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.

Vincent Tabak and Buro Happold

“I hope we can continue our friendship, even after we have spread all over the world”

- Vincent Tabak in the Preface to his doctoral thesis, 26th January 2009

Vincent Tabak was born in Veghel on 10th February 1978, youngest child of Sonja and Gerald. He was brought up in the nearby small town of Uden, near Eindhoven in the Netherlands. He has three sisters and a brother, and seven young nieces and nephews. From the ages of 12 to 18 he attended Kruisheren Kollege (the College of the Holy Cross), a grant-aided Catholic grammar school with a history doing back to 1743.

At the age of 18 Vincent Tabak began studying at the faculty of architecture, building and planning at Eindhoven University of Technology. He graduated in 2003 with a master of science degree.

He started a Ph.D the same year, his topic being a study of how people use space in buildings and public areas, and how to simulate this on a computer. He became close friends with a somewhat younger fellow-researcher, Erik Blokhuis, who would tell The Sun (22nd January 2011) that they had worked together for two years. They would often go to the cinema together and meet up for drinks. His friend recounted that Vincent Tabak had been sociable and hard-working, adding that he had organised events that included bowling and poker tournaments and a five-day cricket match. He had also put on a “multicultural Christmas dinner” in 2006, where foreign students used local specialties to cook a festive feast, and then had sung carols together.

Vincent Tabak was 29 when he finished his research project. He left university in the summer of 2007.

Even before his doctoral thesis was completed, he was head-hunted in September 2007 to work at the Bath headquarters of the global architectural consultant firm Buro Happold, where he worked as a “people flow analyst”, examining how people moved around offices, hospitals, schools, airports and sports stadiums.

Walcot Parade, Bath
Quiet and mild-mannered Vincent Tabak initially struggled to settle into life in Britain. He lived alone in a one-bedroom flat flat in Walcot Parade, Bath, and was seldom seen by neighbours socialising. Few people who have not tried it themselves have any concept of how difficult it is for a highly skilled migrant professional to settle in a different country, and this is particularly true of EU member states. He had no family nor friends of long standing in the UK to form the basis for a new social network.

One resident on the street where he lived in Bath would later tell The Mail: ‘He was a very nice and considerate young man. We were sad when he left. He was very personable and polite.’ The neighbour, who didn’t wish to be named, said the ‘quiet and helpful’ man would often invite friends and family from Holland to his rented home. (The Mail Online, 21st January 2011)

He lived all alone in Walcot Parade for nearly two years, yet no one has come forward with any evidence that he attempted to force his attentions on any woman in Bath. Nothing said publicly by the Tabak or Yeates families, nor anything said in court, indicates that Joanna Yeates 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.’”

“Soulmate” Tanja Morson
Vincent Tabak’s father Gerald, who was also an engineer, died in 2008. His widowed mother is over 70 years old and cannot speak English.

He met his girlfriend Tanja Morson in 2008, through The Guardian’s dating site Soulmates. They moved in together in the larger ground-floor flat at 44 Canynge Road in June 2009. According to Erik Blokhuis, Vincent took Tanja to Eindhoven to meet him, and she made a very good impression on him because she was so open and friendly. It was clear that they were very happy together, and subsequent encounters confirmed his belief that the couple would marry.

44 Canynge Rd, Clifton
Vincent Tabak defended his doctoral thesis “User Simulation of Space Utilisation” on 26th January 2009. He must surely be the first sane person with a Ph.D ever to be convicted of murdering a complete stranger without having any motive. Eindhoven Technical University is contaminated by the evil of silence in the face of the rape of its alumnus. It owes its very existence to the global mobility of its students and scholars, yet it evidently regards them as expendable. The University has betrayed all of them by failing to speak out when one of its keenest, smartest and most optimistic graduates is bizarrely convicted in another European country for a crime that could have been committed only by a mindless psychopath.

In the Preface to the thesis he wrote:

User Simulation of Space Utilisation
“… I am very grateful to my friends … in the Design Systems group. We spent much time on building this network, but even more time outside of work on social activities, like sailing, bowling or simply going for a drink after work (e.g. the Sky Bar). I hugely enjoyed the time we spent together and it contributed to enjoying being a PhD. I hope we can continue our friendship, even after we have spread all over the world.
“I wish to express my gratitude to my friends and (ex) colleagues in the SMART group at Buro Happold, namely Laurent Giampellegrini, Al Fisher, Rob(ert) Hart, Julia Bush, Jay Parker, Andrew Dixon and my boss Shrikant Sharma. They welcomed me and helped me to adjust to my life in a new country and new working environment.

“I would like to thank the people who are closest to me, namely my parents, Sonja and Gerald, my sisters, brother and in-laws, Ilse & Frans, Marcel & Paulie, Cora, Eileen & Bart, and all my nieces and nephews, Anja, Lars, Pier, Noor, Droen, Timo and Jarne. They all supported me and showed interest on a personal level, each in their own way. I owe special thanks to my sister Cora for proof reading my thesis. The last couple of months of the PhD my sympathy lied with my father for his ongoing struggle, which in the end was in vain. I miss you and regret that you are not able to see the end result of my PhD. In addition, I want to express my admiration for my oldest niece, Anja, for her fighting character.

“Last but not least, I want to thank my girlfriend Tanja Morson for her support in the last difficult month of my PhD. I am very happy that she entered my life.”

Buro Happold

Buro Happold headquarters in Bath
(source: Sky News)
Buro Happold, the firm that head-hunted Vincent Tabak to England, is a professional services firm providing engineering consultancy, design, planning, project management and consulting services for all aspects of buildings, infrastructure and the environment, with its head office in Bath, Somerset. It was founded in 1976, by Sir Edmund Happold in Bath in the southwest of England when he left Ove Arup and Partners to take up a post at the University of Bath as Professor of Architecture and Engineering Design.

Originally working mainly on projects in the Middle East, the firm now operates worldwide and in almost all areas of engineering for the built environment, with offices in seven countries. The parent company owns the subsidiary companies Happold Consulting, Happold Media and Happold Safe and Secure. The firm includes a number of specialist engineering consultancy groups, including fire engineering and lighting consultancy.

Edmund, or Ted, Happold worked at Arup before founding Buro Happold, where he worked on projects such as the Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Centre. Ted Happold was a leader in the field of lightweight and tensile structures and Buro Happold has as a result undertaken a large number of tensile and other lightweight structures since its founding, including the Millennium Dome. Ted Happold died in 1996, but the firm claims to maintain his views on engineering and life.

Like any global business that head-hunts foreign experts, Buro Happold understood that their responsibility towards member of staff like Vincent Tabak was broader than local staff with family and well-established social networks in the UK. His boss and his colleagues knew him better than anyone else in England, and they knew how trustworthy he was. Like any other businessmen, the partners understood the importance of mutual trust in all aspects of society.

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.

12 days after Joanna Yeates and Greg Reardon moved into the flat next-door, Vincent Tabak’s firm sent him to work 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
Motel manager Claire Atieh recalled that Vincent Tabak was alone when he checked into room 112 at around 9 p.m. She said: ‘I remember him clearly because he was tall, well over 6ft, and had a funny accent. He wasn’t threatening at all. He was tired but very polite. I am used to weird people walking in here but he was a perfect gentleman. I could see his room from this desk and he went in alone and spent the night alone. He only came out once and that was to fix himself a cup of tea in the lobby.’ (The Mail Online, 30th October 2011)

Alone at home

The Great Mosque in Mecca
While he was at work on Friday, 17th December 2010, Vincent Tabak was modelling the movement of pilgrims in and around the great mosque in Mecca. This was a project for which Buro Happold was tendering. His girlfriend Tanja Morson went off with her colleagues after work to a Christmas party for Dyson staff, having prudently left her Renault Megane at home. She would be there until after midnight. After his day at work, Vincent Tabak left Buro Happold in Bath at 6.15 p.m. and took the train to Bristol Temple Meads, where he arrived at 6.40 p.m. He cycled home to 44 Canynge Road and the prospect of an evening on his own.

He went for a walk with the idea of taking photographs of the snow, but evidently found no scenes that caught his eye. At 7.15 p.m. he received texts from Tanja Morson. One of them ran, “Love you. Bus is very quiet and tame. Only me and Nic drinking”. He replied, “Love you too” and then “Missing you”. On his computer he looked at a Dutch newspaper, a bank website, Google, and the webmail for Dyson.

The time display at the bottom left-hand corner of
the CCTV video capturing Vincent Tabak in Asda
has been blurred out to make it illegible.
At 9.25 p.m., in a message to his girlfriend, while she was attending her office Christmas party, Vincent Tabak sent a text that read: “Missing you loads, it is boring here without you Vxx.” About 10.15 p.m. he took her car and drove across the Clifton suspension bridge over the River Avon to the Asda supermarket in Bedminster. He was captured there on CCTV cameras, wearing his black overcoat, entering and leaving and walking along an aisle. He purchased beer, crisps and rock salt in Asda. He sent a text message to his girlfriend at 10.30 p.m. “How are you. I am at Asda buying crisis. I am bored cannot wait to pick you up.”

Early in the morning on Saturday 18th December 2010 he drove into Bristol in the Renault Megane to await the arrival of the special bus for Dyson staff. At 1.32 a.m. he got a phone call from Tanja to say that she was ready for him to collect her (The Mirror, 11th October 2011).  A few moments later they popped into a takeaway to collect a hot late-night snack to eat before bedtime. The couple were captured on CCTV there walking arm-in-arm. It was 1.38 a.m., according to The Independent’s Rod Minchin (28th October 2011). The snack was a burger, according to The Telegraph (28th October 2011).

The driveway at 44 Canynge Rd leading to the
private car park where Vincent Tabak helped
Christopher Jefferies move his car
In the course of that Saturday, Christopher Jefferies asked Vincent Tabak for help with moving his car on the icy ground in the private car park associated with 44 Canynge Road after heavy snow had fallen during the night. “That’s what neighbours are for!” replied the young man cheerfully to the older man’s thanks. Vincent Tabak and Tanja Morson noticed that the landlord’s Volvo was facing the opposite direction from the evening before. It was parked facing the road. On the Friday evening it had been parked facing away from the road. It is possible that Vincent and Tanja noticed evidence of activity, such as lights being switched on or off, in the neighbouring flat, at a time when there was supposed to be no one at home.

Birthday party down on Bristol’s harbourside
That Saturday evening, Tanja Morson and Vincent Tabak attended a party together, at the Pitcher & Piano, down on Bristol’s harbourside, to celebrate the 24th birthday of one of Tanja’s friends, Elizabeth Marland. The young woman had stayed with Tanja for three weeks while Vincent was working in the USA. Her mother, Linda Marland, had chatted to Vincent Tabak during the evening while he was drinking a glass of champagne. She had asked him about his recent 5-week business trip to California, but would recount that: “Vincent sounded tired and disinterested.” She meant ‘uninterested’, but obviously Mrs. Marland did not know the difference. Perhaps that explained why he was not very interested in her. “He was being short with his answers, not elaborating. I found it quite difficult. He looked at me only once. The rest of the time he was staring up the room. I got the impression Vincent was bored with my conversation.” She would add that Tanja and Vincent had left the party without saying goodbye.

Greg Reardon claimed that he saw both Vincent Tabak and Tanja Morson walk past his window when they returned home. It has not emerged where they went on the evening of Sunday 19th December 2010.

44 Canynge Road, Clifton
Do you know where your neighbour is?

At 4.15 a.m. on Monday 20th December 2010, Vincent Tabak was woken by a knock on the front door at 44 Canynge Road, Clifton. He opened it to find WPC Anneliese Jackson standing there with another police officer and a man whom they introduced to him as Greg Reardon. WPC Jackson asked him if he knew anything about his neighbour Joanna Yeates’s disappearance. Tanja Morson joined in the conversation after a few moments.

A year later, in the TV documentary “Murder at Christmas” Joanna’s parents fabricated an anecdote in which they claimed they had been approached just outside the house by Tanja Morson and Vincent Tabak while they were going round in the snow and the dark looking for clues to the cause of their daughter’s disappearance. Tanja, they explained, had asked, “Is there anything I can do?” She had shown great sympathy for their situation, they claimed, whereas her boyfriend had taken a step back, and did not say anything. This malicious attempt to discredit Vincent conflicts with what David Yeates would tell reporters the day Vincent was arrested: “I have never heard of Vincent Tabak, nor had Jo ever mentioned him. I have never met anyone who lives in flat two of Jo’s block.”

Extracts from the affectionate and sympathetic e-mails that Vincent Tabak exchanged with his girlfriend while he was at his desk at Buro Happold and she was at hers at Dyson during Monday 20th December 2010 and the succeeding two days were made available to the jury and the news media by the prosecution at his trial.

Joanna Yeates
That evening, Glen O’Hare, a lecturer friend of Tanja Morson’s, hosted a dinner that she attended with her boyfriend. Vincent Tabak had seemed worried, tired and slightly miserable, and had remarked that he had not seen Joanna Yeates’s cat during the weekend she went missing. In a statement he gave to police that was read out in court, Glen O’Hare testified that he remembered Vincent Tabak playing with his two cats, while the rest of the group discussed the case of his missing neighbour.

Christopher Jefferies has told the Leveson Inquiry that on Tuesday 21st December 2010 he gave a statement to the police, who were at that time taking statements from all the residents of 44 Canynge Road. He recounted that the police had told each of them that they should get back in touch if they subsequently remembered anything that could be material. According to Sky News (tweet on 17th October 2011), Detective Constable Simon Mills asked Vincent Tabak and his girlfriend about their movements on the evening of Friday 17th December 2010. Vincent Tabak told DC Mills that he had been for a walk with the idea of taking photographs of the snow and had driven to Asda.

Vincent Tabak approached his team leader at Buro Happold, Dr. Shrikant Sharma, for a “confidential chat”. He explained that the constant police activity at 44 Canynge Road made him feel “stressed”, and he would appreciate less pressure, as he had “difficulty concentrating” on his work.

A Detective Constable, Karen Thomas, came to search their flat, possibly while the occupants were out, either before they departed for Cambridge, or afterwards.

Cambridge and Holland

After work on Wednesday 23rd December 2010, Vincent Tabak and Tanja Morson packed their luggage into her Renault Megane and left Clifton in it to spend Christmas with her parents at Babraham near Cambridge. According to The Guardian (28th October 2011), Detective Constable Karen Thomas, a member of the police’s major crime investigation team, telephoned Vincent Tabak on Christmas Eve. She asked him about his movements on the night of Joanna Yeates’s disappearance. He alleged that he was in his flat all evening, before driving in the early hours of the morning to pick up Tanja Morson after her works party. He also told her that he had not known Joanna Yeates personally. She asked him to telephone her if he should remember seeing or hearing anything or anyone acting suspiciously during the weekend of Friday, December 17th to Sunday 19th December. Did Vincent Tabak also tell DC Thomas that he and Tanja Morson had noticed signs of activity, such as lights being switched on, in the neighbouring flat, at a time when no one was supposed to have been at home?

Tanja’s father, Geoffrey Morson, subsequently told The Daily Telegraph that their family enjoyed a “perfectly ordinary” family Christmas together. There was no hint of anything troubling their daughter’s boyfriend, even when they heard the news on Christmas morning that a woman’s body had been discovered. Geoffrey Morson paraphrased an observation of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard to The Daily Telegraph (28th October 2011), “You live your life in a forward direction, not a backwards one. Vincent and Tanja were quite normal.”

Then on 28th December 2010 they travelled to the Netherlands through the Channel Tunnel for the new year, and visited Vincent’s mother, his brother, his three sisters and his seven young nieces and nephews. The extended family spent six days at a remote holiday cottage in the country. They went on walks and played party games. The children made the most of the snow. Nobody noticed him acting any differently, though he did explain to the adults how upsetting it had been to be neighbours to a murder victim. With the New Year greetings that he e-mailed Erik Blokhuis in China, Vincent told his friend from Eindhoven days that he and Tanja had decided to get married (according to The Daily Telegraph, 28th October 2011).

Their landlord
Christopher Jefferies
had been arrested
After seeing news reports of the arrest of their landlord on TV or the internet, Tanja telephoned Detective Constable Karen Thomas on 30th December 2010, probably to tell her that their landlord had given them a much more precise account of his sightings of people in Joanna’s front path than he had told the journalists on TV, and also what they had noticed about the change in the position of Christopher Jefferies’s car overnight. They agreed that she and Vincent would meet up with the detective at Schiphol the next day to make their statements. This rendezvous occupied the whole of their new year’s eve, and was much more unsettling than they had expected. Nevertheless, like many a law-abiding person before them, they failed to recognise the ominous signs.

Tanja Morson and Vincent Tabak returned to England on 2nd January 2011. They called at their flat at 44 Canynge Rd to pick up some belongings, then took their stuff and settled into Emily Williams’s flat at 37 Aberdeen Road, Cotham.

Sarah Maddock
On 15th January 2011, engineer Andrew Lillie and his partner Laura hosted a dinner party at their home in the St. Andrews district of Bristol. Vincent and Tanja were among the guests. Their affection towards each other was apparent to everyone, and they admitted that they had decided to get married before the year was out. They had no inkling of the evil that was about to engulf them. At one point during the evening, one of the guests, Louise Apthorpe, remarked: “I wonder how the murderer must be feeling... If it was me, I wouldn’t be able to sleep”. According to Tanja’s close friend Sarah Maddock, who is a solicitor with two young children, and was sitting next to Vincent, they discussed the likelihood that someone other than Joanna’s killer must have known about it, and that the offender’s partner must have noted strange behaviour. Vincent, who she said was his usual calm and quiet self and didn’t appear at all uncomfortable or anxious that evening, agreed, remarking, “Either that - or someone would have to be a totally detached crazy person to be able to act normally after doing something like that”. According to Louise Apthorpe, Vincent Tabak had appeared “happy and relaxed” throughout the evening.

Vincent and Tanja told the others about their new year’s eve protracted interview by detectives from Bristol in Schiphol. He tried to lighten the atmosphere by telling them that the police had searched his and Tanja’s flat before Christmas. “Vincent just made a small remark about how police opened a drawer so they could look for a body. This was said in a light-hearted way. Vincent”, recounted Andrew Lillie, “interjected with a few things but it was mainly Tanja who did the talking.” Vincent remarked how he’d not seen Joanna Yeates’s kitten at all during the weekend when she had disappeared.

His only press interview

Hillary Douglas
About 16th or 17th January 2011, Vincent Tabak told a journalist, The Express’s Hillary Douglas: “I wasn’t here on the night Joanna Yeates went missing, I was away and I don’t know anyone who saw or heard anything. I only come back here at weekends with all the upset. The feeling around here is not a nice one now. It is as if the area has been blighted by what’s happened. We are all very sad about it, and although I didn’t know Miss Yeates, I am deeply saddened by what happened.” (The Sun, 25th January 2011)

Hilary Douglas was so unnerved by what she would later describe as Vincent Tabak’s piercing eyes, his spine-chilling calm and superior height, that she told a fib about his being away on the night Joanna went missing. The Sunday Express would miss the scoop of the century by dropping her interview with the Dutch mountain biker into the wastepaper basket instead of publishing it straightaway.


37 Aberdeen Road, Cotham
At 5.55 a.m. on 20th January 2011, Vincent Tabak was woken by a knock on the door of the flat in 37 Aberdeen Road, Cotham, where he and Tanja Morson were staying. He opened the door to find police officers standing there. Detective Constable Geoffrey Colvin told him that he was under arrest in connection with the death of Joanna Yeates, and cautioned him. He was too shocked to say anything. He was taken at once to Trinity Road police station. He was never released again nor granted bail. Police took away his glasses and loaned him plastic glasses which he had to use for at least five days, even though he protested that he could not see who was speaking to him with these. After he 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 speaks fluent English and stated that he did not require an interpreter during his court appearances.

Trinity Road Police Station
Despite having his own dinner-table remark about Joanna Yeates’s killer being “some crazy, detached person” thrown back in his face during his trial, this was the best the Prosecution could do. If they had any evidence that Vincent Tabak had ever been professionally diagnosed with any kind of mental or anti-social psychological disorder, either prior to his arrest for murder, or in connection with it, they would have produced it as evidence at his trial. He had no police record, nor had he ever been inside a police station prior to his arrest. He told the nurse who made a medical examination of him at the time of his arrest, Ruth Booth-Pearson, that he was normally “happy” and had no previous mental health problems. When he was charged with murder, everyone who knew him immediately declared that he could not possible have killed Joanna Yeates.

Journalists outside 37, Aberdeen Road, Cotham, reported that police officers took three wheelie bins and a mountain bike from the house. There was no mention of the removal of Tanja’s Renault Megane, nor any other car. It was never seen by the press. Until the trial, the public couldn’t imagine how he could have transported a body to Longwood Lane. Only one prosecution witness would testify to its existence.

The Sun, 22 January 2011: Vincent Tabak’s family told journalists that it was “impossible to imagine” that the mild-mannered intellectual was a killer. His brother Marcel — speaking at his home in Doornenburg, 60 miles east of Amsterdam — said: “He’s a lovely man. I absolutely think they have got the wrong person. I have no idea why they have arrested him.” Marcel’s ex-wife Pauline, who is still very close to the family and also lives in Doornenburg, said: “He is definitely innocent. This is totally out of the blue. I know Vincent very well. I cannot imagine that he could ever have done anything like this. Vincent a murderer? It’s unthinkable. It’s just impossible to imagine. He is a calm, intelligent boy.” Later she would add: “We know, from the bottom of our hearts, that he didn’t do it. He is a nice boy.” [Pauline is the mother to three of Vincent’s seven young nieces and nephews.]

Marlyn Aretz, the secretary in the Design Systems department in the faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at Eindhoven University, said: “I can’t believe Vincent could be arrested for something like this. He’s a very serious, hard-working guy. I stayed in touch with him after he left Eindhoven to work in Bath. He spoke about his girlfriend, Tanja, a lot. I thought they were very happy and settled.”

A former fellow student in Eindhoven, Jeroen Harink, quoted in The Sun, said of Vincent Tabak’s arrest for murder: “I’m totally shocked. I had to think to remember who Vincent is because he was such a quiet and serious person. He was generally known by everyone for being very smart and very hard-working. I think he was a nice guy — but I would never see him out in the bars or clubs.”

Daan Willems added: “He was just an ordinary guy, just a boy, just normal. I can’t imagine anything like this could be possible.”

One unidentified colleague at Buro Happold in Bath told The Sun about Vincent Tabak: “He is everything you expect from a Dutch bloke. “He’s quiet, very laid-back and from what I know has a good sense of humour. He never seems to be flustered and is very polite. Vincent is an incredibly intelligent man. He was popular, and never struck me as the sort of person who had enemies.”

Louisa Wickham, 27, told The Sun that she had worked with Vincent Tabak for a year. She said: “He was quiet but a very cheerful and friendly guy. He was well thought of and was always being sent to other offices to help out. He was very clever and very good at his job. When he first moved here he lived in Bath. But he met his girlfriend in 2008 and moved to Bristol to be with her. He seemed very in love with her.”

Another unidentified colleague at Buro Happold told The Sun: “Vincent works as part of a small team. Most people know him but I doubt many would class him as a friend.”

No one any journalist spoke to who knew him prior to his arrest could produce any anecdotes indicating any propensity to mood swings or violent behaviour. In contrast to the defamatory things some newspapers published about the landlord during his three days under arrest, all anyone could ever find to say about Vincent Tabak’s temperament was that he was a quiet, industrious loner. Nor did either the prosecution nor his defence take any steps to question the witness best qualified to testify on this issue before the jury nor to call any other witnesses who would have been qualified to do so. An undisclosed agreement had evidently been made between the defence and the prosecution prohibiting the jury from hearing any independent evidence of the defendant’s behaviour prior to the killing and of his character.

The charge of murder

Vincent Tabak was charged with murder 28 days after Joanna’s body was found, at 9.30 p.m. on Saturday, 22nd January 2011.

The Telegraph, 23rd January 2011:
Speaking at her home in Utrecht in the Netherlands, Dr. Cora Tabak said: “I have been sitting open-mouthed since Vincent was charged. It’s unbelievable – he is my little brother and I know him very well. He is innocent. The whole family were shocked, we’re completely overcome. We can't believe it. Anyone who knows him knows he could never be a killer. He is very gentle and social. There is no aggressiveness in him in any way. He is a straightforward and open person. What you see is what you get. His girlfriend Tanja is as upset and shocked as well, they are still very much together and she is very concerned about him. We’ve been speaking to her twice a day, the rumours that they have split up are very much wrong.”

Approached at his home in Doornenburg in the eastern Netherlands, Marcel Tabak said of his brother: “It is nonsense, he has been made a scapegoat. I can’t imagine they have got anything on him – the police have panicked and arrested him and then charged him … There is no way Vincent could have done this. It is completely impossible. My mother is very upset by this, we all are.”

The January hearings

Bristol Magistrates’ Court
36 hours after being charged with the murder of Joanna Yeates, Monday 24th January 2011, Vincent Tabak appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court. On learning that bail would be applied for, the Magistrate, William Summers, referred the prisoner to a bail hearing the following day, Tuesday 25th January 2011, before Judge Colman Treacy. Despite the night of terror his client had just spent in Bristol Prison at Horfield, the lawyer representing him, Paul Cook, told the judge that bail would not now be applied for. Neither Tanja Morson nor anyone else who knew Vincent Tabak attended any of his preliminary public hearings.

Horfield Prison, Bristol
In the Netherlands, Marcel and Cora Tabak responded to the way their gentle and courteous younger brother was being shuttled around by appointing a professional spokesman, Paul Vermeij. “Vincent’s family is deeply shocked and fully confident that he is not guilty or involved. The family very much sympathises with the relatives of the victim.” Trying to rectify some of the problems created by Paul Cook’s reticence in Bristol Magistrates’ Court, Mr Vermeij said that Vincent Tabak and Ms Morson had spent the time from Christmas Eve until 28th December 2010 with her family in Cambridge. They had then travelled to see his family in Holland on 28th December 2010, spending the New Year with members of his family at a remote country cottage, as is traditional for Dutch people. The family had spent six days at the holiday cottage, where they went on walks and played party games. Paul Vermeij said: “Nobody noticed him acting any differently. They are convinced he is innocent.” The couple had returned to Britain on 2nd January 2011.

Tabak family spokesman Paul Vermeij
Paul Vermeij also told journalists that Vincent was angry that police had taken away his glasses for forensic tests. He had been given a replacement pair, but he said that they were of poor quality and that he was unable to see who was speaking to him at the hearing. “He was taken to court as an almost blind man,” he added.

By Alun Palmer in Eindhoven, The Mirror, 26th January 2011:
“Vincent Tabak’s relatives are to fly to Britain so they can see him in prison… His mum Sonja, who is in her 70s, and brother and sisters have talked about flying out within the week. The Tabak family’s spokesman, Paul Vermeij, said they want to make sure he is coping in jail. He said: ‘They haven’t decided who will go across as they are all professional people but they want to see him, of course.’”

Explaining that Vincent had talked on 26th January 2011 to his girlfriend, Tanja Morson, Paul Vermeij issued a statement: “Vincent seems to be coping with what has happened to him. He has remained positive about it. He told her ‘I am safe, I am positive’. He is confident there will be a good outcome to this. He says the prison staff are treating him well. His girlfriend and his family have received many letters of support from friends and she told him about them.” (The Mirror, 27th January 2011)

Bristol Crown Court
He was moved to Gloucester Prison for one night. The next time Vincent Tabak appeared before Judge Treacy, it was by video-link from Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire, on Monday 31st January 2011, to settle the provisional timetable for his case. A remark made by Judge Treacy indicates that, shortly after this hearing, Vincent Tabak received a visit from a lawyer who discussed his case with him. The subsequent testimony in court of the prison chaplain indicates that this lawyer, who was probably from Crossman Solicitors, may have recommended Vincent Tabak to plead guilty of manslaughter.

Marcel Tabak speaks out

By Marijke van den Berg, RNW, 2nd February 2011.
[The video interview from Radio Netherlands Worldwide was conducted by an unidentified male.]

Dutchman Vincent T could not have murdered Joanna Yeates. At least that is what his family in the Netherlands says. Vincent has been arrested in connection with the now infamous English case. He is suspected of strangling his 25 year old neighbour in Bristol and dumping her body along the road. The case has received a lot of media coverage and until now Vincent’s family has been silent. But his brother Marcel has now broken the silence.

[speaking in Dutch with English subtitles]

“I really cannot imagine that he could do something like this. I have known him for a long time. He’s really friendly, warm and helpful. It’s always been nice to do things with him.”

“And that’s why you think he didn’t do it?”


Marcel says his brother’s arrest came as a complete surprise.

“I thought: how is this possible? It’s just a horrible feeling.”

Just after Joanna’s body was found, Vincent was in the Netherlands visiting his family.

“We went together on vacation. It snowed. We rode a sled and enjoyed ourselves. At a certain point he called the adults apart from the children. He told us that he knew about what happened with his neighbour. He said the the house had been turned inside out and that his flat had been searched too. He said there was a lot of media. So that was disrupting his life.”

Nothing in his brother’s story made Marcel think his brother had committed murder. Marcel even remember’s that Vincent’s girlfriend was worried about her and Vincent’s safety.

“I know that his girlfriend was worried. She was nervous, because if that could happen to the neighbour then it could happen to her.”

Marcel and the rest of the family said they don’t understand why Vincent is a suspect. They have little information and have seen no evidence.

“There’s a lot of speculation in the papers and on the internet. But what is true? I don’t know. I don’t have the facts. Absolutely nothing.”

“– You don’t know why he was arrested or what he is accused of?”


Long Lartin prison, Worcestershire
On the same day as this TV interview with Marcel Tabak was shown, Vincent Tabak held the first of three confidential conversations that he had requested with the so-called prison chaplain, Peter Brotherton, whose counsel he had sought. The third of these, on 8th February 2011, two days before his 33rd birthday, would subsequently be misrepresented by the chaplain under cross-examination by defence counsel in court as a confession. Not until the conclusion of the third counselling session did the chaplain notify the prisoner that the contract between the Home Office and the Salvation Army required him to notify the prison authorities of the substance of their conversations. He probably also revealed that he was also a senior officer at a Cambridgeshire prison, Whitemoor. Vincent Tabak was evidently so angered by these admissions that his lip trembled noticeably.

Joanna Yeates’s brother
and parents
TABAKS’ TRIBUTE FOR JOANNA YEATES - Daily Star Sunday6th February 2011 (By Gareth Dorrian): MURDER suspect Vincent Tabak’s family want to send Joanna Yeates’ parents a sympathy letter, we can reveal. But the family, who believe Tabak is innocent, will not send it until after landscape architect Joanna’s funeral this Friday. Paul Vermeij, the family’s spokesman, told the Daily Star Sunday: “They would like to give their sympathy. But they are the family of the man suspected of murder so it makes it very complicated.”

Joanna Yeates’s funeral was held on 11th February 2011, the day after Vincent Tabak’s birthday. It was no coincidence that The Sun sent its crime reporter John Coles and two photographers to Long Lartin to capture their exclusive story of his first family visit after nineteen days in captivity. Home Office rules permit three visits per week to “ordinary” remand prisoners, but Joanna Yeates was evidently no ordinary murder victim, and Vincent Tabak was no ordinary prisoner. His visitors were his girlfriend Tanja Morson and his brother Marcel Tabak, accompanied by a female family friend from the Netherlands, who was not named.  The Home Office probably intended to ensure that Tanja Morson did not attract media sympathy by attending her neighbour’s funeral.

13th February 2011: After finally visiting his brother in prison (together with Tanja Morson) on the day of Joanna’s funeral, Marcel Tabak told a journalist from The Sun that he was convinced Vincent was innocent.

The plea and pre-trial hearings

The Old Bailey
The plea and case-management hearing was scheduled for 4th May 2011, but members of the public who went to Bristol Crown Court that day in the hope of a place in the public gallery learnt that the day’s programme included no hearing at which Vincent Tabak was the defendant. It cannot be ruled out that the prisoner was tricked into taking part in a dummy hearing during which he entered a plea of Not Guilty via video link from Long Lartin to a studio perporting to be a courtroom in Bristol peopled by a clerk, a judge and lawyers played by actors. The only evidence for this is that the hearing reported by the press took place on 5th May 2011 at the Old Bailey in London before Mr. Justice Richard Field. William Clegg QC made his first appearance for the defence. Apart from law officials, only journalists and Joanna’s parents were present. Thanks to these measures, no one in the coutroom knew the defendant. None of them had even met him in person, so no credance can be given to the legitimacy of the person on the video screen who identified himself as Vincent Tabak when he entered the plea Guilty of Manslaughter. This is born out by the reaction of family spokesman Paul Vermeij: “This is shocking news. I am very surprised. There was no suggestion of this at all.” Vincent Tabak’s friend Joran Jessurun, a software engineer at Eindhoven University, tweeted: “I didn’t expect that.”

On 20th September 2011 Vincent Tabak appeared at Bristol Crown Court for a pre-trial hearing. Presumably the trial judge had another engagement, as Judge Martin Picton took his place. He was disconcerted by the defendant’s failure to submit his “enhanced” statement, and made an order for it to be delivered within three days. With evident reluctance, Vincent Tabak signed this treacherous document on 22nd September 2011.

The team leader from Buro Happold

Vincent Tabak was transported from Long Lartin prison to Bristol Crown Court each day during his trial, which opened on 4th October 2011 with the selection, swearing-in and instruction of the jury. The trial proper, however, did not begin until 11th October 2011, with Counsel for the Prosecution’s opening speech. Joanna’s parents were in court on the first day. The defendant had obviously been advised to avoid making eye contact with them or anyone else, except a member of his own family or a person who was addressing him. He held his head in his hands, staring at the floor, for much of the time. Sometimes he removed his glasses to wipe his eyes, sometimes he covered his eyes, and occasionally he took notes. His brother, Marcel Tabak, was also in court.

On 15th October 2011, the press reported that Vincent Tabak wept in the dock when a harrowing succession of photos of the injuries on Joanna’s body were inflicted on the court as if in a horror movie. The press implied that his were tears of remorse. On 17th October 2011, he covered his face with his hands while her boyfriend was in the witness box telling the jury about all the evidence of a struggle that he claimed he had found in the flat.

Eight months earlier, the press and the public had been misled about the absence of any signs of a struggle in Joanna’s flat and the absence of other injuries on her body. Only now was the jury, the press and the public hearing the opposite. Vincent Tabak’s misery in court and the disastrous failure of his own subsequent defence to account for the injuries and the disorder in the flat strongly suggests that even his own lawyers had treacherously withheld this evidence from him until now.

Team leader Dr. Shrikant Sharma.
His testimony was trivial
On 17th October 2011, the prosecution read out in court a witness statement from Dr. Shrikant Sharma, Vincent Tabak’s team boss at Buro Happold, who testified that the accused had asked him for a ‘confidential chat’ four days after the murder, when he had described himself as feeling ‘stressed’ at the police activity in the house where he and his girlfriend lived as the missing person inquiry intensified. He was the only witness who had known the accused prior to the murder (apart from Tanja Morson’s friends). 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. Yet his testimony was trivial. All that Vincent Tabak’s team leader at the Bath office of the global engineering consultancy where they both worked told the court was that Vincent Tabak had confessed to having ‘difficulty concentrating’.

Neither Counsel called this witness to testify in person and be cross-examined. Counsel for the Defence 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 the unreported, manipulative and deceitful agreement between the defence and the prosecution not to submit any independent evidence of the defendant’s character to the jury, neither Counsel took the opportunity to cross-examine someone who should have been a key witness about the defendant’s character. Dr. Sharma was not asked whether he considered Vincent Tabak to be an intelligent, trustworthy, considerate and emotionally stable high achiever, or (in the words used by his own defence QC, the prosecuting QC, the judge and the CPS) a disgusting, crazy, detached, deceitful, manipulative, self-centred liar. Neither Counsel asked the witness whether the defendant had ever to his knowledge done anything “disgusting” before the 17th December 2010, when he allegedly dumped Joanna’s body in Longwood Lane.

How can the team leader live with such disloyalty to a member of his team when his support was most needed? If Dr. Sharma had been put into the position of having to state that his employee of more than three years’ standing was of good character, then he would discredit himself for having failed to spot a potential killer in his team. If, conversely, Dr. Sharma had acknowledged that the defendant was of bad character, most of Buro Happold’s clients would want to know why he had not been sacked long ago. Either way, the newspaper headlines would have been sensational. 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 directly implicated in this highly unfair agreement between the prosecution and the defence. Many people might nurture a secret desire to strangle an architect, but having been the employer of a consultant convicted of having done just that can hardly be good for business. Did some of the cash in Joanna’s bank account at the time of her death, over £40,000, come from a senior partner at Buro Happold?

Nothing in this first witness’s statement of Vincent Tabak’s gave any indication whether the defendant (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. An unattributed allegation that they knew each other, probably planted by the police, had appeared in The Sun the day after his arrest. The junior prosecution counsel Nicholas Rowland omitted this question from his cross-examination of the only witness who might have known the answer, her BDP colleague Darragh Bellew.

Dr. Sharma’s role brings to mind the oriental potentate who commissioned a clever architect to decorate his palace with a fantastic fountain more ingenious and ambitious than any other. After several years, when the work was completed, according to the poet James Elroy Flecker, the cruel caliph had the architect summarily executed, to prevent him from building a better fountain in any other country.

When they heard that Vincent Tabak was arrested for murder, Buro Happold was obliged to act in the belief that their trustworthy employee was innocent, and to ensure that he got the help they knew could not be provided by his absent family and established social network. In this the firm evidently failed him utterly, even though they could hardly be unaware that the local police force was now famous for arresting innocent academics. As his employer, they or their legal representatives were entitled to visit him in prison if he wished, and hear in confidence (i.e., without eavesdropping) his own account of what he had told police. His betrayal by Buro Happold comprises the following failures:
  • While Vincent Tabak was being interrogated at the police station, The Sun published an allegation by an unidentified former colleague from Buro Happold, claiming that Vincent and Joanna knew each other professionally. Yet neither the judge nor the lawyers at his trial ever questioned that he did not know her nor even her name. Nevertheless, Buro Happold remained silent, when it could have publicly refuted The Sun’s seriously prejudicial falsehood.
  • After the humiliation of Paul Cook at the bail hearing, Buro Happold must have realised at once that Vincent Tabak’s legal representation was in trouble, and the company lawyer should immediately have suspected that the CPS might be acting corruptly. After such a débâcle it was natural that the prisoner would replace his lawyers with a more prominent legal team, not realising that the latter had been groomed by the prosecution. That Kelcey & Hall were recommended to their employee by Buro Happold cannot be ruled out. That Buro Happold took no action after the prisoner realised that a false plea had been entered on his behalf suggests that the partners endorsed the grooming.
  • Had Shrikant Sharma or one of the partners testified in court personally to Vincent Tabak’s trustworthiness (honour and reputation), intelligence and professional skills, and referred the jury to the Preface of the defendant’s Ph.D thesis, there is no doubt whatever that the prosecution would have been soundly defeated. When Buro Happold found out that they were not going to be summoned to provide character testimony, it would have not been illegal for them to pay for the publication of a glowing testimonial for their employee in the local news media. Their deafening silence implies that they consented to the crucifixion of their employee.
  • After all the news media had published the lurid allegations of “bad character” evidenced by their employee’s consorting with prostitutes and viewing of adult pornography, a trustworthy employer would have paid for the publication of notices explaining to the general public that Nigel Lickley QC had made these allegations from a position of privilege and that they must be considered groundless unless the names were published of witnesses prepared to testify under oath to the legitimacy of the allegations. Buro Happold’s silence implies that allowing the gratuitous assassination of Vincent Tabak’s character was perceived to be in their own best interest.
  • After all the news media had published the obviously false allegation about Vincent Tabak’s illegal possession of images of child abuse, a half-decent employer would have put the record straight by exposing this falsehood and explaining to the public that its purpose was to intimidate the Tabak family by appealing for vigilante action against their employee by violent fellow inmates. The firm’s silence reveals how far the corruption in the wake of Joanna Yeates’s killing had contaminated Buro Happold.
The Saudi Binladin Group is the main contractor for most or all mosque construction projects in Saudi Arabia. The most famous member of the Binladin family, Osama, is better known for his destructive propensities. Presumably the analysis of the movement of pilgrims to the great mosque in Mecca on which Vincent Tabak was working on the Friday when Joanna Yeates disappeared was part of a project that Buro Happold was tendering for the Saudi Binladin Group. Was the spectacular scapegoating of Vincent Tabak for an allegedly motiveless murder linked in some way to terror and the security services? Was the stampede that trampled more than 700 pilgrims to death on 24th September 2015 a consequence of the imprisonment of the expert whose analysis could have prevented such disasters?

The “show” trial verdict

Judge Richard Field
The court was packed when Vincent Tabak went into the witness box on the morning of the trial’s 9th day, 20th October 2011. He took the oath, before being cross-examined by Counsel for the Defence. Joanna’s parents, brother and boyfriend were in the public gallery. Ilse, Cora and Marcel Tabak were also in court.

On 28th October 2011, the jury at Bristol Crown Court found Vincent Tabak guilty of murdering Joanna Yeates. Judge Richard Field sentenced him to a minimum of 20 years in prison in addition to the nine months already spent in custody. Almost all the local and national news media published the so-called “evidence” of his bad character immediately.

Sun journalist Stephen Moyes
The day after he was sentenced to life in prison, to the great distress of his family in the Netherlands, and especially his 70-year-old widowed mother Sonia, The Sun’s correspondent in Arnhem, Stephen Moyes, reported the reaction of the Tabak family: Mum Sonja sobbed and wailed, “No, no, no, no” as she received news of the guilty verdict yesterday. Despite friends and family comforting her at her flat in Arnhem, she was unable to speak through her tears. Asked about Tabak’s minimum 20-year prison term, Sonja wept. His sister Ilse curtly said: “There is nothing to say. No more.” A family friend said knowing her son was a killer had made Sonja “gravely ill”. Tabak’s family still believe his claim that Joanna’s death was accidental. They admit they are still standing by him — and following his orders. The Sun reported an unidentified family friend as saying that Vincent Tabak hoped he would be able to transfer to a prison in the Netherlands, adding that he was terrified of being beaten up in an English prison.

They knew that a condition for his ever being transferred was that they keep silent about his innocence.

Without any evidence or witness testimony to
substantiate this allegation, DI Goff told the press,
“Vincent Tabak was not particularly comfortable
around women”
The Deputy Chief Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Joe Goff, claimed to journalists after the trial that Vincent Tabak was a misfit – a complex character who had been almost a social inadequate in the Netherlands. The murder had shocked people who knew Vincent Tabak in Holland. DI Goff said: “He was somebody who was not particularly comfortable around women, uncomfortable in his social circumstances – even around his peers – and, from their perspective, not the sort of person you would imagine could commit this sort of violent crime.”

A few days later, allegations from an unnamed police officer were published that illegal images of child abuse had been found on his computer.