Joanna Yeates fought a desperate battle for life as she suffered 43 injuries at the hands of her neighbour, a court heard yesterday.
The landscape architect, 25, endured a slow and painful death as she was strangled by "cold and calculated" killer Vincent Tabak, Bristol Crown Court was told. Following his arrest, Mr Tabak kept his crime secret for six weeks before confessing to a prison chaplain, it was alleged.
The Dutch engineer, 33, was said to have used his height and build to overpower Ms Yeates's 5ft 4in frame at her flat in Clifton, Bristol. She fought for her life for some time as he pinned her to the floor by her wrists, said Nigel Lickley, QC, for the prosecution.
"There was a violent struggle by Ms Yeates to survive," he said. "He might have let go but he did not. He knew that Ms Yeates was in pain and struggling to breathe. We suggest he did not panic or lose control. He was controlled and calculated."
Ms Yeates disappeared after going for drinks with work colleagues on 17 December last year. A couple out walking their dog found her body on Christmas morning. The court heard that Mr Tabak went about his life as normal, "manipulating and misleading" others and protesting his innocence after his arrest on 20 January. But while in jail on 8 February he unexpectedly opened up to a Salvation Army chaplain, Peter Brotherton.
"Vincent Tabak said, I am going to plead guilty," Mr Lickley told jurors. When asked what for, Mr Tabak allegedly added: "For the crime that I have done." Mr Lickley added: "Mr Brotherton asked if it was about the young lady in Bristol and he said yes. Mr Brotherton asked if he was sorry and he said he was."
The court was told that Ms Yeates was strangled by Mr Tabak with his bare hands. "There was a violent struggle by Ms Yeates to survive," Mr Lickley said. "He might have let go but he did not. He knew that Ms Yeates was in pain and struggling to breathe."
Jurors heard that Mr Tabak drove the body to a country lane, dumped it and covered it with leaves. When found, Ms Yeates had 43 wounds, mainly to the head, neck and arms, and had been strangled and suffocated. "Her death was not instantaneous. It took some time," Mr Lickley said.
He added: "We suggest he didn't panic or lose control. He was controlling and calculating. We have seen him on [CCTV] film shortly after, beginning to cover his tracks."
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