retired school teacher whom the police had arrested at first and then had to release again after three days – was very surprised at Vincent Tabak’s arrest, and in the TV documentary “Murder at Christmas” publicly described him as “thoroughly courteous and civilized”. Why was Christopher Jefferies not called by the defence as a character witness? ’– because (1) Counsel for the Defence had made an unreported deal with the prosecution not to present to the jury any “good character evidence”, and (2) because the truth about the landlord’s sightings on Joanna’s front path would have destroyed the entire case against the defemdant.

Astonishingly, the defence did not call any witnesses at all to support their case – except for the defendant himself. The purpose of Mr. Clegg’s repeated “bad-mouthing” of his own client was to counter-balance the “good character evidence” about which he allowed Vincent Tabak himself meekly and undramatically to tell the jury.

The defendant in the witness box

20th October 2011. During the trial, Vincent Tabak was traumatised to such an extent that he followed religiously the advice of his defence counsel, who had impressed on him before trial the absolute necessity of sticking to the rehearsed lines, and under no circumstances to divert from that prepared story if he was to succeed in getting a manslaughter verdict. The result was that the Judge and the jury wrongly perceived him as a deceitful liar.

Vincent Tabak entered the witness box at 10.10 a.m., and Mr. Clegg began to question his client. The transcript of the first part of this cross-examination was reproduced by law journalist Sally Ramage in Criminal Law News, Issue 39, January 2012.

Mr. Clegg: “Are you a Dutch national?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where did you live in Holland?”

Vincent Tabak: “In Uden.”

Mr. Clegg: “Would you say that Uden is a town, or is it a village?”

Vincent Tabak: “I don't know. Perhaps a village maybe. Its population is only 30,000 inhabitants.”

Mr. Clegg: “How old are you?”

Vincent Tabak: “Thirty-three years old.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you go to school in Uden?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you live there since childhood with your parents?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes. I lives there with my parents, three sisters and a brother.”

Mr. Clegg: “You went to the University of Technology in Utrecht. Did you have to leave home then? Utrecht is about 30 km away.”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes, I lived away. I studied architecture for seven years.”

Mr. Clegg: “What qualifications did you pass?”

Vincent Tabak: “Equivalent to a combined Master Degree in Architecture and Computer Science.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you then obtain employment?”

Vincent Tabak: “No.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do then?”

Vincent Tabak: “I studied for a PhD in people behaviour in the corporate environment.”

Mr. Clegg: “How long did that degree take?”

Vincent Tabak: “It took 4 years to receive my PhD.”

Mr. Clegg: “How old were you then?”

Vincent Tabak: “29 years old.”

Mr. Clegg: “Then you sought employment. Where were you employed?”
Buro Happold’s headquarters in Bath

Vincent Tabak: “My first employment was at Buro Happold in Bath, England.”

Mr. Clegg: “Had you been to England before?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes, on holiday several times.”

Mr. Clegg: “And do you consider that you were fluent in English then?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “When did you begin your employment at Buro Happold in Bath?”

Vincent Tabak: “I began in September 2007.”

Mr. Clegg: “What was your job title at Buro Happold in 2007?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was employed as a people flow analyst.”

Mr. Clegg: “What was your job title in 2010?”

Vincent Tabak: “People flow analyst.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you have any girlfriends whilst at university?”

Vincent Tabak: “No.”

Tanja Morson
Mr. Clegg: “Did you have any girlfriends before Tanja Morson?”

Vincent Tabak: “No.”

Mr. Clegg: “How did you meet Tanja?”

Vincent Tabak: “We met online from a group called Soulmates.”

Mr. Clegg: “When did you first meet Tanja?”

Vincent Tabak: “On 1st November 2008. We moved to 44 Canynge Road in Bristol together in June 2009.”

Mr. Clegg: “Tell me, what is the building, 44 Canynge Road, made of?”

Vincent Tabak: “Stone. Stone is good insulation. You can hardly hear others in the other flats in the building.”

The route to the small garden gate
past Flat 1 at 44 Canynge Road
Mr. Clegg: “When did the other couple move into Flat 1?”

Vincent Tabak: “25th October 2010.”

Mr. Clegg: “When did you leave for Los Angeles?”

Vincent Tabak: “I left for Los Angeles on 14th November and returned on 14th December 2010.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you ever see the couple from Flat 1?”

Vincent Tabak: “I only saw them at the small garden gate.”

Mr. Clegg: “Which route did you normally take to leave the property?”

Vincent Tabak: “Normally I always went to my car via the route past Flat 1.”

Mr. Clegg then established that the defendant didn't wear a watch, that he had not known either Joanna Yeates nor Greg Reardon, and that it was while he was in Los Angeles that their cat came into Flat 2.

Mr. Clegg: “Do you and Tanja often communicate every day?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes, Tanja and I constantly emailed, telephoned and texted several times a day, including all the time I was in Los Angeles, USA.”

The Defence Timeline for Friday 17th

The defendant was then handed an unmarked copy of the Defence team’s own timeline chart for Friday 17th December 2010. Counsel asked him to turn to entries 6 and 7, incoming text message “Love you”, at 7.35 a.m. and reply “Love you too. Pretty snow”, at 7.40 a.m. Counsel asked him to turn to entry 11, “seen past the flat at 9.05 a.m. where Tanja had already left for work in a lift-share”.

Mr. Clegg: “What time do you leave for work?”

Vincent Tabak: “9.00 a.m.”

Mr. Clegg: “Do you always access weather reports on the Internet?”

Vincent Tabak: “I always access the Internet for weather reports, even whilst in Los Angeles. I had my computers set up for that.”

Counsel asked the defendant to look at his movements for Friday 17th December 2010: (entry 11) left for work; (12) cycled to Bristol Temple Meads Station; (13) train to Bath; (16) arrive Bath 9.41 a.m.; (17) accessed Internet for weather – at work; (18 & 19) accessed weather report; (20, 21) telephone calls to Tanja.

Pilgrims at the Holy Mosque in Mecca
Mr. Clegg: “What project were you working at on 17th December 2010?”

Vincent Tabak: “I had been working on a very big project – a Holy Mosque in Mecca. I was doing some analysis on it – the flow of pilgrims to the Holy Mosque. This was a project that Buro Happold was tendering for.”

Counsel asked the defendant to continue looking at the timeline: (entry 27) telephone call; (28) text message to Tanja and reply at 4.00 p.m.; (29) much longer telephone call at 4.23 p.m. (30) Internet use at home; Tanja used the laptop; the defendant was still at work; (31) Vincent Tabak texted girlfriend Tanja, “How are you? Getting ready for party?” (37) Vincent Tabak leaves his workplace; (45) journey home; 6.54 p.m. at Constitution Hill; home just after 7 p.m., by which time Tanja had already left; text message to Tanja, “Just got home”.

Mr. Clegg: “Did you remain at home or did you go out?”

Vincent Tabak: “I went out. I sent Tanja a text message after I returned. Just after 7.15 p.m. I had gone for a quick walk to take pictures of the snow. I left by the small garden gate to Bristol Road, then returned. I didn’t take any photos – the snow was dirty. At 7.25 p.m., after I had returned, I accessed my bank account via Internet until 7.37 p.m.”

Mr. Clegg: “Can we just put the timeline to one side? What did you do after 7.37 p.m.?”

Vincent Tabak: “I drank a beer. I watched TV – I cannot remember what. I had supper – a ready-made pizza. Then I decided to go out again.”

Mr. Clegg: “Why?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was lonely, bored, so decided to drive to the big Asda in Bedminster to buy myself some treats.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where was your car parked?”

Vincent Tabak: “My car was parked on the street.”

Mr. Clegg: “Without any help from the timeline, are you able to say what time it was you decided to go to Asda?”

Vincent Tabak: “No.”

Mr. Clegg: “Look at our timeline chart again, no.76. Jo Yeates did not get back to her flat until 8.37 p.m. or thereabouts. Timeline 39: you ultimately went to Asda at approximately 10.13 p.m. Can you help by telling at what time you believe you went to Asda?”

Vincent Tabak: “No, not exactly.”

Mr. Clegg: “Can you look at the item where you sent a text message to Tanja, ‘missing you’? Can you remember if you sent it before you decided to go to Asda? Recapping – you came off the Internet at 7.37 p.m. (our entry 47), and remain in your flat until 9.29 p.m. (our entry 88). How soon after that did you leave your flat? Did you normally take the phone when you went out?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “When at home, where was the phone kept?”

Vincent Tabak: “In a little room.”

She invited him in

Vincent Tabak claimed his neighbour Joanna Yeates had invited him into Flat 1, 44 Canynge Road, when she saw him passing her kitchen window on 17th December 2010 some time after 9.25pm. Mr. Clegg asked the defendant about what happened in Joanna Yeates’s flat.

The door to Joanna Yeates’s flat,
as it was when the jurors visited 44 Canynge Road
Mr. Clegg: “Did she open the door?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you take off your coat?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “What room did you go into?”

Vincent Tabak; “The kitchen – both of us.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you talk about?”

Vincent Tabak: “We talked about the fact that my girlfriend was away at her Christmas party, that I felt a bit lonely and a bit bored. Ms Yeates made a comment about the fact that Greg her boyfriend was also away that evening, and she was also bored at home. 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’. We talked about Los Angeles. I had just come back from there. I said it was good fun – lots of sun – and that I was quite lonely without Tanja.”

The kitchen of Joanna Yeates’s flat,
as it was when the jurors and the press visited the flat
Mr. Clegg asked: “How long do you think the two of you spoke in her flat?”

Vincent Tabak replied: “Roughly ten minutes.”

Mr. Clegg continued: “Did you decide to do anything?”

Vincent Tabak replied: “Yes I did.”

Mr. Clegg again prompted: “What did you decide to do?”

Vincent Tabak (tearfully), after a pause: “I decided to make a pass at her. I thought I got the impression she wanted to kiss me.”

Joanna Yeates with her cat
Mr. Clegg: “Did you think she would respond?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did she offer you a drink?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes. I declined.”

Mr. Clegg: “Doing as best you can, describe to the Court exactly what you did.”

Vincent Tabak: “I put my hand in the small of her back and went to kiss her.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you kiss her?”

Vincent Tabak: “No-o-o-o.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did she do?”

Vincent Tabak: “She started to scream quite loudly.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you say?”

Vincent Tabak: “‘I’m sorry. Please stop.’ I kept my hand to her mouth.”

Mr. Clegg: “When you took your hand away what happened?”

Vincent Tabak: “She continued to scream.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do then?”

Vincent Tabak: “I put my hand round her neck. I panicked.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did Joanna do?”

Vincent Tabak: “Nothing at all.”

Mr. Clegg: “Why did you put your hand around her neck?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was just trying to stop her screaming – to calm her down.”

Mr Clegg: “Did you intend to kill her?

Vincent Tabak: “No, definitely not.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you intend to cause her really serious harm?”

Vincent Tabak: “No, definitely not. I had no intention of harming her in any way. I was just trying to calm her down to stop her screaming.”

Mr Clegg then got his client to close his eyes: “How long did you keep your hand there?”

Vincent Tabak: “Only for a short time.” The defendant claimed it was around 15 seconds.

Mr. Clegg: “I will tell you to start to remember what you did and when you took your hand away from Joanna’s neck. Now. When you took your hand away, what did she do?”

Vincent Tabak: “She went limp and fell.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did she hit herself as she fell?”

Vincent Tabak: “I can't remember. I was still in a state of panic.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do?”

Joanna Yeates’s bedroom
Vincent Tabak: “I put her on her bed in her bedroom.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where did you go?”

Vincent Tabak: “I went back to my flat.”

Mr. Clegg: “How did you leave her door?”

Vincent Tabak: “Open.”

Mr. Clegg: “How long were you in your flat?”

Vincent Tabak: “Only a couple of minutes maybe.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where did you go then?”

Vincent Tabak: “I went back to Joanna’s flat.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do?”

Vincent Tabajk: “I was hoping she was alive, but clearly she wasn’t”

Moving the body

Mr. Clegg: “Accepting that she was dead, what did you do?”

Vincent Tabak: “After a couple of minutes, I lifted the body and carried it over to my flat.”

Mr. Clegg: “Your hand being on what part of her body?”

Vincent Tabak: “One arm was underneath her knees.”

Mr. Clegg: “Were you able to carry her to your flat?”

Vincent Tabak: “No, she was too heavy. I tried again.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where did you take her body?”

Vincent Tabak: “To my flat.” He told the court that he had laid Joanna’s body in the hallway of his flat, then in the spare room.

Mr. Clegg: “Did you leave Joanna’s door shut or open?”

Vincent Tabak: “Open.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do next?”

Vincent Tabak: “I decided to put her body in my bicycle cover.”

Mr. Clegg: “Was it your bicycle cover or Tanjas?”

Vincent Tabak: “No, it was mine.”

Mr. Clegg: “How easy was it to put the body in the bicycle cover?”

Vincent Tabak: “Very difficult, but eventually I did it.”

Mr. Clegg: “Why did you put her body in the bicycle cover?”

Vincent Tabak: “I didn't want anyone to find out, and I put the body in my car.”

Mr. Clegg: “Was Joanna’s door still open?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “After you put the body in the boot of your car, what did you do next?”

Vincent Tabak: “I went back to Joanna’s flat and switched off the TV and the oven. I took away the sock and the pizza.” He claimed the sock had come off when he moved her body.

Mr. Clegg: “Why did you take the pizza and sock?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was not thinking straight.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where did you take the pizza and sock?”

Vincent Tabak: “In my car.”

Mr. Clegg: “You decided to take the body away. How were you going to do that?”

Vincent Tabak: “In the car.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where was the car?”

Vincent Tabak: “On the street.”

Mr. Clegg: “Then you took the body out to the street?”

Vincent Tabak: “No, I backed the car into the drive.”

Mr. Clegg: “Was the car facing Canynge Road?”

Vincent Tabak: “No. The back of the car was facing Canynge Road.”

Mr. Clegg: “Then what did you do?”

Vincent Tabak: “I went back to my flat.”

Mr. Clegg: “Then what did you do?”

Vincent Tabak: “I put the body into the car.”

Mr. Clegg: “Was it easy to put the body into the car?”

Vincent Tabak: “No.”

Mr. Clegg: “How many attempts did you make a placing the body into the boot of the car?”

Vincent Tabak: “I think, two.”

Mr. Clegg: “Then when you put the body into the boot of the car, what did you do?”

Vincent Tabak: “I went into the car.”

Mr. Clegg: “Look at our timeline 89. Did you drive with the body in the boot of your car?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “Look at our timeline 90 to 96. Why did you go to the Asda supermarket?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was not thinking straight. I think I took upon my original plan to go to Asda.”

Mr. Clegg: “At our timeline 100, you sent a text message to Tanja, ‘How are you? I am at Asda. Buying some crisis.’ How did you feel?”

Vincent Tabak: “I just wanted to hear her voice, to get support and comfort.”

Mr. Clegg: “As we can see, you sent many messages. You never making typing errors. Why did you type the word ‘crisis’?”

Vincent Tabak: “That’s how I felt. I was in complete shock. Didn't know what to do.”

Mr. Clegg: “In our timeline 108 to 111 – a journey that would take you home. Is that where you went? As the timeline suggests?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “In our timeline 113, when your car is seen at Clifton Down – after a period of 20 minutes or so – how did you feel?”

Vincent Tabak: “In a state of despair. Panic. Unbelief at what had happened.”

Mr. Clegg: “When you left, where did you drive then?”

Vincent Tabak: “I drove away from home. I drove in the direction of the Airport, and ended up in Longwood Lane.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you know Longwood Lane at all?”

Vincent Tabak: “No.”

Mr. Clegg: “Was it a quiet area, did you think? What did you decide to do?”

Vincent Tabak: “I did something horrendous. I decided to leave her there.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did you park your car?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do then?”

Vincent Tabak: “I took the body out of the boot.”

Mr. Clegg: “Having got it out of the boot, what did you do with the cover?”

Vincent Tabak: “I put the cover eventually back into the car.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did the cover become inverted?”

Vincent Tabak: “I can’t remember.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do then?”

Vincent Tabak: “I tried to hide the body. I tried to put the body over the fence.”

Mr. Clegg: “Were you able to?”

Vincent Tabak: “No, the body was too heavy.”

Mr. Clegg: “Did the body come into contact with the wall?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes, but she was too heavy.”

Mr. Clegg: “Part of her breast was exposed. How did this happen?”

Vincent Tabak: “Perhaps when carrying her body.”

Mr. Clegg: “Your DNA was found on the breast of the body. How did that come about?”

Vincent Tabak: “I think, as I was trying to put the body over the wall.”

Mr. Clegg: “There were many marks on her body. How did that happen?”

Vincent Tabak: “I at first left her by the roadside, and two or three cars drove past, and I was in a state of complete panic. I’m sorry for doing that. I put her parents through hell. I’m so sorry for that. I can’t believe that I did that.”

Mr. Clegg: “How were you feeling then?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was exhausted at carrying the body. My body was in a state of sweat. I took off my black jacket.”

Mr. Clegg: “How did you hide the body?”

Vincent Tabak: “I put leaves over it.”

Mr. Clegg: “Our timeline 113 – your car was seen on the road and so you must have reached your flat around 10 minutes past midnight. At 18 minutes past, we can see on the timeline a text from you to Tanja, ‘Are you on the bus?’ Then your landline call to Tanja. What did you do?”

Vincent Tabak: “I realise that I still had the bicycle cover in my car and the pizza and sock in my flat.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you decide to do?”

Vincent Tabak: “I decide to dispose of them.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do then?”

Vincent Tabak: “I remembered that there were some disposal containers on the road in Clifton.”

Mr. Clegg: “What colour were these containers?”

Vincent Tabak: “Green, I think.”

Mr. Clegg: “Were they on wheels?”

Vincent Tabak: “I can’t remember.”

Mr. Clegg: “Were they private or Council containers?”

Vincent Tabak: “I don’t know.”

Mr. Clegg: “Why were you researching about rubbish?”

Vincent Tabak: “I read that police were sifting through rubbish, and I was afraid they would find the pizza.”

Mr. Clegg: “Then what did you do?”

Vincent Tabak: “I went back home.”

Mr. Clegg: “Tanja phoned on the landline. Why did you go for Tanja in the car?”

Vincent Tabak: “I didn’t want her to walk home in the cold.”

Mr. Clegg: “You were on the Internet later. Why did you do that? Constant contact with Tanja by phone. At 1.38 a.m., 18th December, you were leaving again in the hatchback. Is this to collect Tanja from the coach?”

Park Street, with the Bristol Ram pub, where Joanna
had been drinking with friends, on the right
Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “We can see the journey to collect her. We can see you turn right at Park Street into a lane that does not lead anywhere. Two minutes later you come out. Why did you go there?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was not paying attention to where I was going, so I took a wrong turning, and then to Park Street.”

Mr. Clegg: “We can see the video of you going out of Park Street. Then you made a call to Tanja. That was to ask her directions as to where to collect her?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “We can see that you travelled to a burger bar. Why did you go there?”

Vincent Tabak: “Tanja was hungry. She wanted something to eat.”

Mr. Clegg: “Was it eaten there, or in the car?”

Vincent Tabak: “In the car.”

Mr. Clegg: “After you got home, did you tell Tanja what happened?”

Vincent Tabak: “No.”

The judge, Mr. Justice Field, called for a 15 minute break.

Mr. Clegg: “You and Tanja continued living at Flat 2. How did you manage?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was drinking a lot of alcohol and doing a lot of Internet research.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you think would happen?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was sure I would be arrested. Tanja kept me going. Can I say that I am really sorry for being responsible for her death? I am really sorry for putting her parents through all that worry in that week before she was found.”

Mr. Clegg: “You went with Tanja and stayed with her parents in Cambridge?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “And you went to Holland over Christmas?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “Then in Holland the English police took your DNA. What did you think would happen?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was thinking I would be arrested any time.”

Mr. Clegg: “Do you know what DNA is?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you think if they found DNA on Joanna?”

Vincent Tabak: “A sure match.”

Mr. Clegg: “What did you do in the days before the police arrested you?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was drinking very large amounts of vodka. I was taking herbal sleeping tablets.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where you eating?”

Vincent Tabak: “Hardly. I think I lost 7 kg during that time before my arrest.”

Mr. Clegg: “When you were taken to prison, you were on what they call ‘suicide watch’. How did you feel?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was in a state of total despair. I didn't know what to do. But I just hung on. I decided not to do anything.”

Mr. Clegg: “Were you in despair at any other time?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes – when the papers reported that police found DNA on Joanna’s body. I was drinking serious amounts of alcohol.”

Mr. Clegg: “When you were arrested, on 20th January 2011, you were put in contact with a duty solicitor. It was somebody you had never met before, is that correct?”

Vincent Tabak: “Yes.”

Mr. Clegg: “You never answered any of the police questions, except about the telephone calls. Why was that?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was following the advice of my solicitor, who told me not to say anything at all.”

Mr. Clegg: “In your first statement, you lied. Why did you lie?”

Vincent Tabak: “I was hoping that they didn’t have enough evidence, and I was hoping they would let me go.”

Mr. Clegg: “When did you realise that they had enough evidence?”

Vincent Tabak: “When I learnt that they had found DNA on the body.”

Mr. Clegg: “You met Brotherton and told him what you did. Did you want to kill Joanna?”

Vincent Tabak: “No, definitely not.”

Counsel failed to ask the defendant how the body came to be lying in a foetal position, and failed to ask why he should have headed in the direction of Bristol Airport.

21st October 2011:

Mr. Clegg: “Did you yourself have any injuries when you went to bed after the killing?”

Vincent Tabak: “None that I can remember.”

Mr. Clegg: “What was the exact time you had your hands around Joanna’s throat?”

Vincent Tabak: “I can’t remember.”

Mr. Clegg: “Where in the flat did she fall?”

Vincent Tabak: “I can’t remember.”

Mr. Clegg: “Is there any truth in the suggestions that you wanted to sexually assault Joanna?”

Vincent Tabak: “No – I thought she wanted to kiss me.”

Mr Clegg: “I am going through your defence statement. I want you to tell me whether it is true.”

Vincent Tabak: “It is.”

Mr. Clegg: “Whose decision was the amount of detail in the statement? – yours or the lawyers’?”

Vincent Tabak: “The lawyers”.

Mr. Clegg: “Did you intend to kill Joanna Yeates?”

Vincent Tabak: “No, I didn’t”

The defence’s pathologist

Dr. Nathaniel Cary
The defence’s pathologist Dr. Nathaniel Cary entered the witness box and was cross-examined by Mr Clegg.

Mr. Clegg asked Dr Cary whether he thought that Joanna Yeates had been sexually assaulted.

Dr. Cary replied that there was no evidence to suggest this. It is not impossible for sexual assault to occur and leave no marks. But the fact that Joanna Yeates’s clothing was found on her body suggested she had not sustained a serious sexual attack, he added. Dr Cary said he thought the most likely explanation for Joanna Yeates’s top riding up and exposing her bra would be during the attempts by her killer to dump her body over a wall in Longwood Lane - something Vincent Tabak himself maintained was correct - rather than any sexual motivation, as suggested by the prosecution.

Mr. Clegg asked Dr. Cary about the significance of the lack of injury to Joanna Yeates’s private parts. He failed to cross-examine Dr. Cary about the size of the breast-cups and the design of the victim’s bra, which would have helped the jury understand whether the riding up of the bra to expose her right breast was most likely to have arisen from the failed effort to lift the body over the wall or from sexually-motivated groping.

Dr. Cary answered: “It means at the end of the day the suggestion this is a primarily sexually motivated attack is largely speculative.”

Mr. Clegg asked the pathologist whether asphyxiation could form part of a sexually motivated attack

Dr Cary replied, “There are some people, probably a pretty small number in the population, who become sexually aroused by asphyxiating someone,” he told the jury. “It is fair to say there are some people who become sexually aroused being asphyxiated.”

Both Mr. Clegg and Dr. Cary omitted to attach the crucial qualifying phrase “during sexual intercourse”. With this exchange, both Counsel for the Defence and his independent expert witness sought to further the prosecution’s case by planting in the minds of the jury an illusory motive unsubstantiated by any testimony under oath from anyone who knew the defendant. The nature of Mr. Clegg’s question suggests that he had Daniel Lancaster’s manslaughter defence very much in mind.

Mr. Clegg asked Dr. Cary if he endorsed the testimony by the Home Office pathologist that the victim could have been killed inside as little as 10 seconds of compression to the neck using moderate force.

Dr. Cary replied that he did not fundamentally disagree with Dr. Delaney on this point, because it is difficult to put a time on it. “Although I would say a bit longer than 10 seconds in order to see the nature and extent of changes present here. And that’s why I would probably opt for something in the region of 20 seconds. But I would readily accept it is an incredibly inexact science.”

Dr. Cary said the medical evidence suggested Miss Yeates suffered a fairly short one-handed neck compression, possibly as short as ten seconds, and cause of death could have been attributable to a sudden stopping of the heart. He explained that compression to areas in the neck can slow and stop the heart. “Compression of the neck can kill you a lot quicker than it takes to run out of air”. Dr. Cary would have expected more bruising if two hands had been used. Injuries were consistent with one hand being used.

The court was again shown a close-up photo of Joanna’s face. Dr Cary stated that it was “virtually uninjured”. It looked as if Joanna had not been subjected to “blunt force” assault, he added. Dr Cary thought that the redness on Joanna’s nose had been caused when her body froze and her skin was damaged.

The court was shown a photo of an abrasion over Joanna’s lip. Dr Cary thought that this could have been caused by a fall – or by a hand held over her mouth.

The pathologist explained that several injuries can be caused by the same act. He told the court that  he had found a fracture of the cartilage of Joanna’s voice box, which was not found in first post-mortem examination.

The court was shown photos of an injury on the left side of Joanna’s collar bone, and of marks on the back of her neck. Dr. Cary said that the latter were made by finger nails. He said there was no evidence of Miss Yeates’s clawing at her neck when she was strangled, but simply marks made by the finger nails of her attacker.

Photos of injuries on Joanna’s “trunk” were displayed. Dr. Cary thought that they could be “grappling” injuries, or could have resulted from a fall. He told the jury that a graze on her right breast could have been caused by her clothes lifting up when she was moved. Injuries to Joanna’s chest could be from when the body was moved, as they appeared to have been caused after death, he added.

Dr. Cary said that many of the injuries found on her body were minor, and there was no evidence of a violent assault to her torso. He said he was unable to discern if some of the abrasions were caused before or after death.

Mr. Clegg asked Dr. Cary whether marks seen on a photo of Joanna’s right arm were caused by its being gripped. The pathologist agreed.

The jury were shown a photo of a clear mark on Joanna’s right wrist. This was incurred while she was still alive, according to Dr. Cary.

The court adjourned for lunch. Dr. Cary returned to the witness stand, and the court was shown photos of Joanna’s left arm. There were bruises on her left-hand, which could have occurred either during the “incident”, or when her body was being moved, he said.

The marks seen in a photo of her ankle could have resulted from her body freezing and then thawing out, he said.

Dr. Cary explained that some victims of strangulation may cause themselves injuries while trying to escape their killer’s grip. There were no such injuries on Joanna’s body, however.

Mr. Clegg failed to cross-examine either pathologist about the state of Joanna Yeates’s bladder and whether urine was found in her briefs or her jeans. Since her walk home from the party at the Bristol Ram pub in freezing conditions had taken her 50 minutes, the presence of urine would have been evidence that she was strangled before reaching home, while its absence would have been evidence that she was strangled after reaching home.

The closing speech for the Defence

25th October 2011. Vincent Tabak’s defence counsel William Clegg opened his concluding speech with the astonishing statement that “I am not going to ask you to like Vincent Tabak. Frankly there is nothing to like. I’m not going to ask you for sympathy – he does not deserve any. If we set out to win a popularity contest we would lose – and rightly so”. Why did Ian Kelcey instruct a Defence Counsel who was incapable of establishing the rapport necessary to defend Vincent Tabak, or of understanding what made him tick and why other people found things to like about him? With a defence counsel like that, who needs a prosecutor? Since most of those who had known Vincent Tabak for any length of time found him likeable, why did instructing solicitor Ian Kelcey not choose a defence barrister who was able to appreciate his client’s personality and professional skills? Was it because each of the defence lawyers was chosen by the Chief Constable?

“There is only one thing I can ask from you – a verdict that reflects what you have heard in this court. Nothing more, nothing less.” Mr Clegg forcefully attacked some (but not all) of the holes in the prosecution’s case against the defendant – claiming they had speculated on many things without any material evidence.

William Clegg QC insisted that his client’s inability to remember vital moments of the struggle which led up to the landscape architect’s death were as a result of trauma. He claimed Tabak could not have had the premeditation to murder – branding the December 17th attack as a “few seconds of madness”. He insisted that the Dutchman’s “disgusting” behaviour after killing Jo should not take gloss off the real issue – whether he had intent to kill her or cause serious injury. “I’m not going to ask you to excuse his conduct after the killing – there can be no excuse.

Mr. Clegg said that the key question is whether Joanna invited Tabak in - and whether the prosecution had proved that she didn’t. “No one could have planned to kill her that evening because no one knew where she was going to be. The Prosecution tried to suggest Tabak was out in Clifton that night and saw Jo Yeates arrive home. There is no evidence of that. Vincent Tabak went in to her flat because Joanna Yeates had let him in.” Mr. Clegg said that the prosecution were trying to give the impression that Tabak knew Joanna had returned home. But there is not a shred of evidence that Tabak saw, heard or knew Jo Yeates was home. It was all a desperate attempt to prove that he knew it. The Prosecution’s case was theories, not evidence to show Tabak knew Joanna Yeates was at home. Mr Clegg said that there is not a “scrap of evidence” that Tabak knew Joanna was home, and suggestions that he did know made by the prosecution were desperate. There was no evidence to disprove the proposition that Joanna had invited Tabak into her flat. This was a fatal blow to the Prosecution.

He described the 15 to 30 second attack on Joanna as “a few seconds of madness” and claimed he did not premeditate the murder. Mr. Clegg claimed that Joanna’s death had been the result of a heart-attack, and that without it, the compression of her neck would not have been sufficient to kill her. Mr. Clegg failed to point out to the jury that they had not heard any independent evidence at all of the defendant’s behaviour prior to the killing, which could have indicated the state of mind of a person who might or might not be planning a crime. They had heard a lot of prosecution evidence, on the other hand, for the defendant’s behaviour after the killing - evidence which by its very nature could reveal nothing about his intentions. This too he failed to point out.

Mr Clegg said: “Of course his behaviour afterwards was disgusting. It is not going to be justified by me. But it does not alter what was in his mind at the time it happened. Afterwards he was looking to get away with it altogether. You won’t get me defending that sort of conduct. But it does not alter what really did happen. That is what you must focus on. Afterwards he tried to lie his way out of it all. It does not help you very much about what happened in that flat, does it? - Because that is what this case ultimately depends on - Those few moments when the two of them were alone in that small flat in Clifton.”

Had Counsel for the Defence not entered into an unreported agreement to prevent the jury from hearing independent evidence of Vincent Tabak’s good character, the twelve men and women would have realized that his doing anything “disgusting” was improbable and totally out of character.

Mr. Clegg said that the second crucial suggestion was that this was a sexually motivated attack. The Prosecution had claimed that this was a sexually-motivated murder. Where is their evidence for that? Mr Clegg said that there is no evidence that the attack was sexually motivated, and pointed out that Vincent Tabak and Joanna Yeates had hardly seen each other before 17th December 2010.

Counsel for the Defence told the jury that there is no evidence to show it was a pre-planned sexually-motivated killing. The theory of sex as a motive for the attack, as Dr. Nat Cary had pointed out, was pure speculation. Mr. Clegg reminded the jury that Joanna’s lower clothes were in place. “She was never interfered with,” said Mr. Clegg. He said that Joanna’s bra being pulled up was consistent with her body being moved. Her T-shirt was loose and would have easily been “rucked up. There was no question of the clasp at the back of the bra being undone.”

“We invite you to reject the suggestion that this was a sexually motivated attack,” said Mr. Clegg. He added that the evidence shows that the killing was not premeditated nor was it sexually motivated. Mr. Clegg said that the evidence shows the prosecution case to be “sadly lacking” from what it set out to prove. But he failed his client completely by not reminding the jury that murder is such a serious crime that they should reject the charge on the grounds that the prosecution had not demonstrated any credible motive.

Mr. Clegg said that the fact that Joanna had printed off a recipe supports Vincent Tabak’s claim that she was in the kitchen when he passed the window. Mr. Clegg says Joanna took off her apron and put it by the door when she opened it to let Tabak in.

Mr Clegg told the jury that the expert evidence favoured Vincent Tabak’s version of when Joanna was killed, although the exact time of death is unknown.

Mr Clegg then addressed the screams heard by neighbours: “Can you be sure that was Joanna?” Mr Clegg said that people’s perceptions can be altered when they realise someone has disappeared. Mr Clegg said that eye witnesses initially thought the screams were from students - and that the man who lived in flat above heard nothing. That the evidence of the screams was consistent with Joanna’s being strangled at about 8.45 p.m. inside a car opposite No. 53 Canynge Road did not suit Counsel for the Defence at all, so he failed to suggest it to the jury.

He told the jury: “Some of you may have had the experience of being involved in the incident of a car crash or knows someone who has. It is not unusual for someone in recalling the detail of some traumatic event that takes place in a very short period of time to suffer memory lapse. The human brain reacts in different ways to trauma and stress and it would have been easy for Mr Tabak to claim that he could not remember how these bruises were caused.” Mr. Clegg knew very well that the only way to save his client from the jury was to convince them that some of those injuries could have been caused, not by the defendant, but by the victim’s boyfriend in a jealous squabble. But he didn’t.

Mr Clegg asked the jury to consider whether they were sure that the prosecution had been able to prove Tabak’s guilt.

The nature of Mr. Clegg’s defence was the biggest of the elephants in the courtroom that no one wanted to talk about. Counsel deliberately lost the case for his client by his failure to dispose of two fatal issues that suggested deliberation and intent to kill – the numerous bruises on the body, and the state of disorder in the flat to which Joanna’s boyfriend had testified. He had made no attempt to discredit Greg Reardon, as he could have done when he was in the witness-box, by suggesting that he was a jealous boyfriend who was at least partly responsible for Joanna’s injuries, and that he had himself invented, or was himself responsible for, the disorder in the flat subsequent to the early news conferences, to misrepresent it in court as a violent sex attack. He failed to cross-examine most of the prosecution’s witnesses altogether, either to discredit them or to elicit the truth. When he did cross-examine a prosecution witness, it was to reinforce their testimony. He failed, furthermore, to call any independent witnesses to testify to the defendant’s irreproachible character, which was of enormous signfiicance for this particular defendant.


28th October 2011. After sentence was passed, the judge conceded to the applications by barrister Adam Wolanski on behalf of four news media, and two other news media separately, to publish details of the so-called “bad character evidence”. Mr. Clegg failed to protest to the judge that it is illegal for private and confidential material of this kind gathered in the course of a criminal investigation to be disclosed to third parties without consent.

Why was Vincent Tabak not protected by his Counsel against the kind of massive public assault on his character that the media carried out after he had been convicted?

After the trial, on 1st November 2011, the media reported an anonymous police spokesman’s potentially slanderous allegations that illegal child pornographic images had been found on Vincent Tabak’s computer, but that no action was likely. Why did his Defence Counsel not move to protect his client against these damaging allegations by insisting that the police substantiate or refute them? If these images really existed, why were they not submitted to the jury as evidence of his bad character?

From Law Society Gazette, Thursday 03 November 2011 – by Catherine Baksi:
According to Ian Kelcey, “The judge conducted the case impeccably. Tabak can have no complaints about the fairness of the process.”

Jonathan Corke, The daily Star, 12th February 2012:
... But the biggest bill, which sources say could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, has yet to be settled. The Legal Services Commission (LSC), which pays out legal aid, has received a claim for work carried out at Tabak’s trial by Kelcey Hall Solicitors. The firm’s partner, Ian Kelcey, led Tabak’s defence team and commands a huge wage. And his QC, William Clegg, is one of the UK’s top barristers...

A legal source said: “You are looking at an enormous bill. The defence costs at the trial of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr which lasted six weeks were more than £1.3 million. Tabak’s won’t be in that region but it will be a considerable sum of money.”
Richard Shand, of the LSC, said the amount of Tabak’s legal aid would eventually be made public. He said: “Anyone facing a crown court trial can apply for legal aid. This ensures these often complex trials are heard thoroughly and fairly.

Legal Services Commission FoI, 17th July 2012:
The LSC paid a total of £161,410.49 to Kelcey & Hall in relation to Vincent Tabak’s trial at the Crown Court. This can be broken down as £146,620.18 in litigation fees and £14,790.31 in disbursement costs. The LSC also paid £84,671.14 in advocacy costs.