North East Wales

Janet Commins: Schoolgirl murder detective quizzed

Stephen Hough Image copyright Andrew Price
Image caption Stephen Hough (r) is on trial for killing Janet Commins, but another man has already served a sentence for her manslaughter

A detective who helped investigate how a Flint schoolgirl was killed in 1976 has denied putting a man jailed under pressure.

Noel Jones served 12 years for the manslaughter of 15-year-old Janet Commins.

But he told a fresh murder trial at Mold Crown Court that he was not responsible - and a confession was made up by police.

Stephen Hough, 58, denies rape, sexual assault, murder and manslaughter

On Tuesday, the jury heard evidence from retired police officer Albert Roberts, who left the north Wales force in 1981.

In 1976, he was a detective inspector who interviewed the chief suspect Jones.

In one interview, Mr Roberts told Jones: "You told us a number of things which only the person that was with Janet at the time...would be able to say. How can you explain that?".

The court heard Jones replied it "must have been in the papers" - despite later agreeing that he could only read "a little".

The jury was told that Jones later walked police through a reconstruction, describing where and how the attack took place.

Image copyright North Wales Police
Image caption Janet Commins' body was found on a school field by children playing hide and seek

But under cross-examination by the prosecution, the former detective rejected claims made by Jones that he put the suspect under pressure.

He said that was "absolute nonsense".

Asked if he bombarded Jones with questions, Mr Roberts said: "He seemed all right to me. He seemed to be answering them all right without any difficulty."

The questioning followed defence evidence on Monday from Mr Hough, who was arrested in 2016 after DNA matching his was found on the dead schoolgirl's body.

But he told the jury he could not explain the DNA findings, and also denied once telling his ex-wife that he had killed someone.

Asked by his barrister, Patrick Harrington QC: "Did you have anything to do with her death?"

"No sir," he replied.

The trial is continuing.

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