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.

Joanna Yeates loved and died

I was quite annoyed that I had not been told what her plans were

- The boyfriend, 18th October 2011 

Joanna Clare Yeates was born in Southampton, Hampshire, on 19th April 1985, the second child of David Yeates & Teresa Yeates (née Troake). Her uncle Peter Yeates, an officer with Dorset Police, was her godfather (but this would not become known publicly until 2013). Blue-eyed Joanna attended the private boarding school Embley Park in Romsey. She went on to Peter Symonds College in nearby Winchester for A-levels in art, biology and geography. It was here she struck up a close friendship with Rebecca Scott, who was also studying biology. Joanna then studied landscape design and horticulture for three years at Writtle agricultural college in Chelmsford, Essex, where she lived with Londoner Emma Brooks. They became good friends.

After completing her degree course in Essex, Joanna got a job at Hyland Edgar Driver, in Colden Common, near Winchester. In September 2008 she changed jobs to work for the Bristol studio of Building Design Partnership at 7 Hill Street. Nothing said publicly by her family or friends, nor anything said in court, indicates that she ever met Vincent Tabak socially or in connection with her work. However, according to The Sun, 21st January 2011: “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.’”

Keith Pavey (photo: BDP)
A sporty young woman, she practised surfing, biking, rowing and snowboarding.  She was left-handed, and she kept a diary, though the police have never revealed whether they learnt anything from it. BDS’s director Keith Pavey said of her, “She is a highly valued and popular member of staff. She is always bright and cheerful and a great team player.” Joanna Yeates was known to be a normally very sociable “effervescent” person, with a substantial social circle of men and women friends, including some ex-boyfriends. According to her mother (The Mail, 8th January 2011), she would never have two boyfriends at the same time, as she had a moral conscience. When she broke up with a boyfriend, they would always stay friends afterwards. Joanna also liked to test each of her boyfriends, and would always challenge him to an arm wrestle as a sort of initiation.

Joanna’s elder brother Chris Yeates (28 years old in 2011) is married to Russian-born Alla RitchHe was a pupil at King Edward VI School in Southampton. Among his friends there was Matthew Wood, who went on to study chemistry and physics, and moved to Bristol in 2000, where he researched his Ph.D in electrodeposition and surface roughness analysis at the University Physics Department. According to The Mail (11th January 2011), he works for an environmental science charity. Matthew was one of the few people whom Joanna already knew there when she first moved to Bristol herself.

Joanna Yeates with her
boyfriend Greg Reardon
Joanna Yeates met her boyfriend Greg Reardon (who had also worked for Hyland Edgar Driver) at the BDP studios in the centre of Bristol, where he too has worked. Their first date was on 11th December 2008. The first time that her best friend Rebecca Scott met Greg was when they celebrated Joanna’s birthday in April 2009. Towards the end of 2009 the couple acquired a very young kitten, which they named Bernard. When Rebecca heard about the cat, she “knew it was the real deal with her and Greg. They were in it for the long term.”

It was during 2009 that Joanna’s godfather Det Sgt Peter Yeates began stealing mobile telephones and other electronic appliances from his employer Dorset Police, and selling them. Three years would pass before his abuse of trust was detected and punished.

David Booth (from ITN video)
Joanna enrolled for the postgraduate Masters Course in Landscape Architecture at the Department of Natural and Social Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, Clegg Building, Cheltenham, in the autumn of 2009. Her youthful tutor was David Booth, Postgraduate Programme Director for Landscape & Environment Courses.

Christopher Jefferies
Joanna and Greg were living together in the Bristol suburb of Westbury Park when they responded to a to-let advertisement for the smaller of the two ground-floor flats at 44 Canynge Road, Clifton, Bristol, on the day the advert appeared. They moved in on 25th October 2010. They rented the flat, which was valued at about £200,000, for £725 per month from the landlord Christopher Jefferies, who lived in a flat on the first floor. Was it a coincidence that three of the four professional people now living in the two basement flats were in architecture? Unattributed allegations would subsequently be made that Mr. Jefferies had a habit of snooping on his tenants and using his keys to enter their flats without prior agreement. These allegations suggest that the landlord already had grounds for concern that a potentially disastrous situation was developing on the ground floor.

Joanna with her Master’s project
On 9th November 2010, Joanna and Greg took a delivery of furniture they had ordered, driven to their flat for IKEA by James Crozier and James Alexander. Joanna was awarded her Master’s degree in landscape and environment from the University of Gloucestershire on 19th November 2010. She was 5 ft 4 in tall and had recently cut her blonde hair short. This may have been the occasion when she caught the eye of some influential older man, with whom she may have embarked on a relationship that led to her death.

The clouds gather

During the week before the week of her death, she had been suffering from really bad headaches. On Thursday, 16th December, 2010, Joanna took a day’s sick leave. This was allegedly because of a cold, but this could have been an excuse for something connected in some way with her killing. No medical evidence of her prior health was produced in court, neither to show that she was fit and healthy, nor to show that she suffered from a physical weakness that might have made her unexpectedly vulnerable.
  • Premenstrual tension.  If Joanna had been having her period about the time of her death, this could have had a significant influence on her boyfriend’s behaviour towards her and also on the likelihood of her sending flirty signals to Vincent Tabak.
  • When her body came to be examined by pathologists, she was found to have incurred 43 injuries. Several of the prosecution witnesses who testified at the trial of Vincent Tabak might have been able to shed some light on whether Joanna had received any of her injuries in the days leading up to her death, whether these injuries had been connected with her headaches or an accidental fall, and whether she had been in a fight with someone (especially her boyfriend) on the evening of Wednesday 15th December 2010. She might have needed a day to recover and apply make-up to the bruises that might be visible. However, neither member of Vincent Tabak’s defence team made any attempt to question any of these witnesses about her health nor possible PMT. The conjectured reasons for a fight could be: that she wanted to end the relationship, that she was cheating on her boyfriend, or that she claimed to be pregnant by another man.
  • Termination of pregnancy. The motive for her killing could have been an unwanted pregnancy resulting from an affair with another man, and she may have booked time at an abortion clinic on the Thursday. Being in the early stages of pregnancy might also have influenced her moods.
  • Her headaches may have been symptoms of a Sexually Transmitted Infection, which may have kept her away from work on the Thursday, or for which she may have sought treatment that day. An STI could have been the motive for her killing.
The Hope & Anchor
On Friday, 17th December, 2010, Joanna was back at work. CCTV captured pictures showing her with Greg Reardon setting off for work through the snow. At lunchtime she ate a meal consisting of cheesy chips and Cola together with her boyfriend at the Hope & Anchor Pub, 38 Jacob’s Wells Road, Clifton. Barman Jack Carrington, 23, who was working at the pub, told The Daily Star (31st December 2010): “Joanna came in about 12.30 p.m. with her boyfriend. It was really busy, as we had a lot of Christmas parties in, so they sat in the corner at a small table. They only stayed about 20 minutes, and had two pints of Coke and one large portion of cheesy chips, which they shared. They just seemed their normal selves. We recognised them. They always seemed like a lovely couple. She came in a lot, especially with her boyfriend on Friday afternoons. We made conversation with her, and she always seemed happy when she came in. Most of the staff recognised her.”

Joanna at the Bristol Ram pub

Joanna Yeates emerging from the ladies
at the Ram pub wearing her distinctive top
After work, Joanna took off the multi-coloured striped top she had been wearing, and put it into her rucksack. On a video captured from CCTV, the court would see Joanna and her Irish colleague Darragh Bellew leave their office on Park Street after work that day, use a cashpoint, then walk up the hill to the Bristol Ram pub for a pre-Christmas office get-together with other staff from their office. She was wearing dark grey skinny jeans and a pale short-sleeved top. She was also captured on the pub’s CCTV, and, in a succession of video clips from this CCTV that were subsequently shown in court, she could be seen coming out of the ladies’ toilet, taking her place on a bench together with a large group of her colleagues, and, finally at 8.02 p.m., making her way towards the entrance, wearing her cream-coloured anorak, with her rucksack over her shoulder. Before leaving the Bristol Ram Pub, she put on a green fleece over her blouse. The pub was packed that evening with Christmas revellers, including Irish football enthusiasts.

Unlike all the other indoor CCTV video clips, those from the Bristol Ram pub are black & white. This suggests that the police may have redacted the chroma signal out, to avoid revealing that the blouse she was wearing in the pub was a different colour from the one found on her body.

Darragh Bellew
Darragh Bellew, a landscape architect, would tell the jury at Vincent Tabak’s trial that Joanna had bought him a pint that evening. Cross-examined by junior prosecution barrister Nicholas Rowland as to whether she had been drunk, Darragh Bellew would reply: “Not at all, just jovial, her usual self.” He had asked her what she had planned for the weekend, and gathered that she was going to bake some cakes and bread “because Greg was away”. She had joked and said she was going to bring them in to the office on the Monday morning.

In a written statement read out to the court by junior prosecuting counsel Nicholas Rowland at Vincent Tabak’s trial for her murder, the jury heard how Joanna Yeates told her office manager Elizabeth Chandler while they were at the Bristol Ram pub together that she was “dreading” spending the weekend alone just hours before she died. “It was the first time she was going to be left on her own. Her partner Greg, whom I know, was going away.”  Joanna’s father, however, asserted that Greg had been away before (The Guardian, 23rd December 2010). In their cross-examination of the witnesses who knew the victim, neither Nicholas Rowland, Dean Rowland nor William Clegg QC asked about whether this “dread” might have been because she and her boyfriend were no longer lovers, or whether she was afraid of him.

The Bristol Ram pub, Park Street
Nicholas Rowland read out to the court a written statement from Joanna’s colleague Michael Brown, an architectural assistant at BDP, who stated that he had spoken to Joanna Yeates in the Bristol Ram pub about her plans for Christmas and about who would win the final of the BBC reality show “The Apprentice” that was being aired on the Sunday night. “I remember texting Jo and betting her 50p that Chris Bates was going to win”, he said. “She said she didn’t have any plans for the weekend and appeared bored, and told him that she planned to do baking.” Mr Brown said he had a joke with Joanna Yeates but added: “Jo was not in the best of moods and appeared bored.” He said that colleagues had bought Joanna Yeates a pint and a half of cider, but added she was not slurring her words and did not appear unsteady on her feet.

We have only Nigel Lickley QC’s word for it that the short-sleeved top Joanna was seen wearing in the pub was identical to the pink one subsequently found on her body – and he was not under oath. None of her colleagues who were in the pub, nor anyone else, testified to a positive identification of the top. This suggests that they could have been two different tops, indicating that she was not killed that evening but on the Saturday or the Sunday.

According to The Mirror, 14th October 2011, Joanna told her colleagues in the Ram pub that her dad did weight-lifting “even though he was quite old”.

The landlord of the Bristol Ram pub, Alex Major, would tell The Independent’s Rob Hastings (28th December 2010) that Joanna was well known to bar staff. “Her company comes in here three or four times a week, and she would come in every Friday. We knew her and her boyfriend”.

At 8.02 p.m. Joanna  put on a green fleece over her blouse, and then put on her cream-coloured winter jacket. She was captured on CCTV leaving the pub. Mr. Rowland would ask Darragh Bellew in court whether Joanna had left before the other drinkers. The Irishman replied: “She would always leave before most of us. When we would go on drinking she would go to be with Greg (her boyfriend) really.” A more persistent junior prosecutor would have followed this up with a question about why Joanna had left before the other drinkers on this particular evening, when she had no boyfriend waiting at home for her.

Neither counsel made any attempt to cross-examine this or any other witness to find out whether it had been Joanna’s fixed habit to leave on the stroke of 8 o’clock, enabling someone who knew her well to keep an eye out for her. It was probably hunger that caused her to leave earlier than her colleagues, who may have eaten heartier lunches than Joanna’s half-helping of cheesy chips. No bar food was available in the Bristol Ram Pub that evening.

After Vincent Tabak had been arrested, he gave police a prepared statement, where he claimed that he did not know Joanna Yeates and that he had never spoken to her or her boyfriend. “Until her picture was shown prominently in the press I would not have recognised her,” he told police. He had been in the USA from 6th November 2010 to 11th December 2010, so she was his neighbour for a total of only seventeen days.

Joanna’s walk to Clifton

Joanna Yeates in Waitrose
At about 8.10 p.m., after a 7 minute walk from the pub, Joanna went into Waitrose at 85 Queen’s Road, Clifton, where she was captured on CCTV. An early bulletin from the BBC (22nd December 2010) reported that this was one of the supermarkets from which receipts were subsequently found in her flat, but the jury would be told that she left without buying anything. Did she buy a pregnancy testing kit in Waitrose?

After leaving Waitrose, she made an abrupt left-turn, down one of the roads leading towards Regent Street. In the course of her zig-zagging walk towards Clifton, Joanna sent texts to each of three men friends in turn, evidently hoping to combine further social activity with an evening meal.

To the first man friend she contacted on her way home, BDP architect Samuel Huscroft, who had planned to go to the Bristol Ram pub with the others, but who went home instead, as he was not feeling well, she texted: “Where are you this fine evening?” He texted back but claims that he did not receive a reply.

She also contacted a former colleague, Peter Lindsell. At 8.12 p.m. she texted: “Peter, where art thou?! Jx”. He replied immediately that he was about to board a train at Bristol’s Temple Meads Station to Reading, where he was attending a wedding that weekend.

At 8.24 p.m. she texted Peter Lindsell again: “On my tod, just thinking about how much fun your birthday was.” He thought this was an odd comment, because she was referring to his BBQ in April 2009, and could not think why she would make that comment. He replied at 8.25 p.m., offering to meet up with Joanna Yeates and Greg Reardon for a drink – either before Christmas or after. He recounted: “I took it from her text that she was at a loose end, which is why I suggested the drink because I had not seen Greg or Jo for such a long time. After that text I didn’t hear any more from Jo but didn’t think that was unusual.”

Joanna Yeates in Bargain Booze
After a further 12-minute walk from Waitrose, Joanna went into Bargain Booze, which at that time occupied the ground floor of 22 Regent Street, BS8 4HG. The CCTV showed her breezing into the off-licence looking happy and radiant – not at all like someone dreading the next two days, but like a girl looking forward to an exciting date. Before taking a bottle of cider off the shelf, she texted another of her friends: “Matt, are you out this evening? Where are you? Do you fancy a drink?” Then she went back for second bottle before going to the checkout to pay at 8.29 p.m.

“Robin Paine, who was working in the off-licence that evening, said: ‘I don’t remember serving her, and it was the Friday night before Christmas, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., and it is very, very busy. I spoke to the detectives and I said I didn’t remember serving her. They came and took away the CCTV because they said she had been in here.’”
- Channel 4 News, 28th December 2010

Joanna knew Matthew Wood through her brother Chris. There is a strong likelihood that he was one of her ex-boyfriends. He was at a works party in a pub in the Clifton Triangle, which Joanna passed on her way, when his mobile phone registered her text at 8.26 p.m. However he would claim that he did not see it until 9.22 p.m. He replied, “At office party. Not sure what I’m doing later.” He claims he never received any reply.

Tesco Express in Clifton Village
On her way through Clifton, Joanna Yeates telephoned Rebecca Scott, her best friend, who was still in Swansea at that time, at 8.30 p.m., and spoke to her for 7 to 12 minutes. Rebecca Scott told the press that she dissuaded Joanna from travelling to visit her in Swansea that very evening by telling her that trains and buses had been cancelled owing to the bad weather. Neither member of the defence team attempted to cross-examine this prosecution witness when she testified in court about Joanna’s motives for this seemingly impulsive attempt to flee from Bristol, about Joanna’s texts to three men friends in the vain hope of further social activity that evening, or about whether she was afraid of something happening and did not want to be alone. Defending himself at his trial, Vincent Tabak described Joanna’s behaviour as “flirty” during the alleged encounter that was supposed to have led to her death. Although the encounter never took place in realityCounsel for the Defence encouraged him to say something like that on the basis that Joanna Yeates was disposed that evening towards receiving the attentions of any presentable man who was available.

Joanna Yeates paying for her pizza at the automatic
check-out in Tesco Express
Although there was an Asda pizza in the freezer at home, Joanna went into Tesco Express in Regent Street at about 8.39 p.m. and bought a frozen Finest mozzarella, tomato and basil pesto pizza. This suggests that by now she may have made contact with a friend whom she could visit straightaway with a food offering. She must have been very hungry by this time. Joanna’s actions were captured on video from the shop’s CCTV. She deftly scanned the pizza, operated the automatic check-out, and paid her bill, using only her left hand, while clutching two plastic bags in her right hand, one white and one black. According to the police, the cider was in the white bag. They would not reveal what was in the black bag, but alleged that its contents were not relevant to the investigation. Their secrecy makes this a very doubtful allegation and suggests that the police knew that Joanna did indeed have plans for a lover’s tryst. Even if the black bag contained, e.g., a toothbrush and a change of underwear for a night away from home, cigars, champagne, sex toys, condoms, sexy underwear, a book about pregnancy, or a pregnancy testing kit, these would have been relevant. The unreported contents of the black bag may have been purchased in Waitrose.

No witness under oath testified to the integrity of the evidence of this pizza and her other purchases, nor of the various videos from CCTV, in which Joanna’s actions were captured, and which were shown in court.

At 8.43 p.m. she was captured briefly on video passing the end of Kings Road, Clifton, by the external CCTV high up on the wall of the Hophouse pub.

Fr. George Henwood
Father George Henwood, the parish priest of St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church, Knowle, was out walking his Labrador dog on their customary route, at an unidentified junction with Canynge Road. He did not know Joanna Yeates, nor she him, but after seeing the appeal on TV on Monday 20th December, he had realized who the young woman with the cream-coloured jacket and dark trousers must have been. He had remarked to her, “It’s slippy isn’t it?” She glanced at him and replied “Yes it is”. He told the court he had also seen a couple prior to his encounter with the woman he later learnt was Joanna Yeates, but he did not notice where they went. He also told the court that he was walking his dog from 8.15 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., which does not tally with the timings from the CCTVs in Tesco and outside the Hophouse pub.

It was 0.4 mile along the icy pavements from Tesco and the Hophouse pub to her home. This would have taken her nine minutes to walk, if that is where she was heading.

Was it Joanna who screamed?

Screams were heard that evening by various people who were in the vicinity of 44 Canynge Road. In the light of all the evidence available, however, the overwhelming balance of probability is that they were not Joanna’s screams and that she died later, probably much later.

Maria-Rosa Browne
Peter Browne
A young married couple called Maria-Rosa and Peter Browne were holding a Christmas party in their top-floor flat at 53 Canynge Road, on the other side of the road from Joanna Yeates’s flat, on her last Friday evening. Guests had started to arrive in ones and twos from 7.00 p.m. One of these guests, whose name has never been made public, stepped outside just after 9.00 p.m. to smoke a cigarette. Although she heard two screams coming from somewhere else in the vicinity, she attributed them to high spirits, and neither she nor anyone else who was at the party took any action at the time. Nearly a fortnight would go by before she came forward.

53 Canynge Rd
Both the host and the hostess later gave statements to the police about the people who had attended. They found out later that two screams were heard from over the road, and recalled that some people would have arrived at their front door around 9.00 p.m.

Primary school teacher Matthew Phillips went to Peter & Rose Browne’s party at No. 53, on the other side of Canynge Road from Joanna Yeates’s flat, and said in a written statement that he heard a “commotion” as he was waiting to go into the house. He added that it sounded like a group, and one person had “shrieked”.

A friend of his, Warren Sweet, testified that he arrived at the Brownes’s party together with Matthew Phillips at about 8.30 p.m. but heard neither screams nor a commotion.

Zoe & Florian Lehman
Florian Lehman told the court that he and his wife Zoe also heard screams as they walked to the same party. They had set out on foot at 8.35 p.m. from their house in Clifton Village, and stopped to buy a bottle of wine from the same off-licence, Bargain Booze, as the one where Joanna had bought her cider a few minutes earlier, before continuing to the party. They heard two screams as they walked down the path at 53 Canynge Road. “We were through the gate and we were in the middle of the footpath between the gate and the entrance,” Florian Lehman told the jury. “That’s when I heard two screams. They were quite loud. They seemed to me to come from quite a distance. The first scream was just for a moment, a scream and then a little pause, maybe just two seconds, and a second scream which was a lot shorter. The first one was louder. The first was longer.” Florian Lehman said he thought the screams were coming from the direction of the Clifton College playing fields, which are next to 44 Canynge Road. He added: “It was definitely a female voice. I thought it might be playing kids.”

The entrance to Joanna’s flat at 44 Canynge Rd,
showing the security light above the front path
Zoe Lehman said she had heard “quite a loud scream”, which sounded as if it were coming from behind them, as they reached the gate. She said she thought it was from a woman and described one as “stifled or muffled” before hearing a thud. “The best thing I can describe it as is like furniture falling – a thud,” she said.

As they had walked past 44 Canynge Road, Zoe Lehman had noticed that the security light outside Joanna’s flat was lit. According to The Telegraph (10th October 2011), the people who heard the screams were seen on CCTV passing the flat at 8.49 p.m., implying that Joanna Yeates would have been home for only about five minutes when she was strangled, if the screams heard by the Lehmans really were hers.

Geoffrey Hardyman
Vincent Tabak’s defence team would argue that the screams had nothing to do with Joanna’s death. According to the only defence witness statement, which was read out at the trial by junior defence counsel Dean Armstrong on 24th October 2011, from Geoffrey Hardyman, who lives in the top floor flat of 44 Canynge Road, Clifton, he was ill with a cold and had gone to bed at 11 p.m. on the night of 17th December 2010. The 78-year-old stated that he had heard nothing from Miss Yeates’s ground floor flat on the evening that was alleged to be the time when she was strangled. He had learnt of her disappearance only when told on the following Monday by her landlord Christopher Jefferies. The retired teacher, who had owned his flat for around 20 years, said he had met Joanna Yeates and her boyfriend Greg Reardon briefly. “I actually only met Greg and Joanna on three occasions while I was working in the garden,” he said. “I have had a friendly conversation with Joanna about her cat, who I liked to see in the garden. I would describe them both as nice and friendly and I was impressed with them.” According to Small World News Service (29th December 2010), he dismissed reports of a party being held in the area – or screams being heard. “I have heard reports there was a party in the area, but I heard absolutely nothing, and I am quite a sensitive sleeper.”

44 & 42 Canynge Rd.
The landlord Christopher Jefferies did not say whether he had heard any screams, nor was any testimony from him heard in court. In particular, his second witness statement, volunteered on 22nd December 2010, has never been made public. He is known to have told police that he believed he saw and heard Joanna in company with two other people at an entrance to 44 Canynge Road. There are inconsistencies in the various accounts (including his own) of what he told police, so it is even possible that he had made a positive identification of Joanna on the Saturday (18th) or the Sunday (19th), and that the object of his arrest and bail was to prevent him from reporting this to the news media.

Harry Walker
(photo: Metro.Co.UK)
Farmer’s son Harry Walker, who lives in Percival Road, behind Joanna Yeates’s flat, said he was at home having dinner with his fiancée when he heard a loud scream over the noise of the television at about 8.30 p.m. He remembered it definitely being a “human noise”, definitely not an animal, but dismissed it as partying students, even though it was still relatively early.

A man living in the building behind 44 Canynge Road was working in his bedroom when he heard a loud, impassioned cry from outside, including the words “Help me!” Although he looked out of his window and then went outside to check, he could neither see nor hear anything. After he learnt that Joanna Yeates’s body had been found, he went to the police and told them that he was uncertain about the timing of this cry, but believed he had most probably heard it during the morning of 18th December 2010. After learning of Vincent Tabak’s arrest, the neighbour (who asked not to be named) told the Bristol Evening Post (22nd January 2011) about the cry for help, which he believed had come from the direction of Canynge Road and sounded like a female or a young child.

According to The Mirror, 1st January 2011, a font designer called Laurence Penney was a tenant in the neighbouring house belonging to Peter Stanley, 42 Canynge Road, which is the house closest to Joanna's flat. He had spent his Christmas holiday in France, so detectives did not interview him until he returned home on one of the last days of December. He told them: “I was here when Joanna Yeates disappeared but I didn’t see or hear anything.
  • When the jurors at Vincent Tabak’s trial visited Joanna Yeates’s flat on 12th October 2011, Counsel for the Defence William Clegg QC got them to stand at the places where the screams were heard, to suggest that they could not have been heard if they came from inside the flat. His defence was that they were not Joanna’s screams. However, the screams could have been hers if she had screamed in Canynge Road in the vicinity of No. 44. 
  • In Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder in Mesopotamia’, the investigator sent the nurse into the dead woman’s room to carry out a scream test, but he couldn’t hear her screams until she tried screaming with the window open. Although Counsel for the Prosecution wanted the jury to believe that Joanna’s screams as she was being killed inside her flat could be heard in the street outside, Mr. Lickley did not send one of the female jurors into Joanna’s flat to scream for the other jurors to test his proposition objectively. 
  • Vincent Tabak testified at his trial that the sound insulation of the apartments at 44 Canynge Road was very good. 
  • After walking home from Tesco Express, Joanna would barely have had time before the screams were heard even to get through the front door of the flat, let alone get chased violently round the flat from room to room, spreading earrings, knickers and coats in all directions. 
  • A scream cannot be mistaken for a shout or high jinks. 

What really happened that weekend?

As described in detail in the other posts, Vincent Tabak was made a scapegoat for the murder of Joanna Yeates, so the events leading up to it after this point, its timing, and the scene of the final attack, must be a matter for conjecture, based on the evidence available, and the efforts made by the police and the lawyers to deceive and manipulate the public and the jury.
  • There is overwhelming evidence that it was her boyfriend who killed her.
  • Although it is possible that she was killed on the Friday evening, it is more probable that the attack took place on the Saturday or the Sunday. The CPS may have known this, as they charged Vincent Tabak with killing her between 16th and 19th December 2010.
  • The landlord saw and heard someone who might have been Joanna on her front path by the house together with two men during the weekend when she was killed, but the full details of his witness statements to the police have never been made public.
  • Joanna’s body was bloodied and her nose fractured and bleeding, and there was blood on her hair, her T-shirt and the toe of her sock, and on a stone wall near where she was found. Although the initial attack on her may have taken place in her own flat, the failure of the Prosecution to produce any evidence in court of blood spatter in the flat (despite a massive and prolonged forensics effort) proves conclusively that she was strangled elsewhere. She probably fled from her attacker wearing only indoor clothes, clutching one sock in her hand.
  • There are very strong indications that she planned to spend a significant part of the weekend with a secret, older, married lover, probably at her flat, but possibly elsewhere for part of the time. It was most probably to conceal the identity of this prominent and influential man that the police had to find a scapegoat and go to such great lengths to convict him.
  • Only a very ruthless and detached lover would allow his rival in love to get away scot-free with killing his mistress while an innocent scapegoat serves a life sentence for the crime. If he were a Roman Catholic and had made her pregnant, then he had an additional incentive to want her dead, and he may have been an accessory to the crime. He could be, e.g., a senior police officer (her godfather was a detective sergeant), a prominent architect (whom she may have met at her graduation), an eminent lawyer, perhaps a judge, a prison governor, a member of the royal family, or a senior NATO officer, possibly from the USA.
  • After she died, The Mail on Sunday (27th February 2011) revealed that Joanna had more than £40,000 saved up – an amount that the newspaper obviously considered astonishingly large for a young, newly-qualified landscape architect to have in her bank account. Had she earned this money in one of the ways that can lead a girl into serious trouble, such as blackmail, or even escort assignments? Was her move to 44 Canynyge Rd only 6 weeks earlier linked to this? Did her landlord see and hear her on her front path with high-profile clients whom she had brought back to her flat? Did he suspect her of taking money for sex and snoop on her to try to verify or dispel his suspicions?
  • At the time of Joanna’s murder, her godfather Det Sgt Peter Yeates had been stealing mobile telephones from his then-employer, Dorset Police, and his wife was planning to divorce him. Describing his client’s abuses of his position as “irrational” at Peter Yeates’s trial at Portsmouth Crown Court in June 2013, Counsel for the Defence Ian Lawrie QC told the court: “It is hard to understand why he did these offences. He wasn’t financially hard pressed”. Sentencing the defendant to 34 weeks in prison, judge Ian Pearson accepted that Det Sgt Yeates had obtained only £10,671.35 from selling the devices he had stolen, and that he had had no accomplices. Were there far bigger stakes and more persons actually implicated in this highly “irrational” crime, including the ill-fated Joanna herself, than Dorset Police were prepared to allow to come out in court? Was Joanna blackmailing Peter Yeates? Or were they both victims of a criminal or a gang whom DS Yeates had crossed in the course of his police career?
  • Was landscape architect Joanna the victim of a “House of Cards” execution by a property developer who had paid her to keep quiet about corrupt deals in which he was involved? Did Christopher Jefferies and Buro Happold have dealings with this man?
Longwood Lane
According to The Daily Telegraph, 3rd January 2011, Senior investigating officer Phil Jones of Avon and Somerset Police was appealing for information about a light-coloured four-wheel drive vehicle seen in Longwood Lane, where Joanna Yeates’s body was eventually found, during the late Friday evening and early hours of Saturday morning of the weekend when she disappeared. He added: “We have had a number of reports of vehicles in Longwood Lane.” According to The Sun, 12th January 2011, a couple walking along Longwood Lane who saw a car being driven up and down the lane several times in succession on the morning of Saturday 18th December 2010, just hours after Joanna Yeates vanished, became so suspicious that they reported it to the police, even though no one except her killer knew she was missing at that time. The Sun did not name their police source for this report, nor could the newspaper find out from their source whether this car was the light-coloured 4x4 reported previously, or another vehicle entirely. As these vehicles played no part in the prosecution of Vincent Tabak, it may safely be inferred that these reports were complete fabrications devised by the police so as to reinforce their claim that she was killed and dumped by the roadside before the heaviest snow fell, perhaps in the knowledge that she was still alive up to 48 hours later and was dumped in a completely different spot where the melting of the snow had no influence on her discovery.

During his account of the Sunday evening when he found Joanna missing, her boyfriend made some observations about her habits:
  • “I thought she had been quite lazy...it was a niggle.”
  • “I was quite annoyed that I had not been told what her plans were and she had not got back to me.”
  • “It was a bad habit of Jo’s to open drinks and leave them. I came in and I was slightly annoyed.”
Rebecca Scott
Testifying in court, Joanna’s best friend Rebecca Scott said that it was not unusual for Joanna Yeates to go for a couple of days without returning phone calls or text messages, as was the case over the weekend before her boyfriend reported her missing, as she was ‘useless with her phone’. If Joanna were with a lover, she may well have switched off her mobile (thereby conserving its battery charge). If they were in her flat, she may also have disabled the ringing tone on the landline.

Despite having told her friends that she had only vague plans for the weekend, Joanna did not accompany her devoted boyfriend to Sheffield for a family christening, but instead sent texts seeking the company of other men as soon as his back was turned. There could have been an innocent explanation for why she stayed in Bristol, but its failure to emerge publicly is evidence that she had secret plans that he could guess. She thereby gave him a strong motive for murder, namely jealousy.

44 Canynge Road, Clifton
The only possible scenario that links Joanna’s death to the screams has her being accosted in the near vicinity by a killer she knew very well who had shadowed her home from the pub. Perhaps he had been waiting for her in a car on the opposite side of the road in a layby, where he could observe the junction of Percival Road and Canynge Road. He asked her to get into the car, where he strangled her, banging the door shut to muffle her cries. This would have been the thud heard by Zoe Lehman. Greg Reardon would have had to hang around for nearly two hours after the landlord had helped him start his car, waiting on the off-chance of surprising Joanna in the company of a lover. It is possible that her lover was indeed waiting for her outside 44 Canynge Road, but was to be disappointed. If her boyfriend had strangled Joanna while she was wearing her outdoor clothes, he would have had to clean any spots of blood off her cream jacket and green fleece sufficiently thoroughly to prevent them from being obvious to her parents. The sock that was missing from her right foot when her body was found could have come off with her right boot when he removed her outdoor clothes after she was dead to plant them in their flat. Her body was frozen to the ground when it was found, suggesting that she had not had time to go to the toilet before she was killed. He would have had to dispose of the frozen pizza during his trip to Sheffield, as it would have thawed out in the car.

On 23rd December 2010, suspiciously quickly after Joanna’s disappearance, DCI Gareth Bevan, who was known to the public as a leading member of the team investigating the murder of Melanie Hall, drew the conclusion that the presence of Joanna’s coat, bag, keys, mobile telephone and pizza receipt suggested that she had got back to her flat. He manipulatively omitted to mention the alternative scenario, namely, that these items could have been placed in the flat subsequently by an abductor whose presence there would not arouse suspicion, i.e., Greg Reardon, without her ever having reached the flat. He would have done this if he had been lurking in wait for her when she came home from the Bristol Ram pub. Making it appear that Joanna had got back to the flat by placing her things there instead of disposing of them would throw suspicion on to the house’s other occupants.

Convoy of pumping tenders mustering
in Longwood Lane on Christmas day 2010
(Source: frame captured from ITN video)
If the police and the prosecution could have produced forensic evidence showing that Joanna Yeates was already dead by the time Vincent Tabak picked up his girlfriend after her company party early on the Saturday morning, they would certainly have done so – but they didn’t. The best they could do was to allege that the body was dumped beside a frequented country lane, where it would have been spotted by passers-by the very next day, if it had not been covered by the snow that fell that night. The local people were sceptical about this, and their dogs would certainly have investigated a dead body under their noses. However, there would have been no need for the presence of 23 fire offiicers, manning four pumping tenders and a substantial crane, to recover Joanna’s body, if it really lay in the spot that the public and the jury were told.

DCI Gareth Bevan, known as a leading
member of the team investigating
the murder of Melanie Hall
DCI Gareth Bevan stated on 23rd December 2010 that the frozen pizza Joanna had bought on her way home was not in the flat. Although the public was told without attribution that analysis of her stomach contents had revealed that she did not eat the pizza, the use of a laboratory in another jurisdiction for this task suggests that police believed that she did eat it. DCI Bevan added that neither the packaging nor the pizza was ever found. If he was telling the truth, then the simplest explanation is that she did eat the pizza, or part of it, together with her lover or one of her friends, and that she was not killed earlier than 2.00 a.m. on the Saturday (though probably a lot later than that). If they ate the pizza at the lover’s place (while his wife was absent) or the friend’s place, then the police would not even have looked there for the discarded packaging. Finding the packaging in Joanna’s flat, on the other hand, would have made it impossible to convict Vincent Tabak. It is possible that an officer who was party to the cover-up but who neither talked to the press nor testified in court was assigned to dispose of the packaging, if it were in her flat, without telling DCI Bevan. However, the holding of a special pizza press conference, and the choice of a spokesman not seen nor heard in any other connection with Joanna’s disappearance, suggests that he knew he was lying about the packaging. It suggests another agenda, namely, that the police already knew she was dead, and that they believed that Melanie Hall’s killer might have been responsible. It also suggests that the landlord’s 2nd witness statement had already led the police to made a decision to misrepresent the events leading to her disappearance before her body was found.

The absence of Joanna’s right sock is one of the strongest indicators that her boyfriend caught her in flagrente delicto with her lover. If this had taken place in her flat on the Friday evening, then the pizza would have been found either in the flat or in her stomach. It seems much more probable that her boyfriend returned prematurely on the Saturday or earlier than she expected on the Sunday, to find her in the arms of her lover. The lover would have been in more of a hurry to dress than Joanna, as she did not expect to be going anywhere. It is possible that she announced to both of them that she was pregnant, and perhaps it was this that provoked Greg Reardon to become violent. Perhaps she taunted him. He probably assaulted her violently after sending her lover packing, causing her to flee the flat with one sock on her left foot and the other in her hand. He probably caught her as she tried to seek refuge in her car or a neighbouring house.

Greg Reardon had no alibi at all for the Sunday evening, though his alibi for the rest of the weekend has never been tested either, so he had the motive, means and opportunity to kill her. The lovers’ discretion about a weekend tryst would have made it easy for Joanna’s boyfriend to mislead everyone into believing that it had been Friday when she disappeared. The pathology of her body pointed to domestic violence. If Joanna were pregnant, as the moodiness at the Bristol Ram pub that the somewhat conflicting testimony of her colleagues suggests, this could have been a major contributory factor in the motivation of her killer. Her enthusiasm for the cider, however, lends weight to the proposition that the black bag she carried contained a pregnancy testing kit.

At the trial of Vincent Tabak, Greg Reardon described finding a scene of disorder in the flat on his return from Sheffield. The jury was shown a sketch he had made for the police shortly afterwards, showing the various items that he claimed to have found out of place, and, in most cases, to have tidied up, before the police and Joanna’s parents arrived. However, this disorder was never reported publicly at the time, and some of the early reports of her disappearance specifically mentioned that no signs of a struggle were found in the flat. Vincent Tabak’s denial under cross-examination that any struggle had taken place was one of the two main factors that turned the jury against him, and it seems probable that he was deliberately kept unaware of the disorder allegedly found in the flat when he signed his “enhanced statement”. The flat could really have become disorderly in the course of an actual struggle between Joanna, her boyfriend, and (possibly) her lover, or the disorder could have been invented prior to the trial to help convict the scapegoat of murder.

Despite protracted and minute examination, no forensic evidence of anyone in the flat who should not have been there was presented by the prosecution. If Vincent Tabak’s DNA had been found there, the jury would certainly have been told. If the lover’s DNA were found there, the jury would certainly not have been told about it.

Joanna’s lover would have realised what had happened within hours of her death. He and Greg Reardon must have moved fast to exploit the power that each had over the other. The lover would not want his wife nor the rest of the world to know about his part in a murder. The two men must have negotiated what to do, and it cannot be ruled out that the lover helped dump her body. The knowledge that Joanna was dead by her boyfriend’s hand must have reached senior police officers on 21st or 22nd December 2010, when the video appeal that featured him was removed from the internet. By this time police already had Vincent Tabak’s first witness statement, and their decision to make him the scapegoat was probably taken soon afterwards.

Right from the day on which she was reported missing, the police investigation into Joanna’s fate was codenamed “Operation Braid”, after a video game about a man searching for a princess who has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster. Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s Director of Corporate Communications used her publicity machine to turn Joanna Yeates into an iconic “Princess Diana” victim, so that no slander and humiliation was too bad to be heaped on the wretched scapegoat convicted of killing her. Joanna’s soul will not find peace so long as an innocent, civilised and courteous engineer continues to be the recipient of all evils, deprivations and degradations as a result of her death.