Jury chosen in Joanna Yates murder trial

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The Independent Online

The process to select a jury to try the neighbour accused of murdering landscape architect Joanna Yeates began today.

Vincent Tabak, 33, denies the premeditated killing of Miss Yeates, whose body was found on a snowy verge on Christmas morning.

The bespectacled Dutch engineer spoke just twice publicly to confirm his name and to confirm he understood the process of selecting the jury at Bristol Crown Court.

Wearing a dark grey suit, pale blue shirt and dark blue tie, he sat impassively in the dock of court room one to watch as a panel of 32 potential jurors was whittled down.

They had to answer a series of questions, which included whether they knew any of the witnesses due to give evidence in the trial or had links to the firms BDP, Buro Happold or Dyson.

Potential jurors were also asked whether they had any contact with the police during the investigation into the disappearance of Miss Yeates and to confirm they were available for the whole of the trial, which is expected to last four weeks.

A number were excluded and from those remaining, 12 were drawn at random with a further six chosen as reserves.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Field, told the selected six men and six women to consider overnight whether there were reasons, such as a hospital appointment, as to why they could not be one of the jurors.

The judge also warned the 18-strong panel not to carry out their own investigation into the disappearance of Miss Yeates or discuss the case with other people.

"You know who the defendant is and who the deceased is and I must instruct you to avoid undertaking any inquiries at all about the background of this case," the judge said.

"The position is that the defendant must be tried only on the evidence that is heard in this court room."

Mr Justice Field told the jury-in-waiting to return to court tomorrow morning to be sworn in.

Prosecutors will claim Tabak, who lived in a ground-floor flat adjoining her home in Clifton, Bristol, murdered the 25-year-old after she went for festive drinks with colleagues.

She was reported missing two days after disappearing when her boyfriend Greg Reardon returned to their shared flat after a weekend visiting family in Sheffield.

Following a string of appeals by relatives and police, her frozen corpse was found by dog walkers three miles from her home on a lane in Failand, north Somerset.

Mr Reardon and Miss Yeates' parents, David and Teresa, are expected to attend the trial, although none were present today.

Tabak, a trilingual engineer, is being represented by William Clegg QC. Nigel Lickley QC leads the case for the Crown.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.