Babes in Wood victims’ mums say killer put them through 32-year ‘living death’
Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop cheated justice for 32 years, but the parents of his innocent young victims saw the predatory paedophile caged at last.
The fiend, 52, was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering pals Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows, both nine, at Brighton’s Wild Park in 1986.
Members of the tragic girls’ families wept and hugged each other in the Old Bailey as a jury convicted him on the 31st anniversary of his original acquittal.
He had faced a fresh trial after the change in double jeopardy law following a DNA breakthrough.
Karen’s mum, Michelle Hadaway, added: “After 32 years of fighting, we finally have justice for Karen and Nicola.
“Time stood still for us in 1986. To us them beautiful girls will always be nine years old.
"They will never grow up. What people like Bishop inflict on the families of their victims is a living death.”
The Fellows family said: “The verdict doesn’t bring Nicola and Karen back but we know other children are now safe from the hands of Russell Bishop.
"He is a monster. A predatory paedophile. Russell Bishop truly is evil personified.”
Sentencing was adjourned to Tuesday and Bishop is now likely to die in jail.
The former Brighton roofer was originally cleared in a 1987 trial marred by police and prosecution blunders.
Just three years later, Bishop went on to kidnap and molest a girl of seven before leaving her for dead.
A source said her family were told at the time evidence in the previous double murder case had been mishandled.
They added: “The family think if that hadn’t happened, there was the possibility she would not have had to go through the ordeal.
“Every time his name or the other murders is mentioned it brings it back.”
Bishop was serving life for the attempted murder when he was ordered to face a new trial over Karen and Nicola.
The two girls, who were scared of the dark, went missing from their homes around dusk after they had gone out to play on October 9, 1986.
They were found the next day, lying together in a woodland den as if they were sleeping.
Warped Bishop had earlier joined a search for the pair, claiming his dog was a trained tracker.
After the bodies were found, he gave conflicting accounts to police and gave fake alibis.
Acting on Bishop’s instructions in his second trial, his defence team tried to cast suspicion on Nicola’s father Barrie – suggesting police had spent 32 years probing the wrong man.
During the two-month trial, the 69-year-old was reduced to tears over their claims.
While Bishop refused to attend court for the verdict, Mrs Hadaway, 61, and Nicola’s mum Susan Eismann, 69, sat through harrowing evidence a second time. Karen’s father Lee died without seeing justice done.
Nigel Pilkington, of Crown Prosecution Service South East, said Bishop was an “extremely dangerous man” convicted on “overwhelming and incontrovertible” evidence.
Detective Superintendent Jeff Riley of Sussex Police added: “This is a moment to remember the two girls that died at the hands of a predatory and vicious killer that refused for 32 years to face up to what he did and still does. I hope the families can find some peace.”
The girl Bishop attacked in 1990 is now 36 and still needs police support.
The beast was waiting with the boot of a stolen Cortina open as she passed on the street and bundled her in, hissing: “Scream and I’ll kill you.”
He drove her 14 miles to Devil’s Dyke on the South Downs, where he choked her then sexually assaulted her. Thinking her dead, he threw her naked body into dense gorse bushes.
She gave a description of Bishop and picked him out in a line-up, then gave evidence at his trial.
He got life with a minimum 14 years for kidnap, sexual assault and attempted murder.
At the time, a woman on the jury that acquitted him in 1987 told how she broke down when she heard of the conviction.
“There hasn’t been a week I haven’t though about the two little girls who were killed,” she said.
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