I'm sorry I put you through a week of hell: Tabak weeps as he apologises to parents of Jo Yeates

Killer of landscape architect tells court that a flirtatious encounter went horribly wrong – but cannot explain the multiple injuries suffered by his victim

The family of Joanna Yeates sat a few feet from her killer at Bristol Crown Court yesterday as he demonstrated how he strangled her.

"It was like this," said Vincent Tabak, 33, holding up his right hand, open and outstretched. The Dutch engineer was giving his first public account of how he killed the landscape architect, 25, in her flat in Clifton, Bristol, on 17 December last year, before dumping her body on a roadside verge. She was found by two walkers on Christmas Day.

"I did something horrendous," Tabak said, weeping as he explained what happened when he arrived at the secluded spot at Failand, three miles from Clifton, after midnight.

"I decided to leave her body there. Two or three cars drove past. I was in a state of total panic and stress. I am so sorry for doing that. I put Jo's parents and Greg [Reardon, her boyfriend] through a week of hell."

Ms Yeates's parents, David and Teresa, did not look at Tabak once as he answered questions for several hours. Tabak's two sisters were also present. Nigel Lickley, QC, for the prosecution, called him "calculating, dishonest and manipulative" as he questioned his recollections of what took place.

Tabak said Ms Yeates invited him into her flat, then flirted with him, after the two had made eye contact as he passed her kitchen window. The pair had never spoken before.

He told jurors they talked about her cat, which had found its way into his flat when he was away working in Los Angeles the previous month. "She made a bit flirty comment," he said. "Something like the cat went into places that it shouldn't go. A bit like me. I decided to make a pass at her. I got the impression she wanted to kiss me."

It is then that Tabak claims Ms Yeates screamed. He said he covered her mouth to stop her cries and put a second hand around her throat. After about 20 seconds, her body went limp, he said.

Residents of neighbouring flats have said they heard screams. Tabak recounted in detail the events of that evening, including what he had to eat and text messages he sent to his girlfriend, but when questioned about how Ms Yeates came to die he told the court he could not remember.

"Could you see in her eyes that she was frightened?" Mr Lickley asked him.

"I can't remember," he answered.

The court was shown photographs of Ms Yeates's bruised nose and lips, marks on her chin and around her neck, swollen bruising next to her eye, and abrasions on the side of her face, injuries that Mr Lickley said were caused while she was alive.

"You caused those injuries didn't you, Mr Tabak, as part of this incident. That young woman was resisting you, Vincent Tabak, but you were not going to let her get away. Correct?"

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know."

Tabak claims he put Ms Yeates's body on her bed before carrying her back to his flat. He said he found it "difficult" to get her body into his waterproof bicycle cover, and then into the boot of his car. He also tried twice to push Ms Yeates's body over a wall near the roadside at Failand, but was unable to.

"I was sweating, exhausted," he told the court. It is at this point that he claims her T-shirt became rucked up. Ms Yeates was found with her right breast exposed, on which police found traces of Tabak's DNA.

He texted his girlfriend, Tanya Morsten, several times after he killed Ms Yeates, claiming to be bored. "I was in a state of shock," he said, defending his actions. "Panic. I'm so sorry."

Mr Lickley read out texts Tabak sent to his worried girlfriend as the murder gained an extremely high profile in the national media. "Let's hope nothing bad has happened and she is discovered healthy and well today or tomorrow," he told her in one message.

Another read: "If something bad has happened I don't want to live there anymore. Too scary."

Tabak admits manslaughter but denies murder, and the trial continues.

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Sport
Torquay United mascot Gilbert the Gull
football
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker