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Russell Bishop: Paedophile guilty of 1986 Babes in Wood murders

Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola FellowsImage copyright PA
Image caption Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows had gone out to play after school

A convicted paedophile has been found guilty of murdering two schoolgirls who were found strangled and sexually assaulted near Brighton 32 years ago.

Russell Bishop, 52, had protested his innocence since the bodies of Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway were found.

Cleared of their murders in 1987, Bishop went on to attack a seven-year-old girl within three years, leaving her for dead in 1990, but she survived.

He was convicted of the double murder in a second trial at the Old Bailey.

After the girls were found dead, the case became known as the Babes in the Wood.

The guilty verdicts came exactly 31 years to the day of Bishop’s original acquittal in 1987.

Families of the girls wept in court earlier as the jury delivered the verdicts after two-and-a-half hours.

Afterwards, Karen’s mother Michelle Hadaway described Bishop as an “evil monster”.

“We finally have justice for Karen and Nicola,” she said.

“Time stood still for us in 1986. To us, them beautiful girls will always be nine years old. They will never grow up.”

The Fellows family said that while the verdicts did not bring the girls back, other children were now safe from Bishop.

They added: “He is a monster. A predatory paedophile. Russell Bishop truly is evil personified.”

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Russell Bishop was cleared of murdering Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway after a trial in 1987

The two girls, aged nine, who were scared of the dark, went missing from their homes after they had gone out to play on 9 October 1986.

They were found in Wild Park the next day, lying together in a woodland den as if they were sleeping, but they had been killed by former roofer Bishop.

During the trial, jurors heard Nicola’s father had banned her from playing in Wild Park, even saying the “bogeyman” lived there.

Judge Mr Justice Sweeney said Bishop will be sentenced on Tuesday, and must be present at the hearing.

Bishop had chosen to give evidence in his defence, but not to return during cross-examination, and then did not attend for the rest of the trial.

After Bishop was convicted, Nigel Pilkington, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said the verdicts marked the end of a long fight for justice by the families, praising their “remarkable resilience”.

He described Bishop as an “extremely dangerous” man who had been convicted on “overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence”.

“He is a violent predatory paedophile and he gets cross when you call him that,” he said.

Mr Pilkington also said Bishop had tried to blame Nicola’s father to create the “most havoc” possible, adding: “There is not a shred of evidence against Barrie Fellows.”

Det Supt Jeff Riley called Bishop a “wicked” paedophile and said Sussex Police had “never given up on this investigation”.

He added: “I still feel it’s a shadow over Brighton to this day.”

The case is believed to be the oldest double jeopardy case and Sussex Police’s longest-running murder inquiry.

Image copyright Sussex Police/PA
Image caption The girls’ bodies were found in a woodland den in Wild Park near Brighton

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