Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son
The Murder of Jane Clough
Last year 26 year old nurse Jane Clough was brutally murdered by her boyfriend Jonathan Vass. This film, the first in a new series, looks at the family left behind after her death and how they’re adjusting to life without Jane, but looking to the future for her daughter and campaigning for change in the legal system. The programme also speaks to police who worked on the case and a behaviour analyst to piece together why Jane’s murderer did what he did.
Jane worked in the Accident and Emergency department of Blackpool Victoria Hospital where she had close friends among her fellow nurses. Jane met ambulance technician Jonathan Vass and early in 2008 they began a whirlwind romance. But Jane’s parents were uneasy about their relationship. Her father John says: “You can have a gut feeling about somebody and there is a gut feeling that there is something that is not quite right but you can’t put your finger on it.”
Six months into their relationship the couple moved in together and Jane announced she was pregnant. But the news brought out anger in Vass and a month after her daughter’s birth in October 2009 Jane went to the police. She told them that Jonathan Vass had raped her several times including when their baby had been in the room. John Clough says: “To say I was gutted would be an understatement. It’s any father’s worst nightmare of the worst things that could happen to your daughter.”
Jonathan Vass was arrested that day. He was remanded into custody charged with nine counts of rape and violence against Jane and suspended from work at the hospital. After his arrest it was it was claimed by the CPS that Vass was still married and may have been in a relationship with yet another woman- he had been using night shifts at work as a means of living within an elaborate web of deceit.
Despite opposition from the police and Crown prosecution service bail was granted pending trial 10 months later. Jane hid away at her parents’ house.
As the rape trial loomed, Jane decided that she would testify in the open court, rather than via video link. Criminal behavioural analyst Laura Richards explains how Vass may have been feeling at this time. She says: “His defence team get the statements that her family have made and that makes him feel very angry about what’s gone on. Here’s somebody who wants revenge [and] these are the trigger points or the tipping point for him to then go on and have murder in mind.”
Jane was beginning to get her life back and had returned to work. On Sunday the 25th July 2010 she spent the day with her daughter at her parent’s home, before preparing for a night shift at work. But on arrival at the hospital she was stabbed 71 times in a frenzied attack in the busy car park just a hundred yards from the hospital entrance.
Detective Inspector Neil Esseen was to re-trace Jane’s final moments. He says: “It’s one of the most brutal murders I’ve come across, the injuries were extremely severe and they were intended to kill.”
On hearing from the police that his daughter had been stabbed John Clough says he felt “such a mixture of horror and anger, [it’s] such a huge part of your life to lose. We’d known in our hearts that he would try to stop her getting to court but nobody really thought he would go to this measure”.
Almost twelve hours after brutally murdering Jane, Jonathan Vass pulled up outside the Clough family home where he was immediately arrested.
On October 4th 2010 Jonathan Vass pleaded guilty in court to the murder of Jane Clough. He was sentenced to life with a minimum term of thirty years. Vass denies the rape and violence charges Neil Esseen says: “In the Judge’s view he had interfered with course of justice by killing a witness in a case against him and that is an extremely serious offence and aggravated an already brutal attack.”
Penny and John feel that Jane died because she made those rape allegations, and now Vass would not face the charges Jane had so bravely pursued. Penny says: “I am so angry that Jane is dead, the fact that Vass is an un-convicted rapist haunts me.”
Earlier this year footage of Vass in prison was shown as part of the documentary series Strangeways. It showed Vass looking at a photo of Jane and saying: “I miss her but I hate her. I hate her so much.”
Watching the footage former police chief David Swindle says: “There’s no victim empathy, there’s no victim empathy for her and he wouldn’t have any victim empathy if he’s back out in the public and he’s a danger.”
John and Penny are now campaigning for a change in the bail system to try to avoid a case like Jane’s happening again. John says: “If we can make one change that will benefit another family that will be a reward.”
Friday, 5 August 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM ITV1