Depraved killer had busy life –and dark secret

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Murderer Vincent Tabak told fellow guests at a dinner party he believed Joanna Yeates had been killed by “a totally detached crazy person”.

Little did they know that he was talking about himself.

Educated to PhD level and with no previous convictions, Tabak seemed an unlikely murderer.

But after a jury at Bristol Crown Court heard how he killed Miss Yeates and dumped her body, even his own QC, William Clegg, said he had been “frankly disgusting”.

The 33-year-old Dutch engineer appeared to be excelling in his career and seemed to have a stable, loving relationship with his American girlfriend, Tanja Morson.

Miss Morson, who was absent throughout the trial, was unaware, however, that the man she lived with had become obsessed with violent pornography and had set up meetings with prostitutes.

Tabak, who was born in Veghel and grew up in the southern Dutch town of Uden with older brothers and sisters, moved to Britain in 2007 and became respected as a hardworking and sociable employee at consultant engineer firm Buro Happold.

He obtained a master’s degree and a doctorate from Eindhoven University.

In his PhD thesis, Tabak refers to missing his dead father before going on to recognise Miss Morson’s support for him.

He writes: “I miss you and regret that you are not able to see the end result of my PhD.

“Last but not least, I want to thank my girlfriend Tanja Morson for her support in the last difficult month of my PhD.

“I am very happy that she entered my life.”

The couple met through the Guardian Soulmates dating website in 2008 and made many friends, regularly attending dinner parties.

They would work long hours and commute long distances but lived together in the Clifton area of Bristol, eventually becoming neighbours of Miss Yeates and her boyfriend, Greg Reardon.

Friends described them as outgoing, hardworking and keen to start a family.

They enjoyed music, spending the summer regularly attending gigs. Tabak is understood to have been among the revellers at the End of the Road festival, an event held in an intimate setting in north Dorset and attended by only a few thousand people.

Photographs on the social networking website Facebook show Tabak enjoying nights out and posing in a purple skirt, a floral top and a straw hat with pink feathers at a music festival.

In another, he can be seen smiling with Miss Morson during a visit to Stonehenge.

The couple planned to marry, according to solicitor Sarah Maddock, who attended Exeter University with Miss Morson and briefly lived with her in New York in 2001.

Ms Maddock, a mother of two, said that Miss Morson had no suspicions that Tabak was a killer, even after Miss Yeates’s body had been found.

“I spoke to Tanja on the phone some time early January this year,” she said, “after I returned from being away for Christmas and New Year.

“We spoke about a wedding we were both invited to and about the fact I was pregnant again. And Tanja told me that she and Vincent were thinking about marrying and starting a family this year. The question seemed to be when rather than if.”

Tabak killed Miss Yeates just weeks after returning from Los Angeles, where he had been working for several months.

He said losing Miss Morson, who had been his first serious girlfriend since arriving in Britain, was his biggest fear after strangling his next-door neighbour.

In the weeks that followed, he lost more than a stone in weight as he exercised heavily and struggled to sleep, but none of his new friends noticed a change in his behaviour.

At a dinner party with Ms Maddock, Tabak was said to seem “relaxed and happy”.

“Vincent was his usual calm and quiet self,” she said.

But behind closed doors, Tabak was anything but calm and quiet, apparently gaining sexual gratification from pornography showing women being strangled while having sex.

Police believe it was his motivation for a killing that appalled a nation.