Caught by his own daughter, killer pleads guilty in 32-year-old cold case after DNA breakthrough

Melanie Road was murdered in Bath 32 years ago.
Melanie Road was murdered in Bath 32 years ago.

A father-of-four has been jailed for life after the chance arrest of his daughter over a trivial matter resulted in him being linked to the brutal unsolved rape and murder of a teenage girl more than 30-years ago.

Christopher Hampton, 67, a painter and decorator, was told he will likely die in prison, after pleading guilty to killing 17-year-old A level student, Melanie Road in June 1984.

Melanie had been walking home from a nightclub following an evening out with friends, when she was attacked just metres from her home in Bath.

She was subjected to a "lengthy and brutal" sexual assault before being stabbed 26 times in her chest and back.

Melanie's 81-year-old mother, Jean Road, feared she would go to her grave without ever seeing justice, but Hampton was finally caught last year when his eldest daughter Clare, 44, was arrested following a row with her boyfriend in which she snapped his necklace and received a caution for criminal damage.

Having provided a routine DNA sample to police it was checked against the national database and a familial match made to sample stored from the 1984 murder scene.

Hampton was then asked to provide a DNA swab and a match was made to a semen stain found on the crotch of Melanie's trousers.

Christopher Hampton.
Christopher Hampton.

After he was charged with the murder, Avon and Somerset Police, began investigating to see if Hampton might be involved in string of unsolved murders both locally and nationally.

Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mackay who led the investigation into the Road murder, said: "We looked to see if he was responsible for any other offences ... I'm not a psychologist, but there is nothing to suggest he has done anything else."

At the time of the rape and murder, Hampton had been living with a girlfriend, having separated from his first wife, Pauline, with whom he had three children.

Five years after the killing he married his second wife, Julie, and the couple had a daughter.

They lived in an end of terrace house in the Fishponds area of Bristol, where neighbours described their shock after learning that the "friendly, helpful" man who had lived amongst them was actually a brutal rapist and killer.

One described how he even helped her rescue her kitten from a tree.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: "He seemed like a perfectly nice man. I would never have suspected for a minute that he could have been responsible for something like that.

"I remember last year opening the door and seeing a swarm of police cars outside and him being taken away in handcuffs."

Melanie's mother, sister, Karen, and brother, Adrian, were all in court to see Hampton admit the killing which they said had haunted their lives for the past 32-years.

Sadly her elderly father, Anthony, now suffers from dementia.

Jailing him for life with a minimum term of 22-years Justice Popplewell said Hampton would probably die in prison.

He said: "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."

Melanie's mutilated body was found just 200m from her front door by a milkman and his son at 5.30am.

With nothing to identify the body other than a keyring with the name Melanie, police used a loud hailer to shout her name in the street.

The teenager's parents, realising that their daughter had not returned home, raced from the house to see what was happening to be greeted with the terrible news.

Melanie's surviving relatives 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."

MacKay said diligent policing in 1984 was "key" to solving the case.

She said Hampton has never apologised or shown remorse for his actions.

"He is a family man who lived a normal life with his family afterwards," the senior investigating officer said.

"He has never admitted this to his family. I don't know anything about him - he has never spoken to us."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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