Wales: Young Traveller Accused of 1976 Murder May Get His Name Cleared
British media are reporting that 40 years after Noel Jones, a man of Gypsy and Traveller heritage, was convicted of murdering a 15-year-old girl in Flint, North Wales in 1976, the case has been reopened because DNA tests link another suspect to the murder. Jones was an illiterate 18-year-old when he was picked up by police and allegedly coerced into confessing to the rape and murder of Janet Commins.
The Telegraph reported on 4 July that Jones has now testified that police coerced his confession: “With it being such a small place they just wanted somebody and I happened to fit the bill at the time. I was like a scapegoat.”
He reportedly was told what to say by authorities and did not understand what documents he was signing due to his inability to read or write properly. He was given a 12-year sentence, of which he served six years in prison.
In jail, Jones was beaten and bullied. Members of his Traveller community also ostracised him.
He has maintained his innocence ever since, and DNA evidence now seems to have identified a more likely suspect. “In 2006, a review of the scientific evidence in the case was carried out and DNA from a man was identified from samples taken from Janet's body. In 2016, [Stephen] Hough's DNA was taken by police in an unrelated matter and a match was found, prompting his arrest,” reported BBC News.
Hough was arrested last September. His grandparents’ house overlooked the area where Commins’ body was hidden.
Though he was questioned at the time of the murder, the BBC reported that the then 17-year-old had “said he was stealing petrol from a vehicle in Flint that night and was subsequently fined for the offence.” Now with the new DNA evidence, Jones may have his name cleared and justice may be served.
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