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 prostitutes

“I question whether paying for the services of escort girls on two occasions made him a ‘sexual sophisticant’”

– Mr. Justice Richard Field

La maja vestida by Francisco de Goya
The case papers served on Vincent Tabak’s defence lawyers by the Crown on or before 1st April 2011 included two items of so-called “bad character evidence” – evidence of legal adult pornographic videos that police alleged the defendant had viewed, and evidence of wholly legal contacts that they alleged he had made to prostitutes during business trips to Yorkshire and California. His contacts to the call-girls were allegedly found by unidentified detectives who examined his telephone records, cash-withdrawal records and computer browsing logs. Some of this evidence, if it really existed, could have been collected prior to his arrest.

Because none of the police officers who compiled the “evidence of bad character” was ever named publicly, nor testified to it under oath, it can safely be concluded that it was actually fabricated by these officers as “sacrificial evidence”, well knowing that it would be rejected by the defence as inadmissable, to enable an unreported deal to be made with the defence. Although the dates on which this evidence was deemed inadmissible were subject to permanent reporting restrictions, it can safely be assumed that the first of these occasions was the plea and case management hearing held at the Old Bailey on 5th May 2011. One of the objects of this hearing was to enable the judge Mr Justice Field to resolve any dispute between the defence and the prosecution about the admissibility of any of the evidence.

Counsel for the Prosecution (who was not under oath) described the “bad character evidence” to the Court, and Counsel for the Defence argued that it was inadmissible as evidence. Mr. Justice Field found in favour of the defence. In return, Counsel for the Prosecution demanded, and got, an unreported undertaking on the part of Counsel for the Defence not to present any “good character evidence” to the jury, with devastating effect. Was the judge party to this deal?

There is a great deal of evidence to support the contention that the defendant himself did not participate in the plea and case management hearing, and that his place on the video screen was taken by an imposter – probably an actor – who entered the Manslaughter plea that the Crown required, rather than the plea that Vincent Tabak himself had intended. This indicates that he did not become aware of the nature of the “bad character evidence” until about 5th October 2011 at the earliest.

Nigel Lickley QC
At some time during Vincent Tabak’s trial in October 2011, Counsel for the Prosecution Nigel Lickley QC made an application to the judge to cross-examine the defendant about his contacts to prostitutes – probably on 25th October, but the date of this attempt was itself subject to a permanent reporting restriction, and the jury was sent out while the lawyers discussed the application. It was again rejected.

A major secondary function of the “bad character evidence” was to groom the specially invited journalists at the 5th May 2011 hearing and give those whose editors wanted to do so ample time to contact the prostitutes named by Counsel for the Prosecution so that they could invent their stories. Nothing could be published until the judge gave the go-ahead after the verdict.

The judge Mr. Justice Field refused to let Counsel for the Prosecution Nigel Lickley submit to the jury this evidence for Vincent Tabak’s bad character as revealed by his “reprensible secret life” of contacting prostitutes, but after the trial he removed reporting restrictions on these. The sanctimonious media declared it to be a scandal that the jury had not been told – as if the jury had it in their power to return an even more onerous verdict than murder. With the help of details furnished by unidentified police officers who were not under oath, the media had a field day after Vincent Tabak’s conviction, publishing interviews not given under oath, in which the call girls the journalists had contacted recounted the encounters they claimed they had had with Vincent Tabak the woman strangler. The girls in California, called Michelle, Rebecca Devine, Princess Butter, and Mimi, earned their fees and obtained excellent publicity by using the telephone for what did best – spinning lurid fantasies and giving each of the British journalists who spoke to them a bulge in his trousers. Vincent Tabak had allegedly subscribed to a portal called AdultWork.com, which provides contact not only to Escorts but also to Phone Chat and a to variety of other “Adult Service Providers”. The alleged encounters are certainly complete fabrications, as the shy Vincent Tabak did no more than engage in sexy Phone Chat in the middle of the night after several weeks away from his girlfriend. If he actually had hired any of them, then the prosecution would certainly have procured a sworn affidavit from each of these legally-practising call-girls, testifying that sex had taken place, to support its allegation of Vincent Tabak’s secret double life and his strangling fetish if. The prosecution had had nine months to do this.

“We never got as far as tracking any of the escorts down”
In a press conference following Tabak’s conviction Detective Inspector Joe Goff, one of the senior detectives in the case, was asked if police visited sex workers Tabak had used. He said: “We never got as far as tracking any of the escorts down. What we had in the USA and other times he was working away was that he would be seeking to make contact with escort girls. That was in his make up. In evidence, we never got as far as contacting any of the girls. We looked at the pattern of internet research, the withdrawal of sums of money from his bank account and telephone contact between him and numbers linked to escort girls.”

Vincent Tabak in Newcastle and California

Vincent Tabak was working hard in Newcastle-on-Tyne for his employer Buro Happold on Monday & Tuesday 10th & 11th May 2010. The young Dutch engineer decided to spend a second night there, paying the bill out of his own pocket, so that he could look round this fascinating Geordie city, with its rich industrial history and the spectacular variety of its bridges spanning the river. Counsel for the Prosecution, however, was able to think only of the characteristic Newcastle dress code, which makes it difficult to distinguish visually between those young women who offer themselves for hire, and those who do not – especially in the springtime.

San Luis Obispo
(Photo: Transition Towns of San Luis Obispo County)
Vincent Tabak was working in Los Angeles in the USA from 6th November 2010 to 11th December 2010. He was the sort of engineer accustomed to a very long working day and he had a hectic schedule. On Saturday 4th December 2010 he took a weekend break to San Luis Obispo, a small coastal town, with sandy beaches and mountains, popular with golfers and cycle enthusiasts, about 320 km away from the hotel where he was staying in Los Angeles, half-way to San Francisco. San Luis Obispo is one of California’s oldest communities. He checked in for the Saturday night at the Peach Tree Inn under the name of Frank (or Francis) Tabak, scrupulously paying with his own credit card rather than Buro Happold’s. What could be more natural for a young engineer away from home, who had been slaving long hours all week, and was keen on travel and cycling? He probably hired a mountain bike while he was there and cycled vigorously round the district.

Peach Tree Inn, San Luis Obispo
However, according to Mr Lickley (who was not under oath), unidentified detectives examining Vincent Tabak’s laptop and his phone records could document that he had spent several late-night hours during these two business trips surfing the internet, researching escorts and strippers. Sometimes he had telephoned one or another of them, and sometimes he took a call from one of the girls he had chatted to, claimed Counsel for the Prosecution. Since his credit card records showed cash withdrawals at the time he spoke on the phone to the girl called Mimi, Mr. Lickley and the media were in no doubt what the cash was to be used for, and misrepresented Vincent Tabak’s innocent sightseeing extensions to his business trips as sinister evidence of a sordid secret life. The manipulative Mr. Lickley did not mention that San Luis Obispo is 320 km from Los Angeles, though The Guardian’s Steven Morris and The Telegraph’s journalist Martin Evans did. The latter also worked out that Vincent Tabak’s visit took place at a weekend.

The press and the prostitutes

“The double life of a killer” was the headline in The Sunday Times above an article by Dipesh Gadher and Kevin Dowling published on 30th October 2011. “Prostitutes and ‘extreme’ porn: the sordid past of the man who murdered Joanna Yeates has been revealed only after his conviction. With its cosy tree swing and creekside rooms, the Peach Tree Inn on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo, 200 miles north of Los Angeles, is no stranger to passing traffic. On a crisp December day last year, Vincent Tabak checked into the cheap motel under a false name. Hours earlier, he had made contact with an “Asian hot sexy girl” called Mimi through an escort agency website and withdrew $200 from a cash machine. Soon after the suspected sexual encounter, the 6ft 4in Dutch engineer moved back into a hotel paid for by his company and calmly contacted his girlfriend, Tanja Morson, back in Britain to tell her how much he was missing her while he was away on business.”

“During a business trip in Los Angeles during autumn 2010”, declared the BBC’s geographically disadvantaged Chris Kelly after the verdict, “the Dutch national contacted an escort agency shortly before withdrawing $200 from a cash machine. He then checked into a different hotel where he was staying under the name of Francis Tabak.”

“Vincent Tabak: Hooked on hookers – Vice secrets of Jo Yeates murderer. He lusted behind girlfriend’s back – LA romp 2 weeks before attack”, wrote ALEX PEAKE and PETE SAMSON, US Editor, in The Sun, 29th October 2011. “VICE-obsessed killer Vincent Tabak led a secret double life — lusting after prostitutes behind the back of the girlfriend he planned to wed. The brute, 33 — who portrayed himself in court as a sexually naive innocent — bedded one just two weeks before he strangled neighbour Jo Yeates. The hooker, who calls herself “Mimi”, was among THREE he called using his BlackBerry phone during a pre-Christmas business trip to Los Angeles — all on the same night. The others sported the names Rebecca Devine and Princess Butter.”

The silence of Buro Happold

Unlike the general public, Buro Happold’s lawyers would have been well aware that the absence of any sworn witness testimony from either a police officer or a prostitute rendered these allegations of “bad character” illusory. A statement from the firm explaining that Mr. Lickley’s shocking allegations had been made under the protection of the court and that neither Vincent Tabak nor any of their other consultants patronised call girls on business trips would undoubtedly have received prominent coverage in the news media. The firm’s silence suggests that the allegations were intended to absolve the global consultancy from a share of the responsiblity for having head-hunted an architect-strangler to England. Buro Happold may have collaborated with the police in devising the strategy involving allegations of “bad character” linked to the absence of any testimony to their own employee’s good character.

Unlike his landlord Christopher Jefferies, the defendant was never given any opportunity, in court nor outside, to refute the allegations about his “secret life” published in the media and the alien identity imposed on him by the judge and the prosecution. Not even the serious media stopped to think that publishing these allegations turned their readers and viewers into voyeurs and was a cruel violation of the innocent girlfriend’s private life. In further demonizing Vincent Tabak, even the serious media also disregarded the obviously huge scale of the sex industry and its implications for the large number of normal, non-strangling, loving engineers and other staff on business trips for Buro Happold and other employers who pay for bedroom comforts as a substitute for those they are missing from their regular (and in many cases glamorous and loving) partners. It was all so phoney and contrived.

Where did Joanna get all that money?

Joanna Yeates
Although Nigel Lickley QC’s lurid accounts of Vincent Tabak’s payment for sex were so demonstrably false, the Prosecutor’s obsession with escorts does reinforce some other evidence suggesting that it may have been prostitution that led to the murder of Joanna Yeates in the first place. The police, the lawyers, the press and her best friend went to great lengths to emphasise her own good character and her loyalty to Greg Reardon, yet it is obvious that she planned to cheat on him that weekend when she was killed, and that he was well aware of it. After her death The Mail had been sufficiently surprised at the size of the estate left by such a young, newly-qualified landscape architect, that the newspaper made public (27th February 2011) her mother’s explanation that Joanna had earned the greater part of the £47,000 herself. Her landlord had given a statement to the police about men he had seen and heard on her front garden path, but his subsequent arrest and media vilification effectively ensured that neither his testimony nor any suspicions he might have had that she was taking clients home to her flat has ever been made public. Was the situation of this flat the reason why she had moved to such a prosperous neighbourhood as Clifton only six weeks earlier? Although two pathologists testified in court and were cross-examined at length, neither volunteered any evidence of Joanna’s sexual activity prior to her death, nor was either asked if he had found any such evidence. The sacrifice of her innocent Dutch neighbour in such a phoney murder trial may have been carried out to protect the identities of her influential clients.

The film star and the hooker

Hugh Grant and Divine Brown
In 1995 British actor Hugh Grant was convicted of illegally having sex with a prostitute called Divine Brown in a car parked in Los Angeles. Despite massive publicity, the episode did no harm to the subsequent careers of either of them, nor to Grant’s relationship with his glamorous girlfriend Liz Hurley, who stayed with him for a further five years, before they split up amicably. In contrast to the reporting of Vincent Tabak, no newspaper reported Grant’s misdemeanor as “Respectable life of loving boyfriend revealed as a lie”. Reaction in the media was utter astonishment that a man with such a lovely girlfriend as Liz Hurley should even want to consort with a prostitute. Has anyone stopped watching his films because of this evidence of Hugh Grant’s bad character?

Material seized by the police in connection with the investigation of crime (usually under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act) must not be disclosed to a third party unless the owner has consented to the disclosure. Since this evidently did not deter the police and the prosecution from disclosing details of Vincent Tabak’s telephone calls to prostitutes to the media, it can confidently be inferred that they had also threatened to tell his girlfriend about these while he was in prison, as a way of alienating her and pressuring him to plead guilty. From the date of Christopher Jefferies’s release from bail it can be inferred that, by 4th March 2011, the Police Liaison Service had given her a lurid and embroidered account, persuading her to abandon him and make no further visits to him in prison.

From This is Bath, 1st November, 2011:
But the prostitutes used by Vincent Tabak in the US weren’t interviewed as part of the murder investigation, according to an experienced police officer close to the case. The officer said: “A number of escort girls were potentially identified, from analysis of pay-as-you-go mobile phones.” But this was never progressed and none of the girls were interviewed.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones, who led the investigation, responded: “During the investigation we worked closely with law enforcement agencies in the USA, establishing Vincent Tabak’s movements during his five-week stay. The trial judge, Mr Justice Field, ruled as inadmissible the evidence of Vincent Tabak’s contact and links to escorts during this visit. Despite this ruling and having listened to all the admissible evidence in this case, the jury found Vincent Tabak guilty of the murder of Joanna Yeates.”

In a press conference following the conviction last Friday, Detective Inspector Joe Goff said: “We never got as far as tracking any of the escorts down. “We looked at the pattern of internet research, the withdrawal of sums of money from his bank account and telephone contact between him and numbers linked to escort girls.”

The strangler in my bed

Although the police deny ever having contacted the prostitutes named by Nigel Lickley QC as having sold their services to Vincent Tabak, a number of journalists did contact the broad-minded ladies, and published their accounts. Most punters would think twice about paying for sex with a girl who had shown so little regard for the need for client confidentiality that she would talk to a journalist about them afterwards. So the newspapers must have paid each of these girls enough for her story to enable her to retire from prostitution. The scale of the fee paid to each girl can be calculated from the hourly rate they evidently charged for their services.

Daily Star, 30th October 2011, By Mike Parker
A YOUNG vice girl sobbed yesterday as she told how twisted killer Vincent Tabak tried to force her to act out his sick sex fantasies. Pervert Tabak, jailed for life for strangling Jo Yeates, tried to throttle Sarah Rayne in a Californian motel room. Sarah, 22, revealed: “...he said, ‘Let me squeeze your neck while we have sex, then’.” ... Sarah was one of at least six hookers Tabak hired while he was working in Los Angeles... Tabak, 33, paid Sarah £150 for a 40-minute session in early December last year after agreeing to meet her in a Valley motel room she and her prostitute cousin rent by the week.

The Mail on Sunday, 30th October 2011, By TED THORNHILL
“… One of the prostitutes he contacted – Princess Butter whose real name is believed to be Christine Smith – said: ‘I am very shocked to hear this about him. He seemed like a very nice man.’ Butter, 24, who charges $120 (£75) an hour, declined to give her account of her encounter with him. Another prostitute, Las Vegas-based Rebecca Devine, slammed down the telephone when asked for comment. Tabak was revealed to have withdrawn $200 to meet a third prostitute, who was known only as ‘Mimi’.”

“... Vincent Tabak ... murdered Jo Yeates just 15 days after visiting Princess Butterfly and paying her $200 (£125) for sex. The prostitute is in shock that she was in such a vulnerable situation with a man now convicted of murder and known to have a fetish for strangling women. She met Tabak – who was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in jail – at his hotel in downtown Los Angeles”.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Mirror (30th October 2011), Princess Butterfly said: “...he seemed like such a nice guy, such a gentleman. He was friendly and charming and I didn’t have any bad feelings. If anything he seemed a little nervous...” Princess Butterfly was one of two call girls he made contact with on 2nd December 2010 during a trip to LA.: “He called and said he wanted to meet up. I told him he had to make a $200 ‘donation’ for two hours. He did not argue about the price. ... He was wearing nice clothes and his shoes were really fancy. He looked skinnier then than he is now, and I thought he was good looking. He wasn’t wearing glasses.” ... Princess Butterfly, who has been selling sex for four years since she was 19, ... can make £2,500 a week.

The crying girl

The day after Vincent Tabak was arrested, The Sun carried an exclusive allegation by unnamed police officers that it had been a telephone tip-off from a sobbing girl that had led detectives to Joanna Yeates’s Dutch neighbour. Nothing in the newspaper’s story gave any indication that the girl might have been ringing from abroad, nor who she might have been, let alone a prostitute. Legal journalist Sally Ramage (Criminal Law News, Issue 39, January 2012), however, believed that the police may subsequently have linked this crying girl to the Californian prostitutes whose details they and Mr. Lickley fed to the press on some unknown date between the plea hearing and the trial.

This would have been ridiculous, for the obvious reason that, at the time when the alleged crying girl is claimed to have phoned the police, there was nothing publicly to link a European client from the UK who allegedly had enjoyed massaging the neck of a Los Angeles prostitute, and the unsolved murder by strangulation of a young woman in a British city. It is unlikely that the death of Joanna Yeates rated even a mention in the American news media. It is inconceivable that Vincent Tabak, who had allegedly paid cash, would have given his name to a call-girl. So what possible scenario could have prompted Princess Butterfly or any of the other Californian call-girls to pay for an international telephone call to Avon & Somerset Constabulary?