Neighbour in court charged with Joanna's murder

THE next-door neighbour of Joanna Yeates appeared in court today accused of murdering her - while her boyfriend was away from home visiting his brother in Sheffield.

Dutch engineer Vincent Tabak was remanded in custody at Bristol Magistrates' Court charged with killing the 25-year-old landscape architect.

Tabak, 32, of Canynge Road, Clifton, Bristol, who works at Buro Happold in Bath, was arrested last Thursday.

It is understood he was detained at an address in Aberdeen Road, Cotham, about a mile from his home, where he is thought to have been staying.

He was remanded in custody for a week to appear next at Bristol Crown Court on the murder charge.

But the court was told today that he may also appear at the crown court tomorrow for a bail hearing.

The defendant spoke only to confirm his name, age and address.

No details of the prosecution case against him were given in court.

Takab was charged with murdering Miss Yeates sometime between December 16 and December 26.

She disappeared on December 17 and her body was discovered on Christmas Day.

A Dutch interpreter was present but Tabak did not appear to have any difficulty understanding proceedings during the two-minute hearing.

Tabak, a trilingual engineer, is an expert in the flow of people through buildings, including sports venues.

He lived next door to Miss Yeates with his girlfriend Tanja Morson, an analyst for Dyson, in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

His arrest was the second to be made by detectives since Miss Yeates's frozen body was found dumped in a lane on the outskirts of Bristol on December 25 by a couple walking their dog. She had been strangled.

University graduate Miss Yeates disappeared after going for Christmas drinks with colleagues at her architectural firm in Bristol.

Her boyfriend, Greg Reardon, 27, reported her missing after he returned to the rented flat they shared on December 19 following a weekend away visiting family in Sheffield.

A huge police operation swung into action after her body was found on the verge in Longwood Lane, Failand, North Somerset.

Her landlord, Chris Jefferies, 66, was arrested on December 30 and questioned for three days on suspicion of murder before being released on bail.

There were so many journalists wishing to attend today's hearing in courtroom one at Bristol Magistrates' Court that only one member of each media organisation was allowed in.

Miss Yeates's parents, David and Theresa, suggested over the weekend that they might attend today's hearing but they were not present.

An unshaven and bespectacled Tabak, wearing a red jumper with sleeves rolled up and dark casual trousers, was accompanied by one female dock officer during the two-minute hearing.

Also present in the dock was a female interpreter, who swore an oath before Tabak was brought into court.

The dock officer then removed the handcuff from the 6ft 4in defendant and he remained standing as the clerk asked him to confirm his personal details.

Tabak leaned forward towards the glass dock to listen to what the clerk was saying He confirmed his address as Flat 2, 44 Canynge Road, Bristol, and that he was 32 years old.

The clerk then read out the murder charge, which is alleged to have taken place between December 16 and December 26.

Tabak then sat down and prosecutor Ann Reddrop stood up.

"My application today is to send this defendant to the Crown Court and the timetable so far sets out a preliminary hearing next Monday, which is January 31," she told the magistrates.

"There is a slot available tomorrow, should the defendant wish to apply for bail, as you now appreciate you are not able to deal with that matter.

"So my application today is to remand this defendant in custody and for him next to appear next Monday, if not sooner."

The court was told that a date for the plea and case management hearing has been fixed for April 29.

Paul Cook, representing Tabak, confirmed that his client wished to apply for bail and said his client would be present for that application tomorrow.

William Summers, chairman of the bench, told Tabak: "This matter has to go to the Crown Court and you will appear in the Crown Court tomorrow where a bail application can be put.

"There will be a preliminary hearing on January 31 and there will be a plea and case management hearing on April 29."

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