The murder trial of R v Vincent Tabak [2011]


The trial took place at Bristol Crown Court, England, United Kingdom for the murder of Joanna Yeates, and Dr Vincent Tabak was the Defendant. The author attended at court for this trial and this paper notes many of the obvious and unsatisfactory legal and procedural points in this trial. Dr Vincent Tabak was convicted of the murder at this trial. Of course the jury were not to know the finer points of law as the lower court judge did not advise the jury of any such points before they adjourned to make their decision. All but one concluded that Dr Tabak was guilty as charged, although even the charge was vague and all-encompassing as he was charged with ‘murder between Friday 17 December 2010 and Sunday 19 December 2010’. Defence counsel, very eminent barrister-at-law, appeared to be cowed by the other side and let them walk all over this case procedurally. For example, prosecution counsel handed him 1200 pages of evidence on the first day of the trial, as if to FULFIL disclosure obligations. E was stunned and asked the court for time off. But this was never again discussed. The lower court judge appeared as if he had already decided on the case. When Defence Counsel asked him if he had before him a copy of a certain document, he flippantly say he had it but had left it on his desk in his room. When Defence Counsel, of international renown, was ready to present his opening speech and cross-examination of his client, Dr Vincent Tabak, this lower court judge dismissed the jury to their lunch break knowing that counsel was going to speak. Court had to be adjourned and the members of the jury quickly assembles by the court porters as they were leaving the court, which must have hampered their interest in what counsel’s statement said. A photograph of a dead body by a roadside, allegedly, Miss Yeates, was shown by projector slide a dozen irrelevant times during the trial period, thus embedding that photograph in the jury’s mind. The computer evidence leaves much to be desired and could, some suggested, easily have been concocted by the prosecution team, abusing the law of metadata evidence. Te lady who presented it did not give the court her qualifications and her expertise if any- and much more that beggars belief and loses trust in the British Criminal Justice System, such as it is, following ‘form over substance’.

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