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It took Vincent Tabak just 20 seconds to throttle Joanna Yeates, court told

Vincent Tabak claims he throttled Joanna Yeates in just 20 seconds after failing to stop her screams, a court has heard.

Part of the killer's account was heard for the first time as her boyfriend described his panic after she went missing.

Greg Reardon told how annoyance at returning to a messy flat turned to “buzzing stress” as he realised she had disappeared.

Mr Reardon appeared in the witness box after prosecutor Nigel Lickley QC read an extract from Tabak's defence statement on September 22.

Mr Lickley said Tabak was facing his 25-year-old victim when the attack took place.

“He put one arm around her back with his hand in the middle of her back,” Mr Lickley said.

Tabak — who admits manslaughter but denies murder — says he initially put his other hand over her mouth.

Mr Lickley said: “He removed his hand from her mouth and the screaming continued. He then put his hand around her throat. He believes it was the one that had been from behind her back and held it there for about 20 seconds.”

As evidence continued into a second week at Bristol Crown Court, Tabak sat in the dock with his hands covering his face as Mr Reardon told how he had realised Miss Yeates was missing after returning from visiting relatives in Sheffield to their empty flat in Clifton, Bristol, on December 19.

He told jurors he paced around the flat, tidying as he went, and trying to piece together what may have happened.

He said he had repeatedly called and texted her over the weekend after leaving Miss Yeates with a “hug and a kiss” on the Friday.

“I was quite annoyed that I had not been told what her plans were and she had not got back to me, and I was starting to feel quite worried,” he told the jury.

Worry turned to panic after he then found her mobile phone and keys.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of Miss Yeates, who had been off work with a cold the previous day, wearing her white ski jacket as she walked with Mr Reardon through the snow on the morning of December 17.

The pathologist who inspected her body was questioned about Tabak's evidence as he was re-examined by the prosecution.

Mr Lickley asked Dr Russell Delaney about Tabak's statement that he held Miss Yeates's throat “for about 20 seconds”.

Dr Delaney replied: “That period of time would be sufficient to cause the signs of venous obstruction and would be long enough to result in her death.”

Miss Yeates is said to have suffered 43 injuries at the hands of Tabak on December 17 in her Bristol flat.

Quotes

Vincent Tabak’s defence statement:

“He put one arm around her back with his hand in the middle of her back. And she screamed. He put his other hand over her mouth which caused the noise of the scream to cease. He removed his hand from her mouth and the screaming continued. He then put his hand around her throat. He believes it was the one that had been from behind her back and held it there for about 20 seconds.”

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