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Joanna Yeates's body released to family for funeral

Original Source: GUARDIAN: MONDAY 31 JANUARY 2010
Steven Morris , Monday 31 January 2011 18.47 GMT

Father says they feel 'lucky' they can give her a proper funeral after suspect Vincent Tabak appears in court for third time

Joanna Yeates's family can begin to plan her funeral after her body was released, it emerged today. Photograph: Avon And Somerset Police/PA

The father of the murdered landscape architect Joanna Yeates said today the family was "lucky" it could give her a proper funeral.

Yeates's father, David, said the family was more fortunate than people like Kate and Gerry McCann who do not know what happened to their daughter, Madeleine, after she vanished while they were on holiday in Portugal.

Yeates spoke after the man accused of killing his daughter, Dutch national Vincent Tabak, appeared in court for the third time and a trial date was provisionally set for October.

During a preliminary hearing at Bristol crown court it emerged that Tabak's defence team had instructed Nat Carey, one of the UK's leading pathologists, to carry out a postmortem and after that examination last week, the body was released to the family, clearing the way for the funeral to take place.

Tabak, an architectural engineer who lived next door to Yeates in Bristol, appeared in court via video link from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire.

Apparently in the same red round-necked sweater he wore for his two previous court appearances, Tabak, 32, seemed to listen intently to proceedings. In court for the first time was Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones, the man who is leading the murder hunt.The court heard there will be a plea hearing on May 4 and the judge said he had "pencilled in" a trial date for October 4.

Tabak is accused of murdering 25-year-old Yeates between 16 December and 26 December last year. Yeates vanished after drinks with friends in Bristol and her body was found eight days later on Christmas morning at Failand, three miles from the home she shared in Clifton with her boyfriend, Greg Reardon.


Yeates's parents did not attend the hearing but speaking at the family home in Hampshire, David Yeates, 63, said: "We keep reminding ourselves that in some way we are, we are loath to use the word but, 'lucky'.

"We really feel for those people who have not been able to bury their children. The McCanns are one set of people like this but there are others as well. Whatever we have experienced, they probably had it a lot worse. We keep reminding ourselves that we are not unique."

Yeates said the family was planning an "ordinary funeral". He said: "We are not trying to glamourise what has happened. We are anticipating over a hundred people but we are attempting to keep it to those people who actually know Jo rather than people who just knew of her.

"We cannot celebrate her life. It is difficult to associate celebration with what has happened. We are still having difficulty coming to terms with the fact she is not with us. Most of the time it is as though she is still alive. It has been tortuous for us to reach this stage."


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