A ENGINEER who throttled Joanna Yeates in one of Britain’s most notorious murders was obsessed with vile images of blonde women being strangled during sex.
Police described Vincent Tabak as “intelligent and manipulative” after he was jailed for life yesterday for killing the landscape architect in December last year.
Tabak, 33, was convicted of murder by a 10-2 majority, even though a jury was prevented from hearing how Miss Yeates’s death bore chilling similarities to pornographic videos found on his computers.
Details about the films, which showed women being throttled during sex or bundled into cars, could only be reported after the three-week trial at Bristol Crown Court had ended.
The jury also did not hear how Tabak, who lived with a loyal girlfriend in a flat next door to Miss Yeates’s home, paid for sex with a prostitute while working in the United States two weeks before the killing.
The Dutchman showed no emotion as he was ordered to spend at least 20 years in prison for the murder, which happened while Miss Yeates’s boyfriend Greg Reardon was away, visiting relatives in Sheffield.
Miss Yeates’s parents David and Teresa were too distraught to attend court yesterday but revealed in a statement how they “regret that capital punishment is not a possible option”.
Her relatives added: “The best we can hope for him is that he spends the rest of his life incarcerated where his life is a living hell, being the recipient of all evils, deprivations and degradations that his situation can provide.”
Tabak, a former Eindhoven University student with no previous convictions, strangled Miss Yeates in a violent confrontation in her flat in the Clifton area of Bristol on December 17 last year.
He then misled police in an effort to implicate Miss Yeates’s landlord and remained silent when detectives arrested the retired English teacher Chris Jefferies on suspicion of murder.
Police only ruled out Mr Jefferies as a suspect several weeks after DNA analysis linked Tabak to the killing.
Tabak later confessed to his involvement during a conversation with a prison chaplain but, although admitting manslaughter, he denied murder and put Miss Yeates’s parents through the ordeal of hearing harrowing evidence about their daughter’s final moments.
Miss Yeates, who was 5ft 4in, suffered 43 separate injuries as she fought for her life against Tabak, who used his burly 6ft 4in frame to overpower her.
She did not even know her killer’s name and is believed to have died within about 20 seconds of Tabak grabbing her neck.
Tabak then began a cynical campaign to cover his tracks, carrying Miss Yeates’s body to his flat next door before putting it in his bicycle bag and, eventually, the boot of his car.
He drove to a supermarket, with the body still in the boot, and sent a text message to his girlfriend while he shopped, telling her that he was bored.
He dumped the body on a snowy verge in Failand, near Bristol, and then told a string of lies to conceal his involvement as media coverage of Miss Yeates’s disappearance grew. Within 24 hours of disposing Miss Yeates’s partially clothed corpse, he was drinking champagne with friends at a dinner party and continuing to masquerade as a concerned neighbour.
Before and after the body was discovered on Christmas Day, Tabak scoured the internet for clues on how he could evade detection, studying weather forecasts, checking police websites and even watching a video of a decomposing corpse.
It is believed he may also have gained sexual satisfaction from looking up pictures of Miss Yeates. Analysis of his computers showed he had been looking at pornographic websites within seconds of looking at pages about the murder investigation.
The judge, Mr Justice Field, told Tabak: “In my opinion you are thoroughly deceitful, dishonest and manipulative.”
He said the engineer had been responsible for “a dreadful, evil act committed against a vulnerable, unsuspecting woman in her own home”.
The judge added: “That wicked act ended the life of a young woman who was entitled to expect a life of happiness and fulfilment.”