Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Joanna Yeates murder suspect landlord ‘expects to be cleared soon’

Chris Jefferies
Chris Jefferies

Chris Jefferies, the landlord arrested on suspicion of murdering Joanna Yeates, has told a friend that he expects to be eliminated from police inquiries soon.

Mr Jefferies, a former English teacher at the fee-paying Clifton College, is the only suspect to be arrested during the murder investigation into Ms Yeates' death.

The police investigation into the murder continued yesterday, with uniformed police officers searching drains in the streets surrounding the 25-year-old's flat. One said they would be searching about 40 drains for evidence.

Later police were seen checking an old rifle range in the grounds of Clifton College, next door to Ms Yeates' flat.

The landscape architect disappeared in Bristol on December 17, and her body was found four miles from her flat on Christmas Day.

Mr Jefferies was bailed on New Year's Day after being questioned by police for three days. Shortly afterwards he told Irving Steggles, one of his former classmates at the University of Oxford, that the “ordeal is almost over”.

Mr Steggles, who now works as a pastor at a Baptist church in South Africa, said he spoke with Mr Jefferies on the telephone after he was released by detectives.

Mr Steggles said: “He is very clear that this is a mistake by the police. I think he is frustrated but he is not a man for grievances and probably understands that the police have a job to do.

“He is longing for this whole thing to be over as soon as possible.

“But there was no sign of anger from him during our conversation, because he is not that sort of man.

“It seems to me that he was arrested without a shred of evidence against him, other than that he owned a flat in the same block.

“I can see why the police wanted to question him but I do not think it was necessary that he be arrested.

“He feels that this ordeal is almost over.

“That is a common-sense view based on the fact that he has been given police bail with absolutely no conditions.

“Obviously the police cannot officially eliminate him until they complete their forensic tests and everything else, but they have released him and there is no way they would release someone who is a murderer.

“He just wants this to be over, the sooner the better.

“And I think we all want that because the sooner they catch who actually did this then the better it will be for everyone.”

Mr Steggles said he suggested to Mr Jefferies that he might take legal action against the police for wrongful arrest, but was unsure whether he intended to do so.

He added: “I think there might be an impression that he (Mr Jefferies) is definitely going to take legal action, but that is only my recommendation to him — that he seek some sort of redress for his reputation being damaged.”

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