Jo killer Vincent Tabak 'drank champagne'

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The Independent Online

Vincent Tabak was drinking champagne the night after killing Joanna Yeates, a court heard today.

The 33-year-old was described as "tired and disinterested" after strangling Miss Yeates with his bare hands the previous evening.

But he still found time to drink champagne as he joined girlfriend Tanja Morson at a friend's birthday party on Bristol's harbourside, the jury was told.

Miss Yeates, meanwhile, was said to have told friends she was "dreading" spending the weekend alone on December 17 last year, hours before she was strangled to death by next-door neighbour Tabak.

Linda Marland said she had chatted to Tabak the next day as her daughter Elizabeth celebrated her 24th birthday at the Pitcher and Piano.

Elizabeth had stayed in Tabak's spare room while he was working in Los Angeles in the autumn, she said.

Mrs Marland told Bristol Crown Court: "Vincent sounded tired and disinterested. He was being short with his answers, not elaborating. I found it quite difficult.

"He only looked at me once. The rest of the time he was staring up the room. I got the impression Vincent was bored with my conversation... he was drinking a glass of champagne."

Tabak would attend dinner parties and joke about the murder inquiry in the weeks after Miss Yeates' body was found three miles from her Clifton home, it was claimed.

Dutch engineer Tabak admits manslaughter but denies Miss Yeates' murder.

The court heard from a string of friends who had drunk with Miss Yeates on the night of her death.

Miss Yeates confided in one colleague of her fears at being without boyfriend Greg Reardon, who was visiting family in Sheffield.

The 25-year-old, who worked as a landscape architect at BDP, told office manager Elisabeth Chandler that she planned to spend the weekend baking.

"Jo told me that she was dreading the weekend because it was the first time she was going to be left on her own," she said in a written statement read to the jury.

"Her partner Greg, who I know, was going away."

Other colleagues from BDP who met in the Ram pub, in Park Street, told the trial that she "did not appear in the best of moods" and was "bored", while others said she was her usual "jovial" self.

Darragh Bellew, a landscape architect colleague of Miss Yeates, said she bought him a pint during the festive drinks.

When junior prosecution barrister Nicholas Rowland asked him whether she was drunk, Mr Bellew told the jury: "Not at all, just jovial, her usual self."

CCTV footage played to the jury showed Miss Yeates and Mr Bellew leaving their office on Park Street, use a cashpoint, then walking up the hill to the Ram.

Inside the pub, Mr Bellew asked her what she had planned for the weekend.

"She replied that she was going to bake some cakes and bread over the weekend because Greg was away," he told the court.

"We had a joke and said she was going to bring them into the office on Monday morning."

He was alerted that something might have happened to Miss Yeates when Mr Reardon called him at midnight on the Sunday.

Mr Bellew added: "He said he had got back to the flat and found it strange that all Jo's belongings were there."

In a written statement, colleague Michael Brown told the court: "I remember texting Jo and betting her 50p that Chris was going to win The Apprentice show on the BBC," he said.

"She said she didn't have any plans for the weekend and appeared bored and she planned to do baking."

Mr Brown said he had a joke with Miss Yeates but added: "Jo was not in the best of moods and appeared bored."

Father George Henwood told jurors that he had exchanged brief words with Miss Yeates as she walked home to her flat in Canynge Road as he exercised his Labrador dog on a cold, icy night.

"There was a young lady. I said, 'It's slippy isn't it?'," the priest told jurors.

"She said, 'Yes it is', and turned and looked at me."

Father Henwood said that Miss Yeates carried on walking along Canynge Road and he continued the usual route he took exercising his dog.

Several partygoers and a neighbour heard screams on the night of Miss Yeates' death but dismissed the noise as students.

The case was adjourned until tomorrow when the jury will hear scientific evidence.