Stephen Hough jailed for 12 years for killing and raping Flint schoolgirl Janet Commins

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Staff Reporter

FORMER soldier Stephen Hough, convicted last week of raping and killing a 15-year-old girl back in 1976, has been jailed for 12 years for the offence.

Mr Justice Clive Lewis told the killer of Janet Commins, whose body was found on a school field in Flint, that he had not shown the slightest remorse.

The judge said Hough must have thought he had got away with it for some 40 years, but advances in DNA techniques had brought him to justice.

The victim’s body was found by three children playing hide and seek.

Hough, 58, from Flint, was convicted of manslaughter, rape and sexual assault at Mold Crown Court last Thursday. He was cleared of murder.

On Monday, he received a 12-year sentence for manslaughter and concurrent eight-year sentences for rape and buggery.

“You have never shown the slightest remorse at any time,” the judge said, adding his victim was a particularly vulnerable

15-year-old schoolgirl.

The judge said Janet went out on January 7, leaving a note for her parents saying she was going to the swimming baths.

She went there, she saw and talked to a friend at the baths at about 7.35pm and another friend saw her chatting to two other people on a road near where she lived at 8.15pm.

Janet went to another friend’s house to see if that friend could come out to play.

That was between 8.15pm and 8.40pm – but that friend could not come out.

“Janet left. She never returned home,” the judge said.

Her body was found hidden in bushes close to her school four days later on Sunday, January 12.

“Janet had been killed in the course of a violent, sexual assault,” he said.

At the time Hough was 16, a few days short of his 17th birthday, was working or looking for work and was fit and healthy, playing rugby and ice hockey.

“At some stage that night you must have come across Janet. You held her face down while you raped her. In the course of that sexual assault she was unable to breathe and she died,” he was told yesterday.

The judge said Hough left her face down for some time before he turned the body over and dragged the body to a thicket near to where he lived and hid it in bushes.

The judge told Hough: “You must have thought that you had avoided responsibility for your crimes.”

Like many young men in Flint he had been questioned by police about his movements that night.

“But you lied to the police about where you were, and what you were doing, in order to conceal your involvement,” the judge said.

One unusual feature of the case was that another person, a partially literate 18-year-old man was arrested and then convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years.

As a result Hough hoped his responsibility for the crimes would never be known.

“You were not, however, able to avoid justice,” he said.

Samples had been taken from the body and her clothing, they were preserved and advances meant that a DNA profile had been created and stored on the national data base in 2006.

Then in October 2016 police took the defendant’s DNA and a match was discovered.

Despite that evidence, “you continued to deny any involvement in her death”.

He was now to be sentenced for crimes he committed 40 years ago.

The judge said it was important to bear in mind he had been cleared of murder, the jury not being sure that he intended to kill her.

At the time he was 16 years of age with no previous convictions, but the judge told him “you knew it was wrong”.

Noel Jones, 18 at the time, admitted manslaughter and served half of 12-year prison sentence.

However, he told Hough’s trial he was made a scapegoat by police because he was a gipsy who could barely read or write.

The jury was told they could only convict Hough if they

were satisfied Jones was not involved.

Hough was questioned at the time because his grandparents’ house overlooked the area where Janet’s body was concealed.

He said he was stealing petrol from a vehicle in Flint that night and was subsequently fined for the offence.

Jury members heard the DNA showed it was a billion times more likely to belong to Hough than to anyone else.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating how the original murder investigation was handled.

Email:

it@nwn.co.uk

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