Murdered Joanna Yeates ‘was in neighbour’s car boot as he shopped at Asda’

Joanna Yeates (below) buys a pizza in a Tesco Express on the night she was last seen. Also below: David and Teresa Yeates arrive at Bristol Crown Court.
Joanna Yeates (below) buys a pizza in a Tesco Express on the night she was last seen. Also below: David and Teresa Yeates arrive at Bristol Crown Court.
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A NEIGHBOUR strangled Joanna Yeates then went shopping in Asda with her murdered body in his car boot, a court heard today.

Vincent Tabak texted his girlfriend to say he was bored just minutes after murdering the 25-year-old landscape architect, a jury was told.

David and Teresa Yeates arrive at Bristol Crown Court, where the prosecution case against Vincent Tabak, who is accused of murdering their daughter Joanna Yeates (below) begins.

David and Teresa Yeates arrive at Bristol Crown Court, where the prosecution case against Vincent Tabak, who is accused of murdering their daughter Joanna Yeates (below) begins.

CCTV footage showed Tabak then wandering the aisles at an Asda supermarket, in Bedminster, Bristol, before dumping her body.

Tabak - who admits manslaughter but denies murder - did not even know his victim’s name, Nigel Lickley QC, for the Crown, said.

Shortly after killing blonde Miss Yeates, Tabak sent his girlfriend a text message: “Miss you loads. It’s boring here without you Vxx”.

Mr Lickley told Bristol Crown Court: “It would appear this message was sent after he had killed Joanna Yeates, a message to his girlfriend indicating that he was bored.”

Joanna Yeates.

Joanna Yeates.

He then went to the 24-hour supermarket to buy rock salt - for melting ice - along with crisps and beer.

“It must be that the body of Joanna Yeates was in the boot of his car at the time of his visit to Asda,” Mr Lickley said.

Tabak went to the Asda store twice and did his shopping on the second visit.

In the days after killing the landscape architect, Vincent Tabak attended parties and dinners as he coolly maintained the pretence of a worried neighbour, the prosecution claims.

The bespectacled Dutch engineer looked on from the dock as Mr Lickley said: “He was able to mislead and manipulate others and to hide his inner feelings.

“He was in complete control and knew what he was doing.”

Less then two hours after killing Miss Yeates, Tabak sent a further text message to his girlfriend.

The message said: “How are you? I am at Asda buying some crisis. Was bored. Can’t wait to pick you up.”

Mr Lickley said Tabak had meant “crisps” rather than “crisis” in his text message.

Mr Lickley added: “While Mr Tabak was in Asda Miss Yeates’ boyfriend Mr Reardon had arrived in Sheffield and sent her the text ‘hope you had a good night in the pub’.

“At some point that evening Vincent Tabak moved Joanna Yeates’ dead body, put her in the boot of his car and drove it to Longwood Lane,” Mr Lickley said.

A forensic examination of the scene where her body was found located Miss Yeates’ blood on a wall of a neighbouring quarry - meaning Tabak may have tried to lift her corpse over the wall.

Miss Yeates’ mother Teresa - flanked by husband David - wept in the public gallery as the jury was shown CCTV footage of the victim enjoying drinks with friends before she was killed.

Neighbours at a Christmas party near her flat in Clifton, Bristol, told police they heard at least two screams as the killing took place on December 17.

As a search was launched for her body, police spoke to Tabak but no suspicions were aroused, the court heard.

Miss Yeates had not known Tabak - despite being his next-door neighbour.

He had flown out to America after she moved in to the home at the end of October with her boyfriend.

On the night of her death, one couple walking past her flat heard two screams, one muffled, before a thud like furniture moving, Mr Lickley said.

Miss Yeates had got home after drinks and “settled down for the evening when she was interrupted by Vincent Tabak”.

“There were screams heard by neighbours at a nearby party,” Mr Lickley said. “Those screams were Vincent Tabak attacking her.”

Mr Lickley added: “Having killed her, he drove her body in the boot of his Renault Megane car and deposited her in Longwood Lane.”

Mr Lickley said Tabak had attempted to hide Miss Yeates’ body by covering it with leaves.

He may even have tried to lift the landscape architect’s body over a wall into a quarry in Longwood Lane, the prosecutor said.

“Before Joanna Yeates’ boyfriend, Greg Reardon, had reported his girlfriend missing in the early hours of the morning, Vincent Tabak was using Google Maps to search for Longwood Lane,” he added.

“It is a striking feature of this case that, as one young man became more and more worried about his missing girlfriend, there, on the other side of the common wall, was her killer.”

Mr Reardon returned to their flat in Canynge Road, Clifton, on the evening of December 19 after a weekend away visiting family.

“Eventually, realising that all was not well, he called the police,” Mr Lickley said.

“The police knocked on Vincent Tabak’s door during their inquiries and spoke to him and his girlfriend in the early hours of December 20.”

Footage of Miss Yeates at the Bristol Ram showed her in a long-sleeved pink top and jeans, with a white watch.

“She was found (on Christmas Day) wearing this,” Mr Lickley added.

She walked home at about 8pm via a Bargain Booze shop and a local Tesco, picking up a mozzarella and basil ‘Finest’ pizza.

Mr Lickley said: “The pizza and its box have not been found. Joanna Yeates did not eat it.

“Vincent Tabak took it, as he did one of her socks. Why he took these items only he can say.”

Mr Lickley told how Miss Yeates’s body was found by a couple on Christmas morning who had opened presents early and set off for a walk with their dog in Failand, on the outskirts of the city.

“They walked past a mound of snow,” Mr Lickley said. “Something triggered in the mind of the man.

“From a distance he saw features that indicated that a human body was buried in the snow ... a patch of skin and some denim.”

Mr Lickley added: “The missing person inquiry that had commenced became a murder inquiry from that moment.”

Mr Lickley said that when detectives announced they were looking for the box of the pizza that Miss Yeates bought, Tabak scoured the internet to see when rubbish had been collected.

He also researched body decomposition and information on the sentences for murder and manslaughter.

Tabak, 33, denies the premeditated killing of Miss Yeates.

Tabak sat with his head bowed as a recording of Mr Reardon calling police to report Miss Yeates missing was played to the jury.

Mr Reardon had never spoken to Tabak prior to his girlfriend’s disappearance.

He had only spoken to Tabak’s girlfriend, Tanja Morson, once - when his and Miss Yeates’ cat, Bernard, got into their neighbours’ flat and Miss Morson asked him to remove it.

After reporting Miss Yeates missing, Mr Reardon went with police officers to his next-door neighbours’ flat but did not speak to Tabak - not realising he was a Dutch national.

Jurors were told that, on the night after the landscape architect had been killed, Tabak and Miss Morson went to a birthday party.

“He appeared quiet and disinterested and short with his answers.

“She describes the meeting with him as difficult and describes Vincent Tabak as not wanting to be there.

“She noticed that Vincent Tabak was not talking to anyone else.”