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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable