Joanna Yeates
Joanna Yeates Reuters

Vincent Tabak strangled Joanna Yeates for 20 seconds after she screamed when he put his arm around her back, a court heard today.

Extracts from Tabak's statement were read out to the jury at Bristol Crown Court for the first time. Tabak, 33, claims he put his hand around Miss Yeates' neck and held it there for 20 seconds to stop her screams, but did not use more than "moderate" force.

Tabak admits the manslaughter of Miss Yeates but denies her murder.

"The two were facing each other. He put one arm around her back with his hand in the small of her back and she screamed," said the statement, which was read out by the prosecuting QC Nigel Lickley

"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. He applied no more than moderate force on a scale of one to three - light, moderate and severe. He did not intend death or serious injury."

Pathologist Dr Russell Delany was then asked about Tabak's statement that he held Miss Yeates' throat "for about 20 seconds."

"That period of time would be sufficient to cause the signs of venous obstruction and would be long enough to result in her death," replied Dr Delany.

Dr Delany also reported that Tabak may have only used one hand to strangle Miss Yeates.

"My suggestion is that the injuries are consistent with being caused by one hand - a hand larger than the average hand perhaps."

Miss Yeates suffered 43 injuries at the hands of Tabak at her flat in Clifton, Bristol, on December 17, Bristol Crown Court has heard.

Miss Yeates' body was discovered in a country lane by a couple walking their dog on Christmas morning last year.