Extra jail time for Hough for sex assault on teen that led to his capture for Commins killing.
Stephen Hough’s DNA was taken when he was arrested for a sex assault on a 15-year-old girl, and it matched with samples taken from Janet Commins.
Stephen Hough has this afternoon pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of another girl under the age of 16.
It comes within hours of being sentenced to 12 years behind bars after a jury found him guilty of raping and killing 15-year-old Janet Commins in 1976.
It was DNA taken after Hough was arrested for the more recent offence in 2016 that police discovered his profile matched the DNA profile extracted from forensic samples preserved 41 years ago.
The 58-year-old was due to stand trial in September in Newport charged with the rape and sexual assault of a girl aged 15 between February 5 and 8, 2016, charges of which the jury in the Janet Commins trial were never made aware.
Today, Hough pleaded not guilty to rape but pleaded guilty to serious sexual assault.
The prosecution accepted the plea on the grounds that there was more evidence to support the latter.
Judge, Mr Justice Clive Lewis agreed to sentence Hough separately from the Janet Commins case.
The victim’s mother was present in court to hear Hough’s fate.
The ‘no comment’ interview with Stephen Hough that helped convince cops they had found Janet Commins’ real killer
Sentencing him to three years, which will be added to his 12 year sentence, taking it to 15 years, the judge said: “The circumstances in which you come to plead guilty are unusual.”
He outlined how Hough was initially charged with five offences – three of which related to the Janet Commins case from 1976 and two related to 2016.
But the judge had ordered that the indictment be severed and tried separately.
“You were a 57-year-old man when you deliberately preyed on a young 15-year-old,” Mr Justice Lewis said.
“The three years (with a quarter reduced for the guilty plea) will be consecutive to the sentences imposed earlier today,” he added.
Hough will also have his name added to the sex offender’s register.
Mold Crown Court heard how Hough was working as a long distance lorry driver and was separated from his second wife at the time of the 2016 sexual assault.
In mitigation, defence barrister Patrick Harrington QC said he should be given credit for his guilty plea and said he has been a hardworking man throughout his life and will likely face the possibility of being homeless when he is released from prison.
In an impact statement read to the court, the victim said: “There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t been reminded of what happened.
“It makes me feel sick and upset.”
“It’s something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life and has impacted me and my family.
“It’s closed me off from the rest of society.”
It was Hough’s perverse desires last year that led to his vile secret some four decades years earlier being exposed – that he’d violently raped Janet Commins, killing her by pushing her face into the ground or putting her hand over her face and mouth so she couldn’t breathe on January 7, 1976.
Just 16 at the time, he left her body face down and then later went back to hide her, dragging her by her legs and dumping her in a thicket near Gwynedd School in Flint.
She was discovered four days later by children playing hide and seek.
At the time, illiterate gypsy, Noel Jones pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served half a 12 year prison sentence.
But it wasn’t until 2006 that cold case detectives reopened the case to see if advances in science could provide a DNA profile from the semen stains taken from Janet’s body and clothing.
They thought any evidence would link to Jones’ friend, Michael Orford, who was initially arrested alongside him.
The results were loaded into the National DNA Database and drew no match with Jones or Orford.
But ten years after scientists had extracted the DNA profile from the historic samples, it was matched with the results of a mouth swab taken after Hough’s arrest last year.
Noel Jones, despite never appealing his conviction, claims he was made a scapegoat by police and the 1976 investigation is now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Janet’s own family today expressed sympathy for Mr Jones “who has suffered as much as us since 1976.”
Police interview in video below….
Live: Stephen Hough found guilty of the rape and killing of Flint schoolgirl Janet Commins in 1976
The 58-year-old had denied the rape, murder and serious sexual assault of the 15-year-old schoolgirl
Stephen Hough has been found guilty of killing and raping Janet Commins in 1976.
The 58-year old has been on trial at Mold Crown Court accused of murdering the 15-year-old schoolgirl in Flint 41 years ago.
A jury in the 13- day murder trial took just over five-and-a-half hours to reach their unanimous verdicts on counts of manslaughter, rape and serious sexual assault.
Mr Ierston thanked police and community of Flint.
This is the end of the statement given by Janet’s uncle:
“The difficulty for the family is that he (Hough) has had a life, been married, had children but he stole Janet’s future taking away the opportunity from Eileen and the rest of family to see Janet grow get married and have her own children.
“Today’s verdict cannot bring Janet back to us but hopefully in the weeks and months to come will provide us with some closure.
“I must express the thanks of the family to the prosecuting team and to North Wales Police, particularly DS Iestyn Davies the senior investigating officer who has ensured that Eileen and the family have been supported throughout this nightmare and without bias followed the evidence wherever it has led.
“I would also like to thank the community of Flint for their continuing support at this time.”
Janet Commins: Stephen Hough guilty of 1976 rape and killing
Janet Commins left her house to go swimming with a friend and her parents Eileen and Ted never saw her alive again.
A man has been convicted of raping and killing a 15-year-old girl in 1976.
Janet Commins’ body was found on a school field in Flint, north Wales, by three children playing hide and seek.
Stephen Hough, 58, from Flint, was convicted of manslaughter, rape and sexual assault at Mold Crown Court on Thursday. He was cleared of murder.
Janet went missing after leaving her home to go swimming on 7 January 1976 and another man has already served six years for her manslaughter.
Noel Jones, who was aged 18 at the time, admitted killing Janet and served half of 12-year prison sentence.
However, he told the trial he was made a scapegoat by police because he was a Gypsy who could barely read or write.
Speaking after the case, Janet’s uncle Derek Ierston said it was “galling” to think the man responsible for her death had been “living in our community for all these years”.
Janet Commins: How police caught her killer after 41 years…. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-wales-north-east-wales-40568522
Janet made plans to go swimming on 7 January, but her mother said she did not look well so could not go.
She left her house without her parents knowing and left them a note saying she would be back by 20:30.
She left the pool just after 19:30 and told a friend she was heading straight home – but she was spotted with two boys at about 20:10.
A boy who reported seeing them said one of the boys with her was thin and fair-haired, while the other was an older-looking, about 17, and they were laughing and joking with Janet.
Edward Commins reported his daughter missing at about 23:00 that night and her body was found four days later.
Mr Hough was questioned at the time as 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.
In 2006, a review of the scientific evidence in the case was carried out and DNA from a man was identified from samples taken from Janet’s body.
In 2016, Mr Hough’s DNA was taken by police in an unrelated matter and a match was found, prompting his arrest.
DNA matching Hough’s was found on samples stored from the crime scene at the time and the jury heard it was a billion times more likely to belong to Hough than anyone else.
The court heard Janet was killed during a sexual assault and there were signs her body had been left lying face down “for some time” before being moved to where it was found.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said Janet died “as a result of her neck and her external airway being compressed and blocked during that sexual assault”.
Hough, who was 16 years old when he raped and killed Janet, will be sentenced at a later date.
Janet’s father Ted died many years ago after suffering with a long illness – her mother Eileen was hit with what the family described as “a bombshell” when she found out about the new suspect.
In a family statement read outside the court, Mr Ierston said: “It’s so galling to think that the person who so maliciously and violently took Janet’s life has been living in our community for all these years.
“The difficulty for the family is that he has had a life, been married and had children. But he stole Janet’s future and took away the opportunity for Eileen, Ted and the rest of the family to see Janet grow up, get married and have her own children.
“Today’s verdict cannot bring Janet back to us, but hopefully the weeks and months to come will provide us with some closure.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating how North Wales Police handled the original investigation.