“Joanna Yeates was depicted as a young, attractive, vulnerable, home-loving young woman... whose body was dumped callously by the side of the road... It was a readymade ‘Midsomer Murders’ script set in a respectable and leafy suburb. The search for a ‘depraved monster’ began. ‘I was the person’, according to the news media”
– Christopher Jefferies, 16th March 2012
|44 Canynge Road, Clifton|
Mr. Jefferies himelf lived in the larger of the two first floor flats. He was active in the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme. He evidently took very seriously his task of keeping tabs on everyone, telling each of his tenants when the others were away, and of telling his neighbours about everything that went on too. Whether he had installed CCTV surveillance at 44 Canynge Road has never been reported.
|Longwood Lane, where Joanna’s body was dumped|
|The drive at 44 Canynge Rd and the entrance|
to the flats on the 1st & 2nd floors
Towards midnight on Sunday, 19th December 2010, Greg Reardon rang round various friends of theirs in Bristol to ask them if Joanna were with them or if they could suggest where she might be. About 12.30 a.m. he tried to telephone the landlord, but Mr. Jefferies did not answer his phone.
The 2nd witness statement
|The landlord told police he had been|
aware of two or three people leaving
44 Canynge Rd by the gate to
Joanna’s front path (left)
In statement to the Leveson Inquiry, he wrote that the intervening hedge and the darkness had prevented him from seeing the persons.
He telephoned the police during the evening of 21st December 2010 and told them about this incident. Is it really to be believed that a clear-thinking, responsible man like Mr. Jefferies could have overlooked such a crucial last sighting of his missing tenant the first time the detective had interviewed him? Was his action precipitated by discrepancies that he had noted between the account given in the police video of the public appeal that had just been released, featuring Joanna’s parents and boyfriend and Det. Supt. Mark Saunders, and his own observations? Had he recognised the two people with Joanna as Greg Reardon and her lover?
The following day, 22nd December 2010, the police officer who had taken his first statement came to Mr. Jefferies’s flat and asked him if one of the people he had seen could have been a woman. He volunteered a second witness statement to the police. Mr. Jefferies never testified at the trial of Vincent Tabak, nor has either of his witness statements ever been made public. However, various conflicting accounts of the contents of his second statement did emerge, both at the time and subsequently at the Leveson Inquiry. He had allegedly told detectives in his statement that he had seen three people – one of whom he believed was Joanna – leaving her property shortly after 9.00 p.m. as he parked his car in the street.
He himself contributed to the muddying of the waters by subsequently casting doubt on the date when he believed this sighting had taken place. As he had evidently been parking his car on the driveway until the snow had made it difficult to drive out without assistance, it seems more probable that the sighting had taken place on the Saturday rather than the Friday, and this indicates that Joanna might still have have been alive.
Was this 2nd statement from Mr. Jefferies the reason why the police abruptly withdrew the video featuring Joanna’s boyfriend from the internet at about the same time? Did the landlord notice a light on in her flat and its external security light switching itself on at a time when there was supposed to be nobody at home?
|DCI Gareth Bevan appeals for|
information about a pizza
The examination by the pathologists of Joanna Yeates’s body and her injuries after she was found pointed very strongly to an unintended jealousy killing resulting from a violent domestic argument. She was wearing only one sock, most probably because she was prevented from finishing dressing after being surprised in an intimate situation and killed shortly afterwards. If Joanna had invited a married man back to her flat that weekend, their very discretion would make it easier for her boyfriend to persuade everyone that it had been Friday when she had disappeared. The absence of rape of such a pretty, vulnerable girl strongly suggested it was not a ritualistic or psychopathic random killing. The suspicious speed with which the police started looking into very unlikely suspects suggests that they already knew who the killer is, and that they were under irresistible pressure not to convict him – or that there was pressure from the media to find a more sensational suspect – or pressure from a private company to find a suspect whose conviction would result in publicity for DNA testing techniques. The fact that there was NO SEXUAL ASSAULT is very strong evidence of this.
|Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones|
Mr. Jefferies told several of his neighbours about his concerns about the leak of his 2nd statement, but not Vincent Tabak nor Tanja Morson, as they were far away in the Netherlands by this time.
prior to his arrest
Chris Jefferies allegedly told detectives that he saw three people – one of whom he believed was Joanna – leaving her property. He spotted the trio shortly after 9 p.m. on December 17th 2010 – not long after Jo arrived home alone – as he parked his car in the street.
Mr Jefferies said: “Everything I am aware of I have told the police and I really don’t want to talk about it.” Another resident of 44 Canynge Road, Geoffrey Hardyman, 78, who lives the top floor flat, said: “He saw people coming out after dark as he was parking his car. I don’t think he was really paying any attention but just assumed they were from flat 1 – Joanna’s flat. He didn’t know if they were male or female. It was after about 9 p.m. and he thought they must have been her with friends, or just friends of hers.”
One close neighbour said: “The landlord of the building has said he saw Jo leaving with two people on the Friday night she disappeared.”
Another Canynge Road resident, who does not want to be named, said there had been reports of other people acting suspiciously in the area. He said: “Somebody living in the area observed people acting suspiciously in sufficient detail on the night Jo went missing. They have a much clearer idea of who these people might be.”
Christopher Jefferies told Sky News: “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. 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. I definitely cannot say that I saw Joanna Yeates that evening. No.”
From The Mail, 30th December 2010: “Another neighbour, Liz Lowman, said: ‘He said he saw two to three people leave the communal basement flat entrance talking in mild quiet tones. He does not remember what sex they are or what they look like’.”
Vincent Tabak and Tanja Morson were visiting his family in the Netherlands, but they saw the video of their irritated landlord, surrounded by journalists, on TV or their laptop. They must have been astonished by the discrepancies between what he had told them a week ago and his vehement denials in front of the reporters.
|Chief Constable Colin Port|
The landlord is arrested
At breakfast-time on Thursday 30th December 2010 Joanna Yeates’s and Vincent Tabak’s landlord, Christopher Jefferies, heard a knock on the door of his flat. It was just after 7.00 a.m. A voice outside said, “It’s the Police, Mr. Jefferies. We need your help”. He opened the door and admitted the officers who were standing there (whose names have never made public). He was at once arrested on suspicion of Joanna’s murder. If his experience after he was taken to the police station resembled that of Vincent Tabak and other murder suspects, he would have been told to take off all his clothes without any privacy, and subjected to a humiliating intimate medical examination. The woman doctor who obtained this “carnal knowledge” might feel she was just doing her job, but to the helpless and frightened Christopher Jefferies she was little better than a rapist.
As he had had no idea that he was a suspect until he was arrested, this was most probably the time when a swab of his saliva was taken to establish his DNA profile.
He would have been deeply shocked by the time detectives began to interrogate him by asking him the same questions over and over again about the details of how he came to kill Joanna and dispose of her body.
The police’s presumed grounds for suspecting him were:
- He had attempted to incriminate two other people, one of whom may have been Joanna’s boyfriend (whom the police had just declared was not a suspect), by volunteering additional witness testimony (on 22nd December 2010) that he had seen and heard them in Joanna’s company during this period
- The entire nation had seen TV footage of him behaving angrily towards journalists, obstructing their legitimate pursuit of copy for their readers
- As he had told police that he trained regularly at a gymnasium, it could not be ruled out that he would be capable of overpowering the diminutive Joanna if he lost his temper, which was obviously easily ignited
- The blue colour of his untamed hair indicated that he might also develop a blue beard if held long enough in police custody
- In his Neighbourhood Watch capacity he was alleged by unnamed former tenants to be a “peeping Tom”, who had forbidden them to put up curtains, and habitually glanced in through the ground-floor windows to check that people were where they should be, and were not doing anything they shouldn’t do. At the trial of Vincent Tabak, Mr. Nigel Lickley QC would claim that, after the murder, the defendant had told the police that he had seen Mr. Jefferies use his own keys to let himself into the smaller basement flat. Legal journalist Sally Ramage (Criminal Law Journal, January 2012) states that Tanja Morson too had said the same thing to the police on the same occasion. However, the landlord could have been held criminally liable for illegal activities related to drugs or prostitution carried out covertly by his tenants. The very fact that Joanna was killed immediately vindicated the landlord’s suspicions and his right to spy on his tenants
- He had a key to Joanna Yeates’s flat
- He had no alibi for the time when she was believed to have been killed
- Despite being totally unpractical (according to his ex-colleague Douglas Henderson) and having neither a wife nor grown-up children, Christopher Jefferies kept two cars – a Chrysler Neon and a Volvo S40 – both of which police took away, very theatrically, before the eyes of the press, for forensic examination. Geoffrey Hardyman explained to The Telegraph (5 Jan 2011) that the Chrysler actually belongs to Irving Steggles, the minister of a church in South Africa, for whom Christopher Jefferies has acted as car-sitter for several years.
|Police waited until the press were assembled before|
dramatically removing the landlord’s two cars
from 44 Canynge Road
The real reasons that may be conjectured for the arrest of the landlord are:
- To intimidate him into not revealing publicly that he had seen someone he believed was Joanna on the Saturday or the Sunday
- To intimidate him into not revealing publicly that he had seen her running down her path wearing only indoor clothes and no boots
- To intimidate him into not revealing publicly his knowledge of the identity of Joanna’s secret lover
- To intimidate him into not revealing publicly that on more than one occasion he had seen Joanna bringing a man back to her flat when Greg Reardon was away, and that he suspected these men were clients who made a contribution to the £47,000 estate that The Mail reported she left
- To entrap Vincent Tabak and his girlfriend into volunteering witness testimony about the landlord’s car and the discrepancies between what Mr. Jefferies had previously told neighbours about his sightings of Joanna and what he had refused to tell reporters on TV. Vincent Tabak’s voluntary testimony was potentially incriminating for Mr. Jefferies, enabling the CPS to deny bail to the Dutchman and ultimately provide the judge with an excuse to add 2 years to his sentence
- To intimidate Mr. Jefferies and make him so fearful of talking to journalists that there was no risk that he would publicly express the view that police had got the wrong man when they came to arrest his courteous and civilised tenant.
|The Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC|
(Source: The Telegraph)
Christopher Jefferies under house arrest
|Police took Mr Jefferies to Bristol Magistrates’ Court|
to apply for an extension to question him further.
The press were not informed about this until after
he had been taken back to the police station
- Two detectives from Bristol had been dispatched to Holland to take statements from Vincent Tabak and his girlfriend about their observation that the landlord’s car had been moved during the night of Joanna’s disappearance, and, presumably, many other things that Mr. Jefferies had told them about his sightings – but these have never been made public.
- Police had taken his car away for forensic examination, but would not have had time to obtain a DNA profile from any traces of blood they would claim to have found. The magistrate might, however, be influenced if they told him they had found blood spots with her blood group in the luggage compartment.
- The magistrate may also have been told that blonde hairs resembling Joanna’s had been found in the luggage compartment.
- Having confiscated his computer, police would certainly find evidence that Mr. Jefferies had been following the progress of “Operation Braid” on the internet, since he did not own a TV. The magistrate would easily be persuaded that a computer analyst had found that the landlord had Googled Longwood Lane before Joanna’s body had been found.
- Police may also have claimed a match between black fibres found on Joanna’s body with a coat found in Christopher Jefferies’s flat.
After three days of questioning in custody, the landlord was released without charge, but remained on bail until 4th March 2011, i.e., an unprecedented six weeks after Vincent Tabak had been charged with murder. Mr. Jefferies was effectively kept under house arrest during this period. The landlord, a central person in the case, was never call as a witness to testify about his sightings of Joanna nor the curious case of the car in the night. Neither he nor the police has ever revealed the true contents of his witness statements. His own solicitor, Bambos Tsiattalou, gave Mr. Jefferies’s friends, who were chaperoning him in a safe house, very strict instructions not to let him go anywhere where he might be accosted by any journalists.
|Prison chaplain Peter Brotherton,|
who testified in court but omitted
to tell the jury that he was a
Supervising Officer at a
Cambridgeshire prison, Whitemoor
In an interview in a TV programme, Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories: Joanna Yeates (22th June 2016), Mr. Jefferies produced his own explanation for the delay in releasing him from bail: “I gather that one of the reasons for the delay was that Vincent Tabak, when he was arrested, refused to say anything, and therefore the police continued to entertain the suspicion that possibly there had been some sort of collusion between myself and Vincent Tabak.” The mind boggles at the suggestion that the landlord could have used his key to the flat to let Vincent Tabak in to lie in wait for Joanna, and perhaps even help him move the body afterwarrds.
The public has been led to believe that Vincent Tabak confessed to Peter Brotherton about the middle of February 2011. It is curious that Mr. Jefferies, in his public pronouncements, has never drawn attention to the delay of more than two weeks between this so-called confession and his own release from bail. This suggests that he is one of the few who is very well aware that no such confession was actually made.
The DNA merchants jump on the bandwagon
|Lindsey Lennen (left) with|
an unidentified man
If the enhanced partial DNA from the body matched Vincent Tabak’s DNA, then it could not have matched Christopher Jefferies’s DNA. That would have been a very good reason for police not to arrest the landlord. Why did they wait nearly three weeks (with the aggressive national media growing increasingly critical and impatient) until 20th January 2011 to arrest Vincent Tabak? The fact that they did arrest the landlord and did wait three weeks proves that the match obtained by analysing the unidentified body fluid on Joanna’s body was fake, contrived in the secure knowledge that it would be safe to do so, because the police were planning to trick Vincent Tabak into making a false admission of guilt anyway. As Ms Lennen herself so deceitfully stated to Jon Henley, the existence of the ‘confession’ meant that the DNA evidence would not be subject to further scrutiny.
Did forensic scientists respond to the release of the landlord on 1st January 2011 by putting pressure on A & S Constabulary on 2nd January 2011 that resulted in the exclusive DNA story in The Mail on 3rd January 2011? They knew very well that they had not told the embarassed police about any DNA from Mr. Jefferies on Joanna’s body, so they were in a position to steer the investigation in a direction that would bring them maximum publicity and profit.
Why was the landlord not called to testify?
|Detective Constable Karen Thomas|
The Detective Constable subsequently told the court that it was this telephoned attempt to incriminate his landlord that had first aroused the police’s suspicions of Vincent Tabak. It was also used as an argument by the CPS against granting him bail, and by the judge as an ‘aggravating factor’ for increasing his sentence.
However, Mr. Jefferies has never refuted this allegation that he moved his Volvo during the night. He was never called to testify at Vincent Tabak’s trial, nor did the jury ever hear his two witness statements. The jury did not hear ALL the evidence. If they had heard his 2nd witness statement, the case against the defendant would have collapsed.
The landlord and the libelDuring the 3 days when the landlord was being questioned by police, and unknown to him, the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the Scotsman all published speculative and libellous articles about him. “In recognition of the immense distress and damage” caused, these newspapers had all agreed in July 2011 to apologise for the “seriously defamatory” allegations made in the wake of the landscape architect’s December 2010 death and pay substantial damages. Later, the Daily Mirror was fined £50,000 and The Sun £18,000 for contempt of court over publication of articles about Mr. Jefferies. Three judges at the High Court handed out the penalties to the publishers of the two tabloid newspapers. The lawyer acting for him in this action was Louis Charalambous, of the firm of Simons, Muirhead and Burton.
after his release from bail
|Prof. Brian Cathcart|
From the landlord's interview in FT Magazine, October 8, 2011 :
“The whole process of being arrested and taken into custody is really designed – as far as its effect on me is concerned – to strip you of your own identity, because your clothes are taken away, your possessions are taken away, you are given other clothes, you are held incommunicado to a very large degree. And then all these extraordinary falsehoods are woven around this now almost personality-less identity. So it’s very unsettling. You know who you are and yet you have none of the trappings of that person, and here is this quite foreign, alternative personality which people are trying to foist upon you.” The result, Jefferies says, still in his clear, even tone, is a sense of violation. “My identity had been violated. My privacy had been intruded upon. My whole life … I don’t think it would be too strong a word to say that it was a kind of rape that had taken place.”
|Journalist Rachel Cooke,|
The landlord and Lord Leveson
|The Rt. Hon. Sir Brian Leveson|
|Robert Jay QC|
Mr. Jefferies’s damages from the news media were settled out of court in a matter of months, whereas nothing further has ever been heard of his claim against Avon & Somerset Constabulary. Is there a connection between this claim and his failure to testify at Vincent Tabak’s trial? The deceitful BBC “Crimewatch” propaganda film released about 6th November 2011 reported that there was no DNA evidence against Mr. Jefferies. He has never revealed whether the police confronted him during his arrest with the curious case of the car in the night, the telephone call from Tanja Morson in Holland and DC Karen Thomas’s interview with Vincent Tabak at Schiphol, although the landlord’s lawyer must have copies of their statements, as these were among the police’s grounds for holding him on bail. The only clue Mr. Jefferies has given about how he felt about that telephone call was his relief that Vincent Tabak “admitted” killing Joanna Yeates and was convicted. Is there much more to the role played in the Joanna Yeates case by Christopher Jefferies than meets the eye?
I understand that the length of time that you spent on police bail caused you signficant distress and inevitably prolonged the period of time when you remained in the public eye as someone who was still suspected of involvement in an appalling crime. The police did not make it clear publicly that you were no longer a suspect in the investigation as soon as you were released from bail on 5th March 2011. While it is not normal practice to make such a public statement, in the circumstances of the exceptional media attention your arrest attracted I acknowledge we should have considered this and I am very sorry for the suffering you experienced as a result.”
I also wish to confirm that all DNA, fingerprint and photographic evidence about you collected by Avon and Somerset Constabulary following your arrest has been destroyed. This can not of course erase the hurt you suffered but it represents a complete vindication of your character to the world at large. I value an opportunity to meet you and discuss any lessons that the Constabulary could learn from your experience.”
– Nick Gargan QPM, Chief Constable, 5th August 2013
|Writer Peter Morgan|
|Director Roger Mitchell|
|Actor Jason Watkins|
- He was vilified by the entire nation on the basis of his strange hairstyle and casual reminiscences alleged to come from unnamed ex-pupils and ex-tenants of his, in total disregard for his excellent character and his lack of any motive for killing Joanna. The forceful one-sidedness of this campaign, the anonymity of the sources, and his subsequent success in winning substantial damages from the news media, point to Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s director of propaganda, Amanda Hirst, as the secret architect behind the vilification of Mr. Jefferies.
- In due course the public came to consider him as totally exonerated and as a shocking victim of police stupidity, and he was invited twice to testify at the Leveson Inquiry, despite the fact that his innocence was never formally established in open court.
- There is a grim irony in the rise to fame of this supposed victim of media irresponsibility and his participation in a national project to force the press to become more truthful, even though he himself misled the Leveson Inquiry about his 2nd witness statement to the police, and he continues to suppress the inconvenient truths it contains about Joanna’s last weekend. The more he talks about his experiences in public, the more Mr. Jefferies continues to deceive the public about the persons and activities he witnessed, about the police’s real motives for arresting him and then releasing him on protracted bail, the theory that he collueded with Vincent Tabak, the source of the leak of his 2nd witness statement and the staging of his doorstepping, and where responsibility really lies for the unattributed slurs on his character that became public during his period in custody and for which he was so richly compensated.
- His three days in police custody gave him a terrifying glimpse into the abyss and an unenviable understanding of how the police can trick and coerce an intelligent, law-abiding citizen such as Vincent Tabak into associating himself with a serious crime in a way that leads to a black hole from which there is no escape.
- His subsequent active participation in campaigning to lobby for press restraints favourable to the police may have been imposed on him as an unreported condition of his release from custody. He is locked into a vicious pact with Avon & Somerset Constabulary that ensures that neither can ever allow the other to make public the text of his 2nd Witness Statement.
- He, of all suspects, knows that his own analogy with “Midsomer Murders” was illusory, because most of the TV series’s fictional killers are persons with a motive but without any prior criminal record, who nevertheless kill remorselessly, because they are a bit “weird” – whereas real killers have always lacked remorse, and kill only because they have a powerful motive and know that they are going to be able to manipulate the police into pouncing on some unfortunate innocent.
Is 44 Canynge Road an unlucky house?
|44 Canynge Road, Clifton|
- Joanna Yeates, who was murdered seven weeks after moving in.
- Vincent Tabak, who was convicted of murdering his neighbour there.
- Tanja Morson, whose dream of marriage in 2011 was shattered there.
- Greg Reardon, whom the police did not suspect.
- Christopher Jefferies, who was arrested and reviled but became a national celebrity.
- Stephen Johnston, a teacher who lived in the small ground-floor flat until 1999, and the child he was convicted of abusing there between 1991 and 1994. He received a substantial prison sentence.
- A brilliant Clifton College math teacher who in the 1970s occupied the first-floor flat, had a 1st class Oxford University degree and a Ph.D, and died of leukemia aged 35, leaving a wife and five small children.