Sunday, 16 October 2011


A man who stabbed his ex-partner to death while on bail charged with raping her has been given a life sentence of imprisonment at Preston Crown Court in October 2010.

Ambulance technician and former bouncer Jonathan Vass, 30, was given a minimum 30-year term for the murder of nurse Jane Clough, 26, the mother of his baby daughter.

He had been due to stand trial on nine rape charges and murdered her to stop her giving evidence against him.

Judge Anthony Russell QC handed down a mandatory life sentence before telling Vass, that he would not be eligible for release until 2040.

Jane Clough was found with multiple stab wounds outside Blackpool Victoria hospital on Sunday 25 July 2010. She died after being taken to the accident and emergency department where she worked.

Her parents and family wept and hugged each other as the court heard for the first time that after stabbing and slashing her with a 7.6cm blade Vass walked away momentarily, then went back to slit her throat.

"As she lay bleeding you walked away but then returned and slowly, deliberately and cold-bloodedly slit her throat," Judge Russell said as he passed sentence.It is difficult to imagine a more horrific crime

than this murder. Furthermore it was a crime motivated by real hatred and revenge.

"This was a deliberate, brutal and callous murder for which you have shown no remorse and no care for your own daughter.

"Jane Clough was a nurse who devoted her life to the care of others. She had the misfortune to become involved with you.

"She bore your child and then you murdered her, leaving your infant child without a mother and with the prospect of growing up to learn one day that her father murdered her mother."

The court heard that Clough had kept a diary detailing her abuse and fears of Vass and what he might do. She and her family had been "rocked and devastated" when he was bailed on the rape charges, leaving her "extremely concerned for her safety".

She left home to live with her parents and recorded in her diary that she was worried "Johnny was going to do something stupid".

Another entry read of fears he would "get his revenge", adding: "What's he going to do?"

Dennis Watson QC, prosecuting, said it was clear the motive for the murder was to prevent Clough giving evidence.

Watson said the couple had met while both working at the hospital but their relationship was troubled because of Vass. "He was a jealous man who wished to dominate and have complete control over Jane despite the fact that, unknown to her, he was carrying on a relationship with two other women at the same time,"

In November that year she reported him to police, complaining to officers of months of physical and sexual abuse and repeated rapes that continued when she was heavily pregnant.

Text messages between the pair were read out. She sent him a message saying: "You have hurt, raped and reduced me to tears on countless occasions ... and you want to get engaged and have more kids? Why?"
He replied: "We are staying together regardless of our problems."

Another said: "You physically and sexually abuse me. You threatened to kill me the other night."

Among Vass's replies was: "Please can I come home ... best behaviour promise."

He was charged with nine rapes and assault in November 2009 and told a work colleague, a former boyfriend of Jane Clough, that if he was found guilty he would kill her. The friend dismissed the threat as bravado.

When it became clear she was prepared to give evidence in court Vass decided to act, the court heard.

Detective Superintendent Neil Esseen, who led the inquiry, said: "There is no doubt in my mind that he committed this brutal murder to prevent this brave young woman from having her day in court. Clough was a new mum who had everything to live for. She enjoyed her job at the hospital and had many friends there, but she was cruelly taken away from those who loved her by Jonathan Vass in the most violent of circumstances."