Monday 19 February 2018

Caught by his own daughter - killer pleads guilty in 32-year-old murder case

Melanie Road. Photo: PA
Melanie Road. Photo: PA

A 64-year-old man who murdered a teenage girl in a brutal sexually motivated attack 32 years ago has been jailed for at least 22 years.

Christopher Hampton only finally admitted murdering Melanie Road, 17, in court after he was charged following a DNA breakthrough.

Melanie was sexually assaulted and died from multiple stab wounds to her chest and back after he pounced on her yards from her home in Bath in England as she made her way home from a nightclub in June 1984.

Her body was discovered at 5.30am by a milkman and his 10-year-old son.

Father-of-four Hampton, of Staple Hill Road, Fishponds, Bristol, had been due to stand trial at Bristol Crown Court on Monday after originally denying the charge.

The painter and decorator, was arrested last year after his daughter was cautioned following a a minor tiff with her boyfriend and was required to provide police with a DNA sample.

A familial match was identified between her DNA and the DNA taken from Melanie's body and clothing in 1984.

Sentencing him to life, Mr Justice Popplewell told him: "You murdered and sexually abused Melanie Road in a cul-de-sac in Bath near where you and she lived.

"You were 32. You didn't know each other. Melanie was 17, a happy, outgoing and sociable girl who at the time of her death was about to take her A-levels.

"It was a life full of promise.

"Only you will know precisely how you approached her and carried out your attack but certain things are plain from the evidence.

"It was a lengthy and brutal attack for your own sexual gratification.

"She was repeatedly stabbed - 26 times in all - with a sharp-edged knife, causing four-inch wounds.

"Eight of the wounds were to her breasts.

"You first stabbed her while she was on her feet on the street on her way home, before chasing her some 30 metres round the corner to the cul-de-sac where she died."

Following the attack, Hampton married his second wife and had a daughter, Amy, and stepson Darren with her.

"You married and had a child and lived your family life for all those years knowing the extreme misery you must have inflicted on your victim's family but you were too callous and cowardly to put an end to their heartache," the judge told Hampton.

"You will very likely die in prison."

Melanie's mother, Jean Road, sister, Karen Road, and brother, Adrian Road, read moving victim impact statements to the court.

Karen said: "I have had 32 years to fill in the gaps.

"Melanie has died hundred of times in hundreds of different ways in my mind, when I am awake, when I am asleep.

"I could tell you it is like being in a nightmare but you wake from a nightmare and life returns to normal.

"This is a nightmare you can't wake up from. Melanie's death has consumed my life.

"For 32 years I have felt as if I am living in a horror film, one in which the perpetrator has not been caught."

Mr Road described his sister as a "special person" and said they were close.

He was due to sit a naval exam on the Monday after her death - the same day she was due to sit her final A-level exams.

"I am now free of the 32 years of pain of not knowing," he told the court.

"Thirty-two years I have waited patiently for that telephone call to say 'Adrian, we have him'.

"When they told me I cried uncontrollably. Melanie was very close to me and a very special little sister."

Mrs Road said her husband "now lives in a haze of dementia hastened by our daughter's death".

"When will the pain stop?" she asked.

"The horror of that sunny day in June will never leave us.

"I was 49 years old in 1984 when all this happened.

"Now in my 81st year I pray that the family will find some peace."

Detective Chief Inspector Julie MacKay, of Avon and Somerset Police, paid tribute to Melanie's family for conducting themselves with the "utmost dignity and composure".

"Their faith in us to find the person who murdered Melanie has certainly given us the extra drive to keep going," she said.

"The key to solving this case has been a combination of traditional police inquiries, advances in forensic science and the tenacity of a small group of officers and police staff.

"They have been supported by the wider constabulary and our forensic providers, originally the Forensic Science Service and latterly Cellmark.

"Although Hampton has now admitted to murdering Melanie, he has spent more than 30 years living a lie, able to conceal his dark secret from all those around him.

"The breakthrough for us in this case was a re-run of familial DNA profiling in 2015.

"This process matches DNA recovered from Melanie's clothing with DNA profiles on the national database and this can indicate whether there's the possibility of a match with that person, their parents, siblings or children."

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