Jo Yeates killed 'after failed kiss'

Barrister claims Tabak misread signs after architect invited him in to her flat

Joanna Yeates's killer claims he simply "misread" the situation when he strangled her, the murder trial heard yesterday.

Vincent Tabak's barrister insisted that the defendant had first tried to kiss the 25-year-old landscape architect and that her death was a tragic misfortune caused by her horrified reaction.

While condemning his client, who admits manslaughter but denies murder, as "calculating" in his attempts to cover up Miss Yeates's death, William Clegg QC insisted he had never intended to kill her.

The jury at Bristol Crown Court had heard how she had been strangled after returning home from Friday night drinks with colleagues on 17 December last year, and suffered 43 injuries.

In the first description of Tabak's version of events, Mr Clegg said it was "pure chance" that the two neighbours, who were virtual strangers, were home alone. Mr Clegg insisted the young woman had been "bored and lonely" with her boyfriend away.

The 33-year-old Dutch engineer had walked past her kitchen window and she invited him in, marking, the QC said, an "unfortunate starting point for the defence case".

"She said that her boyfriend was away and she was alone and he said that his girlfriend was away and he was alone," the lawyer said. "And as the two of them talked inside that flat, Vincent Tabak completely misread the situation that he had walked into... He misread her friendliness towards him and made a move towards her as if he was about to kiss her on the lips."

As he put his arm around Miss Yeates, she screamed and he put a hand over her mouth, Mr Clegg continued. "He said to her 'stop screaming'. He apologised and said he was sorry.

"He took his hand away and she carried on screaming. He panicked. He put one hand around her throat and the other over her mouth. In seconds – far less than a minute – Joanna went limp. She was dead."

The court heard earlier how Tabak had searched the internet almost hourly after disposing of the body. He watched a time lapse video of a decomposing corpse, searched for definitions of "sexual conduct" and "sexual assault", researched the average sentences for murder and manslaughter and examined the unsolved murders of Melanie Hall and Anni Dewani.

Mr Clegg added: "Despite the awful secret he was carrying, he tried to carry on as before, going to dinner parties, going to work, living with his girlfriend and living a lie."

The trial continues today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen