Christmas Crimes – Joanna Yeates Murder – Lie detector test in Bristol

Dec 8, 2018

We associate the festive season with family gatherings, exchanging gifts and good food. However, there have been some horrific Christmas crimes committed in the UK at this time of the year. The first of such crimes we want to cover is the Joanna Yeates murder. A lie detector test in Bristol could have helped the investigation in so many ways. It was a crime that shocked an entire community.

Joanna Yeates

Landscape architect, Joanna, disappeared just a week before Christmas. Having been out with her workmates for a drink on the evening of 17 December 2010, she just vanished.  Her body was found on Christmas Day, lying in the snow on land in the picturesque area of Failand in Somerset. Failand was around 5 miles away from her Bristol home. She had been strangled.

It took the police almost a month to find her murderer despite the fact that he was a close neighbour. Vincent Tabak was charged with the murder on 22 January 2011.  The main reason for the delay in arresting him was that police focused their attention on landlord, Christopher Jefferies who was resident in the same apartment block.

If you don’t know the case, take a look at the documentary below to gain some insight.

Arrest of the wrong man

Mr Jefferies was arrested on 30 December 2010 and held for 48 hours before being released on bail. The bail condition was not lifted until March 2011 and during that time Mr Jefferies was hounded by the press.  He later received an undisclosed amount in libel damages from newspapers that had defamed him.  A lie detector test in Bristol would have eliminated Christopher Jefferies from the investigation within a few hours of taking it.

Life imprisonment

In October 2011 Tabak received a life sentence for the young architect’s murder. It was unfortunate that Joanna’s boyfriend was away on that weekend. Tabak took advantage of her situation and strangled her for his own sexual gratification.  His callousness was evident since he was captured on CCTV buying snacks and alcohol at a local shop a short while after he had disposed over her body.

It transpired that Tabak who was a Dutch engineer, had an obsession with sexual violence when police looked through his computer.  They found pornographic videos as well as paedophilia images, something he would be prosecuted for some 4 years after his incarceration.

How a lie detector test in Bristol would have helped

Many police forces in Britain use the polygraph to help monitor prisoners who are released on license.  In the case of sex offenders it is compulsory for them to submit to periodic polygraph tests should the Home Office order it.

Had a lie detector test in Bristol been used to establish Christopher Jefferies’ innocence, police would have immediately focused their attention elsewhere. Since there had been no break in to Joanna’s flat, it was clear she let her murderer in voluntarily. This naturally would narrow it down to someone she trusted to let into her flat.  The neighbours are usually the first to be interviewed in a murder investigation.  Not necessarily as suspects, but as potential witnesses.  With the focus away from Mr Jefferies they may well have concentrated their attention where it belonged.

The misery made of Mr Jefferies life by the media would have been cut short very quickly with polygraph results. A short interview with him about his ordeal can be seen below:

We would love to know what you think.


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