The devastated family of murdered architect Jo Yeates were today free to plan her funeral and put their cherished daughter to rest after her body was released by a court.
Engineer Vincent Tabak, 32, today appeared in Bristol Crown Court via video link charged with strangling tragic Jo, 25, and dumping her body in a secluded lane.
Judge Mr Justice Treacy pencilled in a provisional trial date for October 4 this year giving the prosecution eight months to prepare their case against Dutch national Tabak.
Tragic Jo vanished from her rented £200,000 flat in Clifton. Bristol, on December 17th after leaving the Ram Pub at around 8pm following drinks with work colleagues.
Her frozen body was found at 9am on Christmas Day by a couple walking their dog on Longwood Lane, Failand, just three miles from the flat she shared with her boyfriend Greg Reardon.
The defendant’s legal team – who once again made no application for bail – also revealed a second post mortem had been carried out on Jo’s body last week.
Jo’s body has now been released back to the police which will allow the family to make funeral arrangements.
Tabak appeared via a video link from a dark camera room at HMP Long Lartin, near Evesham in Worcestershire, where he is being held.
He was still dressed in the same bright red sweater and dark trousers he wore in court a week ago.
The 6ft 4ins Dutchman, who appeared apprehensive throughout the 20-minute proceedings, squeezed his large frame into a chair at a desk and stared intently at the camera – listening to every word said inside Bristol’s court nine.
He confirmed he could hear what was happening and when asked if he was Vincent Tabak, said: ”Yes, that is me.”
Before both legal teams spoke, Mr Justice Treacy told Tabak: ”If you have any problems hearing what is said in court, will you make that known to us?”
Tabak replied: ”I will, thank you.”
Clean-shaven, but still wearing a pair of borrowed glasses, he folded his arms and placed them on the table in front of him as his defence team addressed the court.
Tabak tightly clenched his hands together in front of him as the prosecutor spoke, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.
Nigel Lickley (corr), prosecuting for the CPS, then informed the judge of the current timetable for the Crown’s case.
He said: ”The timetable we propose is this. That the Crown will intend to serve the case papers on or before April 1.
”The defence case statement on or before April 28 and to have a plea and case management hearing in this court on May 4.
”In terms of trial, October seems to be the most likely and sensible trial window.”
Mr Justice Treacy agreed and Tabak’s legal team did not argue.
Justice Treacy said: ”I will fix a provisional trial date for October 4, 2011. It seems to be the most suitable date.”
Michael Fitton QC, representing Tabak, then informed the judge that a post mortem had been carried out on Jo Yeates’s body by his team last week.
He said: ”Dr Carey carried out a post mortem on the deceased last week and now we can submit her body back to the police team.
”Legal aid has been granted for all those in the defence team.”
Mr Justice Treacy then turned towards Tabak.
He said: ”Mr Tabak that concludes today’s hearing. You will have the opportunity to speak to and see your lawyer later this week.
”Your next appearance before this court will be on May 4, by which stage the case papers will have been served – which will set out in detail the legal case against you and the proposed need for a trial which we anticipate will started in October.”
Tabak replied: ”Yes, I understand.”
Mr Justice Treacy continued: ”These is no bail application at this stage so you will be remanded in custody until the next time you appear in court.”
Speaking after the hearing yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Coroners’ Service for the District of Avon confirmed it would be normal practice for the body to be released for funeral.
She said: ”Normally after a body has been examined by both the defence and prosecution it is released to the undertakers straight away.
”It may be held for longer if there is a disagreement between the defence and prosecution but if both parties are satisfied then it is released.
”It is still released if there are medical tests, as results for those can take months to come back and we would not want to delay a funeral.”