Street lighting where Joanna Yeates lived was ”extremely poor” leaving most CCTV inadequate and created a haven for stalkers and sex pests, experts had previously warned.
Bristol City Council has admitted they are replacing the ‘outdated’ street lights in Clifton which fall ”well short” of modern standards of frequency and brightness.
Chillingly, the criticism echoes fears raised by the father of Glenis Carruthers who was found murdered just 400 yards from Jo’s flat in 1976.
Tragic student Glenis, 20, was strangled after leaving a birthday party in an adjacent street to the one where both Jo and her landlord Chris Jefferies lived.
Speaking 36 YEARS ago, consultant engineer William Carruthers made a dramatic appeal and warned that dim lighting could have played a part in Glenis’ murder.
He warned: ”If subdued lighting had any bearing on the murder then I think all local authorities ought to consider doing something about it for the safety of people like Glenis.”
Lighting experts today confirmed that poor lighting in the area could pose problems for police attempting to identify CCTV images.
The news comes 18 months after residents in the area made a desperate appeal to the council to replace the ageing gas lamp columns following a series of sex attacks in the area.
Lighting historian Simon Cornwell first warned that the lights in Clifton were ”unacceptable” more than a year before the tragic architect was murdered.
He said modern street lighting ”could have made the difference” in being able to identify Joanna’s killer from CCTV footage.
Mr Cornwell said: ”CCTV cameras rely on street lighting to provide brightness and contrast for the images they take.
”I can think of several examples where police have had to replace the street lights in order to enhance the CCTV.
”In the case of Joanna Yeates, if street lights meeting modern specifications had been installed, it could have made the difference.
”It is impossible to know for sure but had the lights been changed, the level of brightness would have increased and that would certainly have helped.
”It is very understandable why residents would feel unsafe in this area where it is so dimly lit.”
Jo’s strangled body was found by dog walkers in Longwood Lane, near Failand, on Christmas Day.
Mr Cornwell, of Cambridge, said the lighting in her area still falls ”well short” of meeting modern standards.
He believes the old gas lamp columns were probably installed when there were no standards for street lighting in the 1920s.
Mr Cornwell also pointed to the very long spacing between columns of 150 to 170 feet. Even specifications drawn up in the 1930s suggest a spacing of at most 120 feet.
In May 2009, Mr Cornwell warned that the lights needed to be replaced urgently as residents were already to afraid to walk in the area at night.
He said: ”The street lighting in these roads is extremely poor by modern standards. Given the amount of parked cars casting shadows, and the maturing tree foliage, the lighting levels of these streets can only be getting worse.
”Street lighting was put up for residents so that they could see kerbs and walk to their homes safely. If that is not happening it is failing in its task.
”The lighting in these streets is unacceptable and needs to be replaced. The only solution is to replace them with modern lighting.”
Residents in Clifton today told how they had been campaigning to have the lights changed for years.
On 27-year-old woman, who did not want to be named, slammed Bristol City Council for failing to take action.
She said: ”The lights have been a problem in Clifton for years. I am far too scared to walk home by myself here at night.
”You can hardly see a few feet in front of you in some places. It is a creates real haven for attackers here and that is why these serious incidents keep happening.”
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said the force would not comment on the effect caused by the quality of the street lighting in the investigation area.
He added: ”We have looked at hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and some of the images are not of great quality. Police assess these images nevertheless and will continue to do so.”
A spokesman for Bristol City Council said a rolling programme was in place to change the lighting in the Clifton area.
He said: ”Around 330 street lights have been replaced or improved in the Clifton area over the last few years, including the column opposite where the murder victim lived.
”Replacement lanterns have been provided which give improved lighting levels. This is a rolling programme with more to come in the Clifton area.”
* Glenis, who was training to be a PE teacher at a college in Bedford, was visiting Bristol for the weekend 36 years ago to attend friend Sandy Hardyman’s 21st birthday party in Clifton.
She was not seen leaving the house of the friend in Worcester Crescent – less than half a mile from the flat where Joanna Yeates went missing on December 17.
In a remarkable twist, Sandra’s cousin was Geoffrey Hardyman, who now also lives in a flat on 44 Canynge Road, Clifton.
It is thought Glenis decided to walk to a phone box near the downs, where she was spotted with a man aged between 20 and 25 with long brown hair and a denim jacket.
Zookeeper Alfred Eliot was walking his dogs when he spotted what he thought was a ”courting couple” lying on the grass.
But the man he saw with her got up and left on his own and later Glenis’s body was found strangled on the grass verge.