Posted: Thu 31st Jan 2019

Man jailed in 1976 for the manslaughter of 15-year-old Janet Commins in Flint has had his conviction quashed

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jan 31st, 2019


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A man who was jailed in 1976 for the manslaughter of 15-year-old Janet Commins in Flint has had his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Noel Jones, 61, had been accused of the murder of the schoolgirl whose body was found under a hedge in a school playing field in Flint, she had strangled to death.

Mr Jones spent six years in prison for the crime he didn’t commit, her real killer, Stephen Hough was caught by DNA four decades later.

Hough, 60, from  Flint, was found guilty in 2017 of raping and killing a 15-year-old girl.

In 2016 a sample of Hough’s DNA was taken by police, it was found to match DNA taken from sperm cells at the crime scene in 1976 and stored for 40 years, it was calculated to be billion times more likely to have originated from Hough than anyone else.

Hough was jailed for 12 years for manslaughter, eight years for rape and eight years for serious sexual assault – sentences running concurrently.

Commenting on at the time of Hough’s sentencing Det Supt Iestyn Davies from the North Wales Police Major Incident Team said;

“The sentencing of Stephen Anthony Hough will, I sincerely hope, help to bring some degree of justice to the mother, family, friends of a 15 year old schoolgirl who was callously killed in Flint 40 years ago.

Janet Commins was subjected to an horrific, sustained and brutal sexually motivated assault in January 1976 and the impact upon her family, friends and the entire community was enormous.   Hough is now in prison where he rightly belongs.

This was a very challenging, complicated and emotionally charged investigation and I’d like to publically acknowledge Janet’s family, friends, community and our partners for their understanding, patience and support during what must have been an unimaginably difficult time.

The methodical re-examination of case papers, exhibits and witnesses after 40 years has proved very testing and I’m grateful for the dedication and professionalism of the investigating officers and Crown Prosecution Service who have worked tirelessly since new evidence came to light last year (2016).”

Following the conviction of Stephen Hough, Noel James issued a statement saying:

“I was originally charged with the murder of Miss Commins in 1976. The confession I gave during that investigation was false and only given under pressure.

During the original trial for murder, when offered a chance to plead guilty to manslaughter, I felt I had no option but to take that plea, due to the false confession I had made, even though I knew I was completely innocent. I was only 18 years old at the time.

I was sentenced to 12 years in custody, of which I served six years.

When new DNA techniques enabled the Crown to match DNA on Miss Commins to Stephen Hough, and completely exclude me from any forensic findings, I was asked by the police to provide a statement to assist them in the prosecution of Stephen Hough.

I then gave evidence for the prosecution during the trial. I was relieved when justice was finally done upon the conviction of Stephen Hough.

I would like to publicly express my condolences to the family of Miss Commins and was very moved that at the sentence hearing of Stephen Hough they gave some kind words of sympathy and support for me.”

 

 

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