Chris Jefferies, the landlord of murdered Joanna Yeates, has expressed his “immense relief” after being formally released without charge in connection with her killing.
The retired public school teacher, 66, had been on bail for nine weeks on suspicion of strangling the 25-year-old landscape architect.
Dutchman Vincent Tabak, 32, has since been arrested and charged with her murder.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has confirmed he was released last Friday (March 4) but refused to comment on why he was held on bail for so long.
The development came just days after Jefferies put his flat in Canynge Road up for sale as he seeks to ‘move on’ with his life and put the ordeal behind him.
He told friends he was “immensely relieved” and ”pleased” to finally be cleared of any involvement in the murder of pretty blonde Jo.
Close friend Brian Worthington, 71, who has known Mr Jefferies since 1970 when they were colleagues at Clifton College, Bristol, spoke to him after his release.
Mr Worthington, also of Clifton, said: “I was told by him that he had been released and he was immensely relieved and really pleased.
“Maybe now he can get on with his life.
“He has a lot of very good friends that have given him tremendous support and believed immediately in his innocence since he was arrested.
“Everybody has been puzzled as to why it hasn’t happened sooner. Everybody around him expected his bail to be lifted.
“I don’t know if he is angry at the police – he is being advised by his solicitors on what to do and say next.
“He’s just immensely pleased – and what else do you expect him to be?”
Jefferies was arrested on December 30 and released on police bail after being questioned for two days.
Yesterday neighbours said they never doubted his innocence.
One resident and friend of Jefferies, who lives very close to his first-floor 44 Canynge Road flat, said the landlord had been back to his apartment since his arrest.
He said: “It’s not unexpected – we always knew he was innocent.
“He has been back to the flat a few times but I don’t think he has taken up residence again yet.”
The neighbour also said Mr Jefferies was considering suing the police after his “traumatic” ordeal.
He said: “I think he is now exploring various options after the extremely traumatic experience he has gone through since his arrest.
“Obviously someone in his position has faced a great deal of uncertainty about his future.
“This arrest has obviously wasted a lot of police time and money.’
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We can confirm a 66-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder was released without charge on Friday, March 4.”
Ex-Clifton College teacher Jefferies, 66, is understood to be staying with friends as he looks to make a fresh start since his murder arrest and subsequent release.
He has now put his one-bedroom first floor flat at 44 Canynge Road on the market for £245,000.
The furnished property sits one level above the basement flat which Jo, 25, shared with boyfriend Greg, 27, and directly above that of murder accused Vincent Tabak.
Estate agent pictures show the pad, where Jefferies has lived for 10 years, looking polished – with no hint of the forensic examination that saw large parts of the flat pulled apart.
The academic’s spacious living room is shown piled high with books and filled with posh dark wood furniture and leather chairs.
His cramped kitchen is also snapped, alongside his double bedroom.
Hydes Estate Agents, of Bristol, describe the flat as a “particularly large” apartment in an “imposing detached Victorian property”.
There is no mention of its grisly recent past, which saw police teams pull tarpaulin across Jo’s basement flat and that of next-door neighbour Tabak, as investigations unfolded.
The selling blurb says: “The subject property is excellently located on a quiet residential road within easy walking distance of Clifton Village, which has a wide range of shops, boutiques and restaurants.
“Other benefits include a very spacious lounge (23’2” by 17’2”) and bedroom, and the potential, subject to the necessary consents, to convert in to a two bedroom apartment.
“The property also benefits from a dedicated off street car parking space.”
The snow-covered body of Jo was found dumped and strangled in a secluded lane in Clifton, Bristol, on Christmas Day.
She had vanished eight days earlier after returning to 44 Canynge Road following a drink with work colleagues.
Tabak, also an architect, was later arrested and charged with the pretty blonde’s murder on January 20.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has refused to comment on why Jefferies was held on bail for so long.