Vincent Tabak made a tearful apology to the family of Jo Yeates today as he admitted the killing will ”haunt” him forever.
The Dutchman, 33, dabbed away tears as he described the moment he strangled the pretty landscape architect after she spurned his advances.
The engineer told Bristol Crown Court how he ”made a pass” at the 25-year-old blonde after she invited him in for a drink and made a ”flirty” comment towards him.
He claimed he panicked when she screamed and grabbed her by the throat with one hand until she went limp.
But he insisted he did not intend to kill her and was in ”total shock” that he had taken her life.
The 6ft 4inch Dutchman hanged his head in shame in the witness box and apologised for his ”horrendous” actions which had put her family through a ”week of hell”.
But Nigel Lickley QC, cross-examining Tabak, insisted there had been a ”sexual” element to his ”callous” crime – branding him ”calculating, dishonest and manipulative”.
Jo’s loved ones, included mum Teresa, 58, dad David, 63, brother Chris and her boyfriend Greg Reardon, 28, glared straight at her killer as he said he was sorry.
Voice cracking with emotion, Tabak told the court: ”I should have called the police the moment she was dead. I had ample opportunity to call the police and I didn’t do it.
”I am really sorry for being responsible for her death and I am sorry for putting her parents and Greg through a week of hell – not knowing where she was.
”I still can’t believe that I am capable of such an act – it will haunt me for the rest of my life, no matter what sentence I get.”
It was the first time Tabak had described, in his own words to Bristol Crown Court, how he had killed blonde Jo in her flat.
He claimed his neighbour had invited him into Flat One 44 Canynge Road when she saw him passing her kitchen window on December 17 some time after 9.25pm.
Under prompting from his counsel, William Clegg QC, he then told the court that Jo made a ”flirty” comment to him after offering him a drink.
That then prompted him to make a pass at her while the pair were chatting in the kitchen.
Tabak said: ”We talked about the fact that my girlfriend was away at her Christmas party, that I felt a bit lonely, a bit bored.
”She made a comment about the fact that Greg was also away that evening and she was also bored at home.
”We talked about the cat – her cat that had come into our flat once.
”She made some flirty comment that the cat ‘went into places he shouldn’t go – a bit like me’.
”We talked about LA. I had just come back from there. I said it was good fun – lots of sun – and that I was quite lonely without Tanja.”
Mr Clegg said: ”How long do you think the two of you spoke in her flat?” Tabak said: ”Roughly ten minutes.”
Mr Clegg continued: ”Did you decide to do anything?”
Tabak replied: ”Yes I did.”
Mr Clegg again prompted: ”What did you decide to do?”
A tearful Tabak paused to gather breath before saying: ”I decided to make a pass at her. I thought I got the impression she wanted to kiss me.”
He then explained, with Jo’s horrified parents clinging on to each other just feet away, how he had squeezed her throat until she died.
Tabak said: ”I leaned forward and I think I put one of my hands on her back and tried to kiss her.
”She started to scream – quite loudly. I panicked and put one of my hands over her mouth.
”I said something like: ‘I’m sorry, it’s ok, please stop’.”
The lanky Dutchman then pulled his hand away from her mouth – but told the court that Jo let out another piercing scream.
He said: ”I put one hand over her mouth and the other hand around her neck.”
Mr Clegg said: ”Why did you do that?”
Tabak replied: ”I was panicking – I wanted to stop her screaming.”
Mr Clegg enquired: ”Did you intend to kill her? Did you intend to cause her really serious harm?”
To both the defendant resolutely replied: ”No, definitely not.”
He said: ”I had no intention to harm her in any way. I was just trying to calm her down to stop her screaming.”
Mr Clegg then got his client to close his eyes – to re-live the struggle – and estimate how long he held her neck for.
Tabak claimed it was around 15 seconds before Jo went ”limp” and fell to the floor.
He then told a court that he hauled Jo’s body into her bedroom, where he deposited it on the bed, before heading back to his flat in ”panic”.
But he returned a short while later to carry Jo’s corpse over to his flat – having to stop halfway and put her down because she was too heavy.
He told a stunned court that he laid Jo’s body in the hallway of his flat, then spare room – before stuffing her inside a bicycle cover.
Tabak then snuck back to Jo’s neighbouring flat, scooping up her Tesco Finest pizza and a grey ski sock – which had come off when he moved her body – and took them back to his.
He then crammed the body into back of his silver Renault Megane – which he had moved onto the drive of 44 Canynge Road and defrosted – before driving to Asda at 10.13pm.
While at the store in Bedminster, Bristol, he bought crisps, rock salt and beer, and then texted his girlfriend Tanja, 35, saying he was bored.
Asked why he had done this, the Dutchman said: ”I was in a state of shock. Panic.
Not believing what had happened – that I was responsible for a death.”
Breaking down again he said: ”I am so sorry. I just wanted to reach out to Tanja. To speak to her somehow – get support from her.
”I still can’t believe I did that. I just didn’t know what to do – I was just in total shock.”
Tabak then told the court that he went back to 44 Canynge Road, before driving back out to dump Jo’s body a few minutes later.
He said he headed in the direction of Bristol Airport and ended up in Longwood Lane, Failand – three miles from Clifton.
The defendant told the court that he pulled her body out of his trunk and took it out of the bicycle cover.
He claimed he tried to lift her over the wall – but found her too heavy.
The bespectacled Dutchman also said that THREE cars drove past while he was in Longwood Lane.
He said he panicked and left her by the side of the road – after making an attempt to cover her in leaves.
Tabak told the court: ”I did something horrendous. I decided to leave the body there.”
The Dutchman also confessed he had known the police would always catch up with him because he knew he was sweating and would have left DNA at the scene.
He also said he felt wracked with guilty and suicidal after her death – and considered jumping off a bridge to kill himself in the month before he was finally arrested.
Tabak – who claimed to have been bingeing on vodka to calm his nerves – said: ”I was in a state of total despair. I just clung on and decided not to do anything.”
He told the court that it was his love for Tanja that got him through.
But Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting, rubbished his claims of remorse.
He told Tabak: ”You were very calculating, dishonest, and manipulative.
”And if you were like it after this event, you were like it before and during – and even today.”
Mr Lickley also asserted that his crime was sexually motivated – asking Tabak if he ever though about having sex with Jo.
Tabak denied the accusation – claiming he just wanted to stop at kissing.
But Mr Lickley continued: ”Had you pulled her top up? Had you touched her breast? Is that what made her scream?”
Tabak again shook his head and said: ”Definitely not.”
But Mr Lickley repeated his accusation that Tabak was ”calculated” and said the defendant had shown ”callous disregard” for his girlfriend’s feelings – manipulating her after the death.
He said: ”You manipulated her feelings to make her feel sorry for you.
”As you will see there is one text where she is hurrying home so you are not home alone because ‘there is a killer on the loose in Clifton’.
”That killer was you. There was callous disregard for her feelings.”
Tabak admits the manslaughter of Jo – whose body was found on Christmas Day – but denied murder.
The trial is expected to last for another six days in front of His Honour Mr Justice Richard Field.