The ex-girlfriend of Babes in the Wood murderer Russell Bishop ‘lied on oath’ at his criminal trial, prosecutors say.
Jennifer Johnson, who had children with Bishop and lived with him in Hollingdean, Brighton at the time of the murders, is charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice in the 1987 trial.
The 55-year-old is alleged to have denied that a blue sweatshirt that finally ended up convicting Bishop thirty years later belonged to him.
Nine-year-olds Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway were found dead after they went missing while out playing in Wild Park, Brighton on October 9, 1986.
Bishop walked free after his trial the following year but was re-arrested more than three decades later following advances in DNA technology and analysis of the blue jumper which prosecutors said ‘gave up its secrets.’
The former roofer was found guilty of the sexually motivated murders at the Old Bailey in 2018.
Jennifer Johnson, under the coat, right, is seen leaving Lewes Crown Court in East Sussex on Wednesday
Jennifer Johnson (pictured outside court last year), who had children with Russel Bishop (right) and lived with him in Hollingdean, Brighton at the time of the murders, is charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice in the 1987 trial
The 55-year-old is alleged to have denied that a blue sweatshirt that finally ended up convicting Bishop thirty years later belonged to him
Giving a brief summary of the charges against Bishop’s ex-girlfriend Johnson on Thursday afternoon, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said: ‘It is alleged against her that in 1987 she told lies in a witness statement prepared for the purposes of giving evidence in a criminal trial, and it is further alleged that she then lied on oath when she gave evidence at the criminal trial.’
The jury at Lewes Crown Court heard the trial was that of her then partner and father of her children, Russell Bishop.
Bishop was first tried for the murders of schoolgirls Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows in 1987 but was acquitted.
On the anniversary of his original acquittal in 2018, the families of the two girls cheered as he was found guilty at the Old Bailey. He was sentenced to 36 years behind bars.
Now, almost 35 years after the murders, Johnson stands trial accused of lying to the jury in Bishop’s trial.
At Lewes Crown Court, a jury of seven men and five women was sworn in ahead of the expected opening of the prosecution case on Friday.
Ms Morgan told jurors that a ‘key garment’ in the investigation was a sweatshirt recovered after the attack on the schoolgirls.
The QC said: ‘Initially this defendant told the police that DE1 – that sweatshirt – belonged to Russell Bishop however in a later witness statement and then in her evidence in the trial the defendant denied stating that the garment belonged to Russell Bishop.
‘She now accepts that she lied in that witness statement and when she gave evidence on oath in the trial of Russell Bishop which took place between November and December of 1987.’
Karen Hadaway, left, and Nicola Fellows, right, were murdered by Russell Bishop in October 1986. He was acquitted of the murders the following year but was found guilty in October 2018 after new DNA evidence was discovered linking him to the crime
In the 1987 trial, Johnson told the court that she had never seen the blue sweatshirt branded with the word ‘Pinto’ before and that it was not Russell Bishop’s sweatshirt.
In the original trial Mr Justice Schiemann directed jurors to acquit Bishop if they were unsure of any one of three statements – that the girls were dead by 18:30; that Bishop had worn the blue ‘Pinto’ sweatshirt on the night they went missing; and that the ‘Pinto’ sweatshirt was worn by the murderer.
Johnson, of Brighton, East Sussex, denies the charges.
The trial continues.
Tips to Find Low Priced Luxury Holiday Package Deals Fast