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Man who raped and killed Janet Commins in 1976 admits assault on second teenager

UK News | Published:

Stephen Hough was convicted of the 15-year-old’s manslaughter, rape and buggery.

Janet Commins

A former soldier who was convicted last week of raping and killing a schoolgirl 40 years ago has now admitted sexually assaulting another teenager last year.

Stephen Hough, 58, let an innocent man go to jail and denied any involvement in the death of Janet Commins, 15, in Flint in 1976 during his three-week trial at Mold Crown Court.

He was cleared by the jury last week of murder, but convicted of her manslaughter, rape and buggery.

Stephen Hough
Stephen Hough (North Wales Police/PA)

Jurors were told of a billion-to-one match of his DNA profile to semen left at the crime scene and stored for four decades.

But they were not told police only made the DNA match after he was arrested in February last year for sexually assaulting another girl, aged 15, and swabs were taken.

Hough, a father-of-two, separated from his second wife and working as a lorry driver after being thrown out of the Army for attacking and strangling another woman in the 1980s, was due to go on trial for the latest offences in September.

Instead, he was sentenced to 12 years in jail for his attack on Janet, then after a short adjournment returned to court to plead not guilty to rape, but admitted sexual assault by touching the youngster in February last year.

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Janet Commins
Janet Commins (North Wales Police/PA)

He plied his victim with drink before leaving her bruised, with his semen and DNA later recovered from her body and underwear.

The girl, as a victim of a sexual offence, cannot be identified.

In a victim impact statement, she told the court: “Thinking about it makes me feel sick.

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“Having heard the devastation of what Stephen Hough has done previously, I feel fortunate things were not worse.”

Mr Justice Clive Lewis sentenced Hough to three years for the sexual assault on the girl, to be served consecutive to his 12-year sentence. He will be eligible for parole after half of the 15-year sentence.

Passing sentence on Hough for the second time in a day, the judge said: “Over the last 40 years, you have killed someone, raped and buggered her and also been found guilty of grievous bodily harm on another woman. You have shown no remorse.”

Janet Commins’ family described the defendant as a “sexual predator”.

Outside, Derek Ierston, who identified his niece’s body, spoke on behalf of the family, saying they were “very, very disappointed” with the sentence.

He added: “But the law is such you have to accept it, whether you like it or not.

“I think the judge is very, very good but his hands are tied.”

Hough hid his guilt for killing Janet while another man, Noel Jones, was jailed for her manslaughter in 1976.

North Wales Police is now under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over how it handled the 1976 investigation at the time of Janet’s death.

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