Murdered Joanna Yeates 'left flat with two people'

Wednesday 29 December 2010 17:57

Murder victim Joanna Yeates was seen leaving her flat on the night of her disappearance with two other people, it was claimed today.

The landlord of the Victorian block of flats where she lived has told detectives he saw three people, one of whom he believes was the landscape architect, leaving her property.

Mr Jefferies, 65, spotted the trio shortly after 9pm on December 17, not long after the 25-year-old arrived home alone, as he parked his car in the street.

The pensioner, who lives above the flat Miss Yeates shared with her boyfriend Greg Reardon, reported the sighting to police and they confirmed they are examining the evidence.

Speaking outside his home in Canynge Road, in the Clifton area of Bristol, Mr Jefferies denied he had told police he saw Miss Yeates leaving with two unidentified people.

"It is a serious distortion of what I said to the police and I have no further comment to make as that, no doubt, will be distorted," he said.

Earlier, he told Sky News: "I made some comment which was very, very, very much vaguer than that.

"Anything that I have said I have said to the police and I'm not prepared to make any comments to the media."

He added: "I definitely cannot say that I saw Joanna Yeates that evening. No."

Neighbours confirmed that Mr Jefferies had told them that he saw three people leaving from the building's communal entrance on the night Miss Yeates disappeared.

The mystery surrounding Miss Yeates' death deepened as it was revealed she bought two bottles of cider from an off-licence after leaving the Ram pub in Bristol city centre.

Police released new CCTV showing Miss Yeates calling in at a Bargain Booze store - close to the Tesco Express where she bought the pizza - as she walked home.

The footage, which shows her smiling as she entered the off-licence, was revealed as Crimestoppers announced it is offering a £10,000 reward for information which helps catch her killer.

Wearing a white winter jacket and carrying a black bag, the blonde graduate looked carefree as she strolled into the shop on Regent Street.

Forensic officers were continuing to examine Miss Yeates' ground floor flat and took away bags of evidence and the blue front door for further inspection.

They were also still working in Longwood Lane in Failand, North Somerset, where her snow-covered body was found on Christmas morning by a couple walking their dogs. She had been strangled.

Police are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry, including the possibility there was a sexual motive behind Miss Yeates' killing or that the graduate knew her killer.

Police are also keeping an "open mind" over whether Miss Yeates had been held captive or had been killed where she was found.

Mr Reardon, 27, who reported her missing on Sunday night after returning home from a weekend away in Sheffield visiting family, was being treated as a witness and not as a suspect.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones, who is leading the murder investigation, said his officers were following up several new leads following yesterday's appeal.

"There are a number of lines of inquiry we are following up. One of these concerns apparent reports that several people were seen or heard in or around Joanna's flat on the night of her disappearance," he said.

"As I stated yesterday, we know that there were a number of people in the Canynge Road area on the night of Joanna's disappearance.

"We want to hear from any of these people or anyone else with information that can help the inquiry."

Mr Jones said he was keeping Miss Yeates' parents, David, 63, and Theresa, 58, and brother Chris, up to date with the inquiry.

"Late last night, I received a message from Mr Yeates in which he stated he and his family had 'total confidence'," the officer said.

"Indeed, Mr Yeates said 'We truly believe that you will identify the person who killed our daughter'.

"I am, of course, grateful to have the support of the family.

"We are doing everything we can to help find the answers that we, and that Joanna's family, want and need, and if anyone out there can help us do that, please come forward and speak to us."

Yesterday, Mr Yeates spoke of his fear that his daughter's killer would never be brought to justice.

"Hearing Jo had been murdered was not a surprise because we had been told to prepare for the worst," he said.

"Things were made just that little bit less terrible when we saw Jo's body. It was a relief to see her again - we just said 'Welcome back'."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Operation Braid incident room on 0845 456 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.