Jo Yeates murder: poor street lighting has created haven for stalkers

January 13, 2011 | by

Street lighting where Joanna Yeates lived was ”extremely poor” leaving most CCTV inadequate and created a haven for stalkers and sex pests, experts had previously warned.

Jo Yeates murder: poor street lighting created haven for stalkers

Bristol City Council has admitted they are replacing the ‘outdated’ street lights in Clifton which fall ”well short” of modern standards of frequency and brightness.

Chillingly, the criticism echoes fears raised by the father of Glenis Carruthers who was found murdered just 400 yards from Jo’s flat in 1976.

Tragic student Glenis, 20, was strangled after leaving a birthday party in an adjacent street to the one where both Jo and her landlord Chris Jefferies lived.

Speaking 36 YEARS ago, consultant engineer William Carruthers made a dramatic appeal and warned that dim lighting could have played a part in Glenis’ murder.

He warned: ”If subdued lighting had any bearing on the murder then I think all local authorities ought to consider doing something about it for the safety of people like Glenis.”

Lighting experts today confirmed that poor lighting in the area could pose problems for police attempting to identify CCTV images.

The news comes 18 months after residents in the area made a desperate appeal to the council to replace the ageing gas lamp columns following a series of sex attacks in the area.

Lighting historian Simon Cornwell first warned that the lights in Clifton were ”unacceptable” more than a year before the tragic architect was murdered.

He said modern street lighting ”could have made the difference” in being able to identify Joanna’s killer from CCTV footage.

Mr Cornwell said: ”CCTV cameras rely on street lighting to provide brightness and contrast for the images they take.

”I can think of several examples where police have had to replace the street lights in order to enhance the CCTV.

”In the case of Joanna Yeates, if street lights meeting modern specifications had been installed, it could have made the difference.

”It is impossible to know for sure but had the lights been changed, the level of brightness would have increased and that would certainly have helped.

”It is very understandable why residents would feel unsafe in this area where it is so dimly lit.”

Jo Yeates murder: poor street lighting created haven for stalkers

Jo’s strangled body was found by dog walkers in Longwood Lane, near Failand, on Christmas Day.

Mr Cornwell, of Cambridge, said the lighting in her area still falls ”well short” of meeting modern standards.

He believes the old gas lamp columns were probably installed when there were no standards for street lighting in the 1920s.

Mr Cornwell also pointed to the very long spacing between columns of 150 to 170 feet. Even specifications drawn up in the 1930s suggest a spacing of at most 120 feet.

In May 2009, Mr Cornwell warned that the lights needed to be replaced urgently as residents were already to afraid to walk in the area at night.

He said: ”The street lighting in these roads is extremely poor by modern standards. Given the amount of parked cars casting shadows, and the maturing tree foliage, the lighting levels of these streets can only be getting worse.

”Street lighting was put up for residents so that they could see kerbs and walk to their homes safely. If that is not happening it is failing in its task.

”The lighting in these streets is unacceptable and needs to be replaced. The only solution is to replace them with modern lighting.”

Residents in Clifton today told how they had been campaigning to have the lights changed for years.

On 27-year-old woman, who did not want to be named, slammed Bristol City Council for failing to take action.

She said: ”The lights have been a problem in Clifton for years. I am far too scared to walk home by myself here at night.

”You can hardly see a few feet in front of you in some places. It is a creates real haven for attackers here and that is why these serious incidents keep happening.”

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said the force would not comment on the effect caused by the quality of the street lighting in the investigation area.

He added: ”We have looked at hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and some of the images are not of great quality. Police assess these images nevertheless and will continue to do so.”

A spokesman for Bristol City Council said a rolling programme was in place to change the lighting in the Clifton area.

He said: ”Around 330 street lights have been replaced or improved in the Clifton area over the last few years, including the column opposite where the murder victim lived.

”Replacement lanterns have been provided which give improved lighting levels. This is a rolling programme with more to come in the Clifton area.”

* Glenis, who was training to be a PE teacher at a college in Bedford, was visiting Bristol for the weekend 36 years ago to attend friend Sandy Hardyman’s 21st birthday party in Clifton.

She was not seen leaving the house of the friend in Worcester Crescent – less than half a mile from the flat where Joanna Yeates went missing on December 17.

In a remarkable twist, Sandra’s cousin was Geoffrey Hardyman, who now also lives in a flat on 44 Canynge Road, Clifton.

It is thought Glenis decided to walk to a phone box near the downs, where she was spotted with a man aged between 20 and 25 with long brown hair and a denim jacket.

Zookeeper Alfred Eliot was walking his dogs when he spotted what he thought was a ”courting couple” lying on the grass.

But the man he saw with her got up and left on his own and later Glenis’s body was found strangled on the grass verge.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Joe says:

    “These serious incident keep happening???” What ARE you talking about. Clifton is hugely safe. I have walked alone around there at night countless times and never once feared for my safety. Let’s treat this as it is – an appalling ISOLATED crime with tragic consequences. Stop the fearmongering, find the killer.

    • Caralhos says:

      Yes but you are a man and for a woman, to walk alone in that dark can be very dangerous

      • Joe says:

        And I imagine so also for an 8 year old boy. I have been walking those streets (indeed, that particular street), at night since I was 8, as there is a field by it where I used to play football with mates. My point is, the article just serves to create an atmosphere of fear, which is unhelpful and an inaccurate portrayal of the area.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a bizarre and ridiculous article. You’ve of course no idea what happened, whether it was on the street or in her house, whether the murderer was known to her or not, nothing, yet jump to your own bharmy conclusions.

    What’s more, as Joe points out, the figures don’t add up. Clifton is one of the safest areas of Bristol regardless of its “poor street lighting”.

  3. Dr John Pepper says:

    Local residents do not want things changed, because the lamps fit in with the style there.
    On topic
    The murder
    1/ A stranger would have left Jo where he killed her if she had been murdered at home, certainly, nothing was missing and she was not molested or raped, according to the police thus far.
    2/ Doesn’t seem likely a stranger would have followed on foot, where would the car then be? A car tagging along would have been way too obvious.

    3/ Seems like someone, who knew her through work, or other, showed up, and probably had a crush on her for some time, and what with Jo’s boyfriend only just having gotten off, it would have shocked Jo to see someone appear, uninvited at her door, indeed if she had been aware already of a person with a crush on her she may have clocked on immeditaly to the inappropriateness and sensed the bad vibes. The police are doing a grand job. people ought to help them insatead of

  4. Dr Pepper says:

    Instead of talking sweet nothings

  5. kbond says:

    The landlord did it

  6. Walker says:

    You give the impression that Glenis Carruthers’ father had similar concerns about the state of Clifton’s street lighting thirty-six years ago when that is not the case at all. Glenis was murdered during one of the electricity blackouts that came to define Ted Heath’s government. If Clifton’s street lighting was working as it is today at that particular point in time, her life may not have been ended so violently and prematurely.

  7. Hazel Greenwood2 says:

    I spent 6 months asking the council to put a light in the bus shelter in Stoke Bishop.
    They just made excuses I used to wait there in the dark for my bus at 5 30 each morning they were very apathetic.

  8. Davep says:

    It is scarey that so many people go missing eg Claudia Lawrence,Andrew Gosden,and recently Nathan Tomlinson.Just look on the Missing Peoples website. The police should give out more clues,as we all want this solved as quickly as possible,maybe then more witnesses will be able to help with information.The police must know if she ate the pitza.Maybe her items were planted back in her house.If it was a burgler,they would have ran away,not taken the body with them.Prehaps she wasnt killed in her flat,it would be difficult to park up a car,lift her body,and leave the flat un noticed.

  9. sam says:

    i live and work in the area and this is the first time i have heard about these so called attacks the residents want the old style lamp posts,also if the council started cutting down the trees in the area which contribute to the lighting problem i am sure the comment page would be inundated with complaints