Russell Bishop guilty of murdering two nine-year-old girls in 'double jeopardy' trial

|News, Violent crime

In a landmark case, a man has been convicted of killing two young girls in Brighton having previously been acquitted of their murders more than 30 years ago.

Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway, both aged nine, went missing on the evening of Thursday 9 October 1986. Their bodies were found in a secluded spot in woods near their home the following afternoon.

Russell BishopRussell Bishop, 52, was acquitted of their murders at trial in 1987. However, following a new investigation by Sussex Police and the obtaining of new forensic evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service made a successful application to the Court of Appeal to quash the acquittal of Bishop under the ‘double jeopardy’ law introduced in 2003. To do this, the CPS had to prove to the court that there was new and compelling evidence in the case.

The Court of Appeal ordered a retrial in December 2017 and Bishop was convicted following a trial at the Old Bailey which concluded today (10 December). Along with the new forensic evidence, the prosecution also presented details of the defendant’s movements at the time of the killings, the lies he told police and others, together with his subsequent conviction for a similar attack in 1990, in which a seven-year-old girl was kidnapped and left for dead in Brighton.

Nigel Pilkington, from the CPS, said: “Today’s guilty verdicts mark the end of a 32-year fight for justice for the families of Karen and Nicola.

“In order to bring Russell Bishop to justice, the CPS demonstrated to the Court of Appeal there was new and compelling evidence against him in the form of forensic material.

“The prosecution then showed the jury how Bishop attempted to conceal his crimes through his lies and, crucially, modern forensic science. This included DNA evidence which provided a one-in-a-billion DNA match to a sweatshirt Bishop was wearing and which was at the scene of the murders.

“Our thoughts today are with Karen and Nicola’s families, who have shown remarkable resilience throughout this ordeal over the last 32 years.”

Notes to editors

  • Nigel Pilkington is a Senior District Crown Prosecutor in CPS South East

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