Tragic Jo Yeates put up a desperate fight for life as ”cold” and ”calculated” Vincent Tabak strangled her and suffered 43 separate injuries to her body, a court heard today.
Landscape architect Jo, 25, had cuts and bruises to her head, nose, neck, abdomen, both arms and legs, mostly inflicted as she bravely put up ”a violent struggle to survive”.
She suffered injuries to the head and neck, a slight fracture on her nose, three abrasions to the trunk, 11 to the right arm, 10 to the left, one to the right leg and three to the left leg.
DNA belonging to Dutch architect Tabak, 33, was found on Jo’s legs and breast, Bristol Crown Court heard.
The court also heard Tabak told police he had eaten PIZZA on the night Jo died – the Tesco Finest pizza she bought just before she died – has never been found.
The jury was told Jo – found dead in a secluded lane on Christmas Day three miles from her home in Clifton, Bristol – would have been locked in a ”violent struggle to survive”.
Nigel Lickley QC, summing up the opening for the prosecution, said: ”On May 5 this defendant admitted killing Joanna Yeates – he pleaded guilty to her manslaughter.
”He accepts he unlawfully killed her. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, by that plea of guilty the issue of who killed Joanna Yeates was no longer in doubt.
”The issue is the state of mind when he killed Joanna Yeates and what he wanted to do when he held her for long enough to kill her.
”How he was in control – how he could have stopped but did not. We suggest he did not panic or lose control. He was cold and calculated.
”We have seen him on film a time later, beginning to make decisions to cover his tracks.
”He killed her. We say that is what he wanted and intended to do and it is our case that he is guilty of murder.”
The court heard that Tabak confessed to a prison chaplain that he had killed Jo Yeates after revealing: ”I’ve got something to tell you – it will shock you”.
He revealed he had killed Jo Yeates to Salvation Army chaplain Peter Brotherton while on remand in prison – 19 days after his arrest on suspicion of her murder.
Bristol Crown Court was full to capacity yesterday (tues) on the second day of the high profile murder trial, but Jo’s family – who attended the first day – were noticeably absent from the public gallery.
The court was told how Tabak – who has admitted Jo Yeates’ manslaughter – confessed to his crime.
Mr Lickley said: ”On that day, February 8, he spoke to the defendant. The defendant told him he had something to tell him – and it would shock him.
”He said ‘I’m going to plead guilty’.
”The chaplain said what for. He said for the crime I have done. Mr Brotherton asked him whether it was about the young lady in Bristol. He said ‘yes’.
”Mr Brotherton said if he (Tabak) was sorry. He said he was.”
Mr Lickley revealed that up until that point, Tabak had denied any involvement in the case, even after he was arrested.
Tabak provided police with three statements, one before his arrest on December 31 in Amsterdam, one on January 20 and another on January 22 – which were ”false and dishonest accounts”.
When asked about his whereabouts on December 17, Tabak had said he had gone to take pictures of the snow after returning home from work at 7.15pm.
The court also heard he had told police he had slipped on the ice outside Flat 1 – Jo’s flat – but had seen nothing unusual.
He then claimed to have gone shopping at Asda in Bedminster, Bristol, before picking his girlfriend up from her Christmas party, in Bristol city centre sometime after 1am.
But, after altering his statement several times, Tabak revealed he had moved his car into the driveway of Canynge Road to defrost it, during the evening.
Mr Lickley said: ”He moved the car down by the side of the house, which we suggest was an opportunity to move the body of Miss Yeates in the boot – away from the front of the house.”
In police interviews, a jury heard he also let slip what he had for tea on December 17.
Mr Lickley, reading from Mr Tabak’s statement, said: ”Pizza, I think.”
The pathologist who examined Jo’s body revealed she had sustained 43 separate injuries.
Jo’s frozen body was found on Christmas Day morning at Abbots Leigh, Clifton, Bristol, covered in leaves and drifting snow with her pink top raised, exposing her right breast, which was partially outside of the bra.
Dr Russell Delaney, the Home Office pathologist who examined Jo’s body, revealed the final struggle would have encountered.
Mr Lickley, said: ”He concluded that she died of compression to the neck, which caused an increase in pressure in the veins above the pressure point.
”The injuries show a pattern of compression of the neck and shows she was still alive when the compression took place.
”Death was not instantaneous. It took sufficient force to kill her. There was no sign of a use of a ligature.
”The fracture of the nose and bruising to the head was likely to have occurred during the period of neck compression.
”It could have been as a result of a forcible contact with the floor other object.
”It was a traumatic situation with movement. It was a struggle, a violent struggle to survive.
”But Vincent Tabak continued to hold her neck and kill her, he was more powerful, she was in pain and struggling to breathe.”
Mr Lickley added that Mr Delaney believed Jo’s killer had probably used both hands to strangle her.
The court heard that Tabak’s DNA was found on the breast of Jo, as well as behind her knees on her jeans which could have been ”consistent with carrying her”.
The prosecution claim the chances of that sample on her breast belonging to someone else was one in one million.
The court was also told that fibres from the Dutchman’s black coat were also found on her clothing.
Tabak’s Renault Megane was seized and tiny smears of blood – belonging to Jo – were found in the boot.
The court heard earlier how Tabak had strangled Jo with his bare hands before driving to a supermarket to go shopping – with her body in the boot of his car.
Jo and her boyfriend Greg Reardon, 27, had moved into Flat One at 44 Canynge Road, Clifton, on October 25 last year.
Tabak, who lived in the adjoining Flat Two with girlfriend Tanja Morson, 35, went to America to work in November and only returned a week before the killing.
The court was told he pounced on Jo at around 8.49pm after she returned to her flat with a Tesco Finest pizza and cider, following drinks with colleagues at the Bristol Ram pub.
Tabak was said to have ”squeezed the life” of out the blonde in a ”desperate’ struggle at her flat before bundling the corpse into his Renault Megane.
A neighbour heard two horrified screams as she struggled, the court was told.
He then drove to Asda in the silver hatchback with her body in the boot while texting his unsuspecting girlfriend – claiming that he was ”bored”, it was claimed.
The Dutchman bought crisps, beer and rock salt before dumping the petite blonde on a snow-covered roadside verge and covering her body with leaves, prosecutors allege.
On the morning of December 25, Jo’s frozen body was found by dog walkers, 100 yards along Longwood Lane.
The court heard that tests on his computer later revealed Tabak began searching the local police website about Jo’s murder before she was even reported missing.
He also searched Google for ‘How fast does a human body begin to decompose?’ – six days after he had dumped the body of Jo Yeates, the court was told.
In emails to girlfriend Tanja he also wrote: ”I have never met her (Jo), but at least there is no foul play and that is a relief.”
The prosecution also allege that he described the killer as a ”detached, crazy person who was able to carry on with life” at a dinner party.
Mr Lickley claimed Tabak and Jo were virtually strangers – despite living next door to one another.
Tabak buried his head in his hands as he was forced to watch CCTV pictures of her final movements on the day she died.
Jo’s mum Teresa had wept quietly as she saw her daughter on television screens around the court on Monday.
Tabak pleaded guilty to Jo’s manslaughter at a hearing in London’s Old Bailey courtroom on May 5 this year.
The murder trial, before the Honourable Mr Justice Richard Field, is expected to last for four weeks.