Vincent Tabak murder trial: the prosecution’s argument


Killer Vincent Tabak murdered Jo Yeates during a sexually-motivated attack in her bedroom – before he coolly ate her pizza, a court heard today.

Vincent Tabak murder trial - the prosecution's argument

The prosecution closed its case against Tabak, 33 – who has admitted manslaughter – claiming every second he held Jo ”frightened and in pain” showed a ”determination to kill”.

DNA evidence found on 25-year-old Jo’s chest meant the Dutch engineer may have pulled her top up and fondled her breasts either before, during or after the attack, the court heard.

Tabak – who was branded ”calculating, cunning, shrewd and callous” – then stuck her body in the boot of his car and drove to Asda in order to give himself an alibi.

He then repeatedly lied about his actions to his girlfriend, family, police and even his legal defence and the jury – answering ”I can’t remember” more than 80 times during his trial.

Mr Lickley – highlighting what he described as Tabak’s murderous intent – told Bristol Crown Court: ”Twenty seconds ladies and gentleman is a long time.

”It is a long time when you have your hands around the throat of another person. And you squeeze and squeeze and squeeze.

”Every second ladies and gentleman is a continued determination to kill.

”The significant injuries mean there was a struggle. The grip marks to the wrists and bruises to her arms as he tried to control her. Why does he not accept there was a struggle?

”To accept it means Vincent Tabak overcame her. That means he knew what he was doing.

”He knew she would die if he held her throat for long enough and – coupled with a second hand smothering her – he did.

”He knew she was frightened. He knew she could not breathe and was in pain.

”But instead of letting her go and releasing his grip he carried on and on and on, until she went limp in his hands. Her life was extinguished.”

Mr Lickley, summing up the third week of the murder trial, said earrings found by Jo’s boyfriend Greg Reardon, 28, in the bedroom of their flat suggested that the attack, in part, took place there.

The attack, he alleged, was sexually motivated.

Tabak’s desperate protestations otherwise, the court heard, were linked to his Google searches surrounding the definition of sexual offences in the wake of Jo’s killing.

Mr Lickley told the jury that two piercing screams heard at around the same time of the killing were too hard to ignore.

He also insisted that the fact that Jo Yeates’ supposed flirtatious comment to Tabak and his intent to kiss her had only emerged last week, was more evidence of him trying to hide the truth.

The court was told that in some cases of asphyxiation, the perpetrator could get a sexual thrill from throttling his victim.

Mr Lickley said: ”Why does Vincent Tabak not accept it was sexual? It is sexual if you went to kiss someone in that way.

”He denies it but he still wanted to do it. This is a killing linked to sex. It took a while to emerge but it has done finally.

”He wont go there ladies and gentleman. He wont admit it was sexual and we suggest it was. If you just misread any signal you would just walk away.”

After the attack on Jo, Mr Lickley claimed that Tabak ate her pizza – calmly switched off her oven and television – before driving to Asda to give himself an alibi.

Tabak admitted to the police that had eaten pizza for tea that night.

Mr Lickley said: ”Vincent Tabak took it, as he took one of her socks. Why he took it only he can say.

”Was it to eat after the incident?”

The court heard that Tabak then lied to his loved ones, covering his tracks until he was finally snared by DNA evidence.

Mr Lickley told the court: ”Vincent Tabak is very clever. He is intelligent and highly educated. This is a man who can tell you what happened – but he is dishonest, he is deceitful and he is a liar.

”He has not told you the truth we suggest.”

The prosecutor suggested that one example of this was when Tabak – giving evidence – suggested he had moved the body into the bedroom after killing her in the kitchen.

Mr Lickley claimed this was an attempt to hide the fact part of the attack had happened there.

He said: ”That is just one example of what we are calling cunning manipulation on his part.

”He is when he chooses to be very calculating. Making decisions, covering his tracks.

”There is a word for it – that is shrewd.”

Again, he accused Tabak of being ”calculating” in the months after the killing – lying continuously in emails to his girlfriend and family.

But he began to slip up – changing his story over and over again as more evidence emerged.

Mr Lickley cited his first defence statements as examples of how detail of the killing was withheld by Tabak – right up until trial.

He said: ”He showed a callous disregard for their feelings because it suited him. He’s not just like that after the events. If he was like it after he was like it before and he was like it during.

”He has planned his case. He has planned it to fit and it has changed.

”The flirting was not mentioned. The fact that he thought Jo Yeates was interested in him – not mentioned.

”The intent to kiss – not mentioned. The fact that it happened in the kitchen – not mentioned.

”Moving the body into the bedroom – not mentioned. The killing taking place after the 9.30pm text message – not mentioned.”

Mr Lickley said the lies were spun in an attempt to hide one thing – Tabak’s guilty intention to murder.

He said: ”The time he took demonstrates that intention. The intent to not let her get away.

”An intention to murder. It was long enough to kill that young woman and long enough to prove to you what his intention was at that time.”

Tabak’s trial, expected to last for at least another day in front of His Honour Mr Justice Richard Field, continues.