Lancashire

Judge who bailed rape accused 'blamed' for nurse murder

Jane Clough
Image caption Jane Clough suffered multiple stab wounds in the attack outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital

The parents of a nurse killed by her ex-boyfriend while he was on bail for alleged rape have called for the judge who freed him to be investigated.

Jane Clough was stabbed 71 times by Jonathan Vass, 30, months after he was charged with raping her nine times.

John and Penny Clough said Judge Simon Newell could have prevented her death if he had remanded Vass in custody.

The Judicial Communications Office (JCO) said the judge had worked within the framework of the Bail Act 1976.

Last month, Vass, of Conway Drive, Preston, admitted murdering Ms Clough in the car park of Blackpool Victoria Hospital on 25 July.

The judge presiding over that case - Judge Anthony Russell QC - jailed him for life with a minimum term of 30 years.

'Get his revenge'

Mr and Mrs Clough said on BBC Radio 5 live's Victoria Derbyshire programme that Judge Newell had "ignored" police and prosecution objections to Vass' bail.

"Judge Newell is responsible for our daughter's death," Mrs Clough said.

"He had the power as a judge to remand Vass in custody and keep Jane safe.

"We can't afford as a society to let other women be in a position of risk by people who are free on bail."

Vass - a former ambulance technician - was accused of raping Ms Clough when she was heavily pregnant with their child.

The nurse kept a diary chronicling her fears that Vass would attack her.

"I'm worried John is going to do something stupid like try and find me," she wrote.

"Time's running out for him. I think he's been relying on me dropping charges and will now be realising that I'm not going to and couldn't now even if I want to.

"What plan is he hatching? I don't believe he will just sit back and let a jury find him guilty.

"He's not going to let them send him back to prison and I can't help thinking he will get his revenge on me."

Mrs Clough said when she first read the diary: "We saw her fear, as parents. It sort of brought it all back, what she'd gone through."

'Previous good character'

In a statement, the JCO said: "Judge Newell has expressed his sympathy for the family of Ms Clough and recognises the pain felt by relatives when those who have been bailed go on to commit serious offences.

"Whether or not to grant bail is a decision of the courts to make within the statutory framework provided by Parliament in the Bail Act 1976.

"The Bail Act provides for a general presumption that bail shall be granted in all cases, except in specific circumstances.

"In this case, at no stage was the judge told of any concerns expressed by Ms Clough in relation to her safety, nor was there any evidence presented to the court that Mr Vass was likely to commit further offences against her.

"Mr Vass was a paramedic of previous good character."

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