After Christopher Hampton got a life sentence for murdering Melanie Road, 17, her mum Jean said: “I always wanted to stick a knife in him… He is a monster who should be left in a dungeon to rot”
A killer rapist has finally faced justice for a crime from 1984 after police took DNA from his daughter.
The mother of tragic Melanie Road finally came face to face with her daughter’s killer in court.
Jean Road, 81, branded murderer Christopher Hampton a “monster” who should be left to rot in a dungeon as he was jailed for at least 22 years.
The dad-of-four escaped arrest and lived a respectable life for three decades after knifing 17-year-old Melanie to death in a sexually motivated attack.
Jean told how she feared she would die before her daughter’s killer was brought to justice.
She said: “I never did think they would find him. He is not a man, he’s a monster.
“I always said if I got hold of him I would strangle him or stick a knife into him. I wouldn’t even use my energy up on him. I feel like he should be shut up in a dungeon like they used to do in the olden days and just left to rot because he’s not worth looking after.
“I know that’s against the law but I can think that – I’m allowed to think that.”
She also told how the teenager’s death hastened her husband Anthony’s decline into a “haze of dementia”.
Twice-married Hampton, 64, had been due to stand trial at Bristol crown court yesterday but finally admitted murder on the first day.
Aged 32 at the time of the crime, he stabbed A-level student Melanie 26 times as she walked home from a nightclub in Bath, Somerset, in 1984.
He then stripped and sexually assaulted her before abandoning her in a pool of blood yards from her home.
Melanie’s body was discovered the following morning by a horrified milkman and his 10-year-old son.
Forensic tests at the crime scene found a blood type with proteins that match 3% of the population.
Police launched Operation Rhodium in 1984 and 94 people were arrested – not including Hampton – but none were charged.
After DNA became part of regular police work in 1995, a profile of the killer was created and put on the national database.
In 2000 a more detailed profile was obtained and police started looking for potential family matches to the murderer. By 2010 hundreds of potential matches had been traced but the killer remained at large.
Hampton’s downfall began in 2014 when police were called to a row between daughter Clare, 44, and her boyfriend.
She was given a caution for criminal damage after breaking his necklace during the row and gave a routine swab.
Last year cold case detectives ran a check of the DNA database to take in the one million people added over the previous five years.
That is when they got a match with Clare. She put police in touch with Hampton and he gave a sample matching semen taken from Melanie’s body.
The killer formally denied murder but refused to speak to police or even his own legal team.
When he was arrested and his wife said to him, “I’ll see you later”, Hampton replied: “No you won’t”. Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Popplewell told him: “Melanie was a happy, outgoing, social girl, who at the time of her death was about to take her A-levels. It was a life full of promise. The effect of Melanie’s death on her family was devastating and enduring.
“Every day for 32 years they have been suffering the agony of losing Melanie in such horrific circumstances.
“You lived your family life for all those years knowing the extreme misery you must have inflicted on your victim’s family. You were too callous and cowardly to put an end to their heartache. You will very likely die in prison.”
In the hours before her murder, Melanie had been on a night out with friends and boyfriend Michael.
The group left a nightclub at about 1.30am with Melanie setting off alone towards her family home.
Her route took her past Broad Street in Bath, where Hampton, then a father-of-three, lived with his girlfriend.
As well as repeatedly stabbing her, Hampton twice raped Melanie.
The judge told him: “It was a lengthy and brutal attack. 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.”
Heartbroken Jean will never forget the last words Melanie said to her as she dropped her off outside the Francis Hotel in Bath. She said: “Melanie got out of the car and she said, ‘Look, there’s a red carpet laid out for me. What a way to go’.
“They were her last words. And that is there all the time for me. She was so happy.”
When her body was found, police retrieved a key ring with the name Melanie from her pocket and used a loud-hailer to find her family.
Jean was already frantic with worry after realising her daughter had not come home. She recalled: “I heard the loudspeaker, calling out ‘Melanie’. “My husband and I just looked at each other. I ran to the window and there was a police officer’s car going past and he was calling out, ‘Melanie’. That’s all I heard.
“Then I opened the front door and ran after the car, banging on the boot at the back, ‘Please stop, please stop’.
“I said, ‘We have a daughter, Melanie, and she hasn’t come home’.
“I got into the car and he took me back to the house. That’s when all hell let loose and I knew my daughter was never coming back again. My whole life was taken over by this horrible deed.
“Melanie did not deserve that.
“We miss Melanie in our lives and to never see her again hurts beyond repair.” Melanie’s sister Karen Road said in a victim impact statement: “I could tell you that it’s like being in a nightmare, but you wake from a nightmare, and life returns to normal. This is a nightmare I can’t ever wake up from.”
Brother Adrian added in his statement: “Her life was snuffed out, and my life was changed forever.” Adrian said he has spent the past 31 years walking down the street, seeing men and thinking: “Did you kill my sister?”
The killer has never apologised or shown remorse for his actions.
Gary Mason, a retired officer who returned to the cold-case team, took Hampton’s DNA swab.
He said: “For a person who knew it was his DNA he remained extremely calm and showed no emotion at all.”
Det Chief Insp Julie Mackay added: “We had this hypothesis that he had to be in the system somewhere.
“But he wasn’t. He was just a normal person, living a normal life.
“He was never caught for a crime before, and never after.”
Police do not suspect Hampton of involvement in any other unsolved cases.