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Vincent Tabak jurors get 'sympathy' warning

The judge in the trial of Vincent Tabak urged the jurors not to be swayed by sympathy as they were sent home yesterday to consider overnight whether or not he murdered Joanna Yeates.

After three weeks of evidence, the six men and six women trying the 33-year-old Dutch engineer at Bristol Crown Court, were reminded by Mr Justice Field that the crucial matter was whether he intended to kill or seriously harm the 25-year-old landscape architect or not. Tabak admits manslaughter but denies murder.

The court has heard how Miss Yeates was strangled by her neighbour after returning home from drinks with colleagues on 17 December last year. Prosecuting barrister Nigel Lickley claimed the incident – which took place after Tabak attempted to kiss her – was "linked to sex", but Tabak denies any sexual motive.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Field said: "This is a tragic case. A lovely young woman, with a promising future ahead of her, has been robbed of her life. Her death will have, and doubtless continues to have, a devastating effect on her family and Greg. You must not allow emotion or sympathy for Joanna and her family and for Greg to cloud your judgment."