North East Wales

Janet Commins 'died quickly during 1976 Flint sex attack'

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

A teenager found dead in Flintshire in 1976 was killed quickly while being sexually assaulted, a court has heard.

Stephen Hough, 58, is on trial at Mold Crown Court for the rape and murder of 15-year-old Janet Commins in Flint.

Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers said he thought Janet died "of the effects of restraint".

The late Dr Reuben Woodcock, who conducted the post mortem examination in 1976, concluded she suffocated, probably while being sexually attacked.

He said internal pinpoint haemorrhages were due to asphyxia and a lack of severe injuries to her body suggested she had not struggled violently.

Consultant forensic Home Office pathologist Dr Rodgers agreed with Dr Woodcock's conclusion that Janet's body had probably been dragged to the location where it was found.

Image copyright Andrew Price
Image caption Stephen Hough (r) denies all the charges against him

But he said he could not agree that internal petechial haemorrhages - tiny spots of blood - meant she was definitely asphyxiated.

He said these were also found when people were suffocated and if a person had been strangled, he would have expected to see similar haemorrhages on their face.

"I don't know whether they were there and not noticed or whether they were not there," he said.

Asked his opinion on the cause of death, he replied: "I think it's a combination of things. I think this girl has essentially died of the effects of restraint.

"In situations of high physical stress... if you are in a face-down position... it compromises your breathing."

Cross-examined by Patrick Harrington QC for the defence, Dr Rodgers agreed the evidence suggested Janet probably died quickly.

Mr Hough also denies sexual assault and manslaughter and the trial continues.

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