The police detective who finally cracked the 30-year-old mystery of Melanie Road’s murder has told of the chilling last words killer Christopher Hampton said to his wife as he police led him away.
The 17-year-old Bath girl was sexually assaulted and savagely stabbed to death after a night out with friends in 1984.
There were 26 separate knife wounds on Melanie’s body – most of them clustered on the right side of her body, leading police to deduce that her killer was left-handed.
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But the forensic science of the mid-1980s could only stretch so far, and the trail soon went cold.
Murder Christopher Hampton evaded justice for over 30 years, but was eventually traced when his daughter was arrested with in connection with a domestic dispute in which she broke her then-boyfriend’s necklace.
Her DNA was added to a police database as a matter of routine – and that immediately flashed up a connection with a full DNA profile the police had of Melanie's murderer.
But 31 years after Melanie’s murder, DNA profiling had advanced significantly and the family connection led police to Hampton’s door.
Hampton, then aged 63, was arrested on suspicion of murder on July 3, 2015.
On July 2, 2015, police arrested him. Detective Sergeant Julie Mackay later recalled the moment when officers led the suspect out of the house.
Hampton’s wife said: “I’ll see you later,” and the killer emotionlessly turned to her and said: “No you won’t.”
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The following May, Hampton appeared in court at the beginning what was expected to be a lengthy jury trial.
But the Bristol father of four shocked the courtroom when he calmly responded to the charge being read out with one word: “Guilty”.
Sentencing Hampton to life imprisonment with a minimum of 22 years behind bars, Mr Justice Popplewell 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 – 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."
The judge added: "You will very likely die in prison."
Avon & Somerset Police Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: "Solving the murder of Melanie Road has meant so much not just to Melanie's family, but to the wider community as well as the policing community.
"In the end it was the advancements in forensic DNA technology as well as the determination, commitment and hard work of our officers that solved the case."
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