New DNA proves man killed two schoolgirls 31 years after jury cleared him of murder
A convicted sex predator is on trial for molesting and strangling two schoolgirls 32 years ago – for the second time.
Nicola Fellow and Karen Hadaway, both nine, went missing while playing outside near their home in Brighton, East Sussex, on October 9, 1986.
Their bodies were found by police the next day in Wild Park, on the South Downs, about half a mile from their homes.
Local roofer Russell Bishop, then aged 20, was charged with their murders at the time but was later cleared after a trial at Lewes Crown Court in 1987.
Today, the 52-year-old stands accused of the 1986 murders for the second time.
Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the Old Bailey that Bishops earlier acquittal was quashed at the Court of Appeal in light of new evidence following advances in DNA testing.
Thirty-two years ago, almost to the day, on Friday October 10 1986, two nine-year-old girls, Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway, were found dead in the woods at Wild Park in Brighton, Mr Altman told the Old Bailey.
Both had gone missing the evening before, Thursday October 9 1986, and, despite searches by police and public, they were not to be found until the following afternoon.
That grim discovery led to the largest and longest-running police inquiry Sussex Police has ever known.
The killings were entirely intentional and they were carried out in the woods by a man who sexually assaulted them for his own gratification.
That man, say the prosecution, was this defendant, Russell Bishop.
Evidence of the re-evaluation of the science available at the time of the original trial and new science, we suggest, proves that Russell Bishop was, to the exclusion of anyone else, responsible for the murders of the two little girls.
He went on to tell the court that the motive for the murders was sexual and paedophilic.
Within three years of his acquittal in 1987, Bishop kidnapped, indecently assaulted and tried to kill a seven-year-old girl in Brighton.
The girl was able to identify her attacker and he was jailed following another Lewes trial in 1990.
Today, the jury were told that similarities between the 1990 attack and the 1986 killings, together with other compelling and powerful evidence, all signal to Bishop being responsible.
The case against Bishop rests on his movements, actions and things he said to police, including significant lies he told at the time, as well as the DNA evidence, jurors heard.
Among the evidence is a blue sweatshirt found during the search for the children.
The court heard how forensic experts have now linked the clothing item to Bishop and his home environment as well as the two victims due to advancements in technology.
The jury will also visit Wild Park and be shown the secluded den in which the girls were sexually assaulted and killed.
Some of the witnesses in the case are now either dead or too ill to give evidence and their accounts will also be read out to jurors.
On the day of their disappearance, the girls, who lived in the same street in Moulsecoomb, had gone out to play after school.
Nicola was a very friendly girl and the the stronger of the pair, while Karen was a very sensible girl who could be cheeky, their mothers had stated.
Both the girls were afraid of the dark, Mr Altman said.
Relatives of both victims packed the court for the opening of the trial.
Karens mother Michelle, 61, clutched the hands of her daughters Lyndsey, 37, and Kimberley, 31.
At the time of the killings, Bishop was living a mile and a half away with his partner, young son and terrier cross-breed Misty.
He was also in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl called Marion Stevenson, a reason why neither of the girls parents wanted their daughters to be around the couple.
Bishop denies two charges of murder and the trial continues.