Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Father-of-four jailed over 1984 murder of Melanie Road

Published 09/05/2016

A father-of-four who raped and murdered a teenage girl in a "lengthy and brutal" attack 32 years ago has been jailed for at least 22 years.

Christopher Hampton, 67, only finally admitted murdering Melanie Road, 17, in court after he was charged following a DNA breakthrough.

Police caught the painter and decorator after his eldest daughter was arrested following a minor domestic incident with her partner in 2014.

She received a caution and her DNA was put on the national database - with a familial match later discovered using samples taken from the 1984 crime scene.

Hampton gave a voluntary mouth swab in June 2015, which matched DNA from semen staining on Melanie's trousers.

He initially denied any involvement but changed his plea to guilty at Bristol Crown Court on the day of his trial.

The murderer had lived a normal life since 1984, marrying his second wife and having his fourth child with her.

Mr Justice Popplewell jailed Hampton for life with a minimum term of 22 years, telling him: "You will very likely die in prison."

The judge added: "Only you 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 4in wounds.

"You first stabbed her when she was on her feet in the street on her route home, before chasing her or taking her some 30 metres round the corner to the cul-de-sac, where she ultimately died."

Melanie had been on a night out in Bath with her friends and her boyfriend Michael in the hours leading up to her murder.

They left a nightclub at about 1.30am, with Melanie setting off alone to her family home in St Stephen's Close.

Her route took her past Broad Street, where Hampton, then a father-of-three, lived with his girlfriend.

Witnesses heard screams, a man bellowing, loud wailing and howling at about 2am that morning.

A milkman found Melanie's body on St Stephen's Court - just 200 metres from her home - at 5.30am.

She had died from haemorrhaging as a result of 26 stab wounds, eight of which were to her breasts.

Hampton had twice raped Melanie, one of these incidents taking place around the time of her death, before partially redressing her.

Officers took swabs at the murder scene from 71 blood spots, Melanie's body and her clothing.

DNA analysis was not available in 1984 but Avon and Somerset Police kept the evidence for more than three decades.

A DNA profile of Melanie's murderer, extracted from semen at the scene, was loaded onto the national database in the 1990s.

Police identified a familial match after Hampton's daughter was arrested in 2014, leading officers to Hampton 31 years after the murder.

Hampton denied the offence and scientific work continued for his trial before he indicated his guilt to solicitors in April.

"The number of samples from the scene which were found to match your DNA became so numerous that the case against you was overwhelming," the judge said.

"You 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 it."

Hampton, dressed in a black suit and shirt, remained emotionless throughout the hearing in court room one, which lasted for an hour and 20 minutes.

The judge said Hampton would have faced a minimum term of 32 years if the murder had been committed after the Criminal Justice Act of 2003.

"I am satisfied that had you been sentenced for this murder shortly after you committed it, the Secretary of State would have notified a minimum term of not less than 24 years following a trial," he said.

Hampton has never apologised or shown remorse for the murder.

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Julie MacKay of Avon and Somerset Police said officers from the 1984 investigation had been kept informed of the case.

She was contacted by the widow of the senior investigating officer at the time, who said he had died regretting Melanie's murder remained unsolved.

"That's why I am so proud to be standing here as the SIO who brought him to justice," she said.

"If in 1984 they hadn't swabbed every one of those 71 blood spots, if they hadn't meticulously examined everything that was available to them from Melanie's clothing and her body, we would not have had that DNA available to us."

Avon and Somerset Police have found no evidence linking Hampton to any other crime.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph