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 motive and the carrot

“Following [Daniel] Lancaster’s guilty plea to manslaughter, he will be sentenced to a very long time behind bars.”
– Detective Inspector Mark Rothwell, 10th August 2011

The motive...

If you remain unconvinced that the scapegoating of Vincent Tabak was an episode of unparalleled evil, then you are guilty of doublethink”. You undoubtedly accept without question the principle of the rule of law and the proportionate punishment of crime. This presupposes that every member of society has learnt to distinguish rationally between right and wrong, and to anticipate the consequences of his or her actions. You yourself have no first-hand experience of murder, but you fully endorse Mr. Justice Field’s plain designation of it as “a very serious crime”. Twenty years behind bars is the least sentence you would endorse for a murderer. Yet at the same time, a solid diet of detective fiction has brainwashed you into believing that, far from being a serious criminal, nearly every murderer is a person without previous convictions, who, however, has been swayed by some sudden passion, or has seen a chance of great personal reward, or is merely eccentric. You trivialise the taking of life to an act that almost anyone might find themselves carrying out. This huge discrepancy in attitudes is not just wrong, but amoral, anti-social, and logically incompatible with the rule of law.

Admittedly, establishing the motive of a murder suspect who has a history of gratuitous violence and crime may not be a prosecutor’s highest priority – but the Crown must be seen to demonstrate a solid explanation for the action of any other defendant. This must be done transparently and in open court, and the prosecutor must link the motive to the character of the accused. No matter how humble the person in the dock, nor how modest their contribution to society may have been, their character is considered legally and morally a good one if they have continuously abstained from crime and violence. A “law-abiding citizen”, as he or she is commonly designated, is one who has invested in their own trustworthiness. This personal asset is morally neutral until it is confronted by the suspicion of a court of law – but when this happens, both the prosecutor and you, the vigilant outsider, are obliged to respect and uphold a person’s honour and reputation, and to deplore arbitrary attacks on it. The individual reaps benefits from the investment in his own trustworthiness, and society functions only because most of its members can trust each other.

Crown Prosecutor Ann Reddrop
Nigel Lickley QC
A prosecutor such as Nigel Lickley QC or Ann Reddrop  – who put on a spectacular show full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, to distract the jury from their failure to demonstrate a motive for a trustworthy defendant – are enemies of society, just as surely as if they encouraged the stealing of cars or the abuse of nursery children. Both of them know very well that Art. 12 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights specifically proscribes arbitrary attacks on anyone’s honour and reputation.

Most real-life law-abiding citizens, furthermore, enhance their trustworthiness, honour and reputation by investing in an education, taking up employment or establishing a business, forming relationships, and raising a family. These investments, too, are of benefit, not just to the individual in question, but also to the rest of society as a whole. A person who has made these investments is well aware of the potential consequences to himself of a prison sentence. A prosecutor who does not acknowledge that a defendant who has made these investments has a great deal more to lose by risking imprisonment than one who has not made them is an enemy of society. The more a defendant would lose by being found guilty, the stronger is the motive for committing the crime that the prosecutor must link to the accused.

Objectively linking the character of a defendant in a murder case to a commensurate motive that can be demonstrated on the basis of evidence testified under oath is therefore not just an issue of statistics and probability, but the plain moral obligation of everyone who claims to endorse the rule of law – ranging from the judge and the prosecutors, to the jurors, the occupants of the courtroom’s public gallery, the journalists who report the cases, and the general public who wish to become victims of neither private crime nor a miscarriage of justice. In the interests of transparency, everyone should suspect the integrity of the police, the prosecutors and the judge in any murder case with the following features:
  • The prosecutor does not demonstrate in court a motive attested by witnesses that was also one of the reasons why the defendant became a suspect
  • The character of the defendant is good but the defence fails to challenge trivial or false evidence of eccentricity and individuality
  • The focus of the prosecution and the news media is on questionable forensic evidence, especially DNA, and on the shortcomings of the defendant’s alibi
  • The case is dependant on an admission of guilt obtained in custody, where an accused person with no previous offences is so inherently vulnerable to blackmail by the authorities and torture by fellow prisoners that such an admission is inevitably unsound
  • The defendant has a partner whom the prosecution exploits
  • Even though it is a first offence, the sentence is exceptionally harsh
Many murder cases meeting all or most of these criteria have been reported in the news media, and you do not need to go into the details to spot them.

The ethical issue becomes extreme in the case of a law-abiding citizen with a high education who takes up specialised work in a different country from his own. Society’s obligation to acknowledge and make allowances for the inherent vulnerability of such a person owing to the remoteness of their family and established social network is expressed in Jesus’s story of the good Samaritan. Nobody would travel to another city or another country if they were not confident that they could trust the public authorities there absolutely – nor would such a highly educated and trustworthy person commit a serious crime abroad without a sky-high motive, because he is well aware that the human cost of being imprisoned far away from friends and family would be even higher than serving the same sentence in his home town. A prosecutor who takes advantage of the vulnerability of a foreign expert to send him to trial without demonstrating any motive at all has violated all the rules of civilised behaviour.

Who did have a motive to kill
Joanna Yeates?
Christopher Jefferies
Neither of the two men arrested on suspicion of her murder had any motive for wanting to kill Joanna Yeates, nor to be jealous of her, nor had either of these men any police record. Both the landlord Christopher Jefferies and Vincent Tabak were purposeful highly motivated members of society, highly educated, with no history whatsoever of outbursts of rage or violence. The reasons given by the police afterwards for taking each of these men into custody need not be taken literally. The landlord had keys to Joanna Yeatess flat, behaved irritably toward inquisitive journalists and added some details to his explanation of what he had been doing during the critical time when the murder was supposed to have taken place. The real reason for arresting Mr. Jefferies and putting him under house arrest was to silence him until after Vincent Tabak had signed his “enhanced” statement. It was probably also intended to divert media suspicion away from Joanna’s boyfriend. In an obvious reponse to the appeal by the police for help and information from the general public, Vincent Tabak is said to have got his girlfriend to telephone from Holland to Avon & Somerset Constabulary after hearing of the landlord’s arrest to draw their attention to the fact that the landlord’s car had appeared to have been moved during the fatal evening. He changed details of his account of how many times he had left his flat during the evening of the murder. He also showed natural curiosity in the removal in full view of the TV cameras of the front door of the flat. His sister and girlfriend “fussed” over him (after they suddenly realized that the Detective Constable was treating him as a suspect). These actions were subsequently represented in court as Vincent Tabak’s attempt to frame his landlord and the reasons given for why the police became suspicious of Vincent Tabak himself. The real reasons for arresting Vincent Tabak were probably to provide publicity for the DNA merchants and protect Joanna’s boyfriend.

Mr Justice Field
Defence QC William Clegg
did nothing to stop
Counsel for the Prosecution
According to Wikipedia: “Motive is particularly important in prosecutions for homicide. ... 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.” However, the police, the barristers and the media all conspicuously avoided any mention of the absence of a motive throughout the media coverage of the entire case. The Daily Telegraph merely noted on 11th October 2011 that Counsel for the Prosecution “did not offer an explanation for why Tabak attacked Miss Yeates”. In the absence of sexual assault, more likely motives for the killing of Joanna Yeates by a stranger were robbery, a ransome, blackmail, mistaken identity by a contract killer, or organized crime. None of these was ever mentioned at any stage during or after the “show” trial, whose purpose was to find out whether the accused had intended to kill the victim or not. However, neither the Judge Mr. Justice Fields nor the Defence Counsel Mr. William Clegg QC had done anything to stop the Counsel for the Prosecution Mr. Nigel Lickley QC and the police from explaining patiently and at great length five months earlier to journalists who themselves would subsequently hear the evidence in court and must therefore have known it was untrue that sexual perversion was nevertheless the motive in Vincent Tabak’s case.

Was the very contrived and phoney obsession with sex that characterized the police, the prosecution and the media deliberately orchestrated to disguise the absence of any motive on Vincent Tabak’s part and thereby prevent the public from suspecting his innocence? Was it linked to the unreported deal that can be inferred to have been made on 5th May 2011 between the prosecution and the defence to abstain from submitting any good or bad character evidence to the jury? Was the sex-fixation of the prosecution a result of their suspicion or knowledge that Joanna Yeates had been earning money as an up-market escort?

... and the carrot

Judge Clement Goldstone QC
Meanwhile, in Manchester, a certain Daniel Joseph Lancaster, 25, defended by Dennis Watson QC, was about to be tried before Judge Clement Goldstone QC for – almost unnoticed by the national media – having brutally murdered his 23-year-old girlfriend in Lancashire, Anna Banks, by strangling her during sexual intercourse on 21st December 2010, just a few days after a similar fate had befallen Joanna Yeates.

According to The Citizen, Burnley, 10th August 2011, Detective Inspector Mark Rothwell, from the Force Major Investigation team, promised Ms Banks’s anguished family: “...following Lancaster’s guilty plea to manslaughter, he will be sentenced to a very long time behind bars.”

Daniel Lancaster had told police that he often choked Anna Banks during lovemaking and he never intended to do her any permanent damage, Manchester Crown Court was told. There were marks around her throat and dried blood on her face. He was a cannabis user and had an alcohol problem. He did not report her death for more than 24 hours, and had been hazily fiddling with his mobile telephone and watching TV when he was found at the scene by paramedics.

Louise Mary Blackwell QC
(photo: Lincoln House Chambers)
The Prosecutor in Manchester, Louise Mary Blackwell QC, told the jury that the couple had been in an obsessive relationship, and that the defendant had discussed with one of his friends his discovery that Anna Banks was in contact with an ex-boyfriend. Did the Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset, Colin Port, make an application to one of his cronies from his years with Greater Manchester Police for leniency for this jealous young junkie? On 9th August 2011, thanks to the excellent work done by his Defence Counsel Dennis Watson QC, the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty of Murder. Two days later Daniel Lancaster was to receive a sentence of only four years for manslaughter, with a chance of remission for good behaviour. So much for DI Mark Rothwell’s promise of satisfaction to the victim’s family! Just two months after handing down this derisory sentence, Mr. Goldstone took up the position of Recorder of Liverpool.

Judge Martin Picton
put pressure on
Vincent Tabak
Was the news of this verdict revealed to Vincent Tabak as a carrot? On 22nd September 2011, two days after his pre-trial hearing, a very reluctant Vincent Tabak, under pressure from Judge Martin Picton, signed a statement that (just like the phoney DNA evidence against him) had been “enhanced” so much that it bore little resemblance to the truth. In it, he admitted that he unintentionally strangled Joanna Yeates by holding her neck for 20 seconds to stop her screaming. It described in detail the sequence of events that were supposed to have surrounded her death. This hearing had originally been scheduled to be held in July, so the reason why it was delayed for a couple of months may have been in order to hold it back until the verdict on Daniel Lancaster was available to “encourage” the prisoner accused of killing Joanna Yeates to sign his statement of guilt.

Vincent Tabak’s girlfriend
from Dyson,
Tanja Morson
Vincent Tabak (who worked for global architectural consultancy Buro Happold) and his girlfriend are cosmopolitan young mobile professionals, each of whom had a highly specialized position with their respective thriving multi-national employer that provides jobs and creates wealth in south-west England – but it was not put to the jury in this way. Was the orchestrated campaign to humiliate Vincent Tabak after the trial intended to prevent the cosmopolitan community from becoming aware that England is not a place foreigners should encourage their bright, highly educated grown-up children to study and/or work? – but a country where the vulnerability of an innocent foreign academic can be exploited to get him wrongly imprisoned for someone else’s crime? This is not a strategy calculated to encourage other talented foreigners to settle in the UK – something of which the owner of the company where the girlfriend worked, inventor Sir James Dyson, has been an outspoken public advocate.