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Convicted paedophile claims he was ‘bullied’ into giving false account to police

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A convicted paedophile has denied murdering two nine-year-old girls, saying he was “bullied” into making a false account by “nasty” police.

Russell Bishop, 52, is on trial for the second time over the deaths of Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway.

The girls were sexually assaulted and strangled in a den in Wild Park, Brighton, in October 1986.

Bishop, a former roofer, was cleared of their murders in 1987.

But within three years he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the kidnap, sexual assault and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl at Devil’s Dyke on the South Downs.

He was ordered to stand trial at the Old Bailey for the killings of Nicola and Karen in light of new forensic evidence linking him to the girls.

Russell Bishop is facing trial for the second time over the murders. Pic: Sussex Police
Image:
Russell Bishop is facing trial for the second time over the murders. Pic: Sussex Police

Giving evidence, Bishop said he feared he would be blamed when he joined the search to find the girls on 10 October 1986.

He told jurors: “There was a few things that led to that kind of thinking.

“A couple of years before this I was wrongfully arrested for the Grand Hotel bombing in Brighton.”

The court also heard how Bishop’s father was wrongly arrested over the unsolved murder of local woman Margaret Frame who was buried in a shallow grave.

Bishop said his “old man” had even warned him “don’t get involved” before he set off to join the search.

When two 18-year-olds found the girls’ bodies, Bishop said he was told to keep people away from the scene in Wild Park.

He said: “The young man sitting down said he did not know whether they were asleep or dead.

“I went straight to the victims, felt for a pulse, neck on Nicola and Karen on the right arm.”

Bishop told jurors he felt “shocked, totally sickened”.

A memorial tree stands in Wild Park where the girls' bodies were found
Image:
A memorial tree stands in Wild Park where the girls’ bodies were found

He later changed his account to fit what the teenagers had said during a 13-hour long police interview without a solicitor.

“I started getting all frustrated, confused, tied up in knots,” Bishop said.

He claimed officers showed him pictures of the dead girls and the area where they were found.

Joel Bennathan QC, defending, said: “By the end of this process you signed a witness statement that said you did not take the pulse of the girls.”

Bishop said he told officers “what they wanted to hear”.

“It was obvious they were not going to believe me over what those two boys were saying,” he said.

“I was being called a liar. They had been downright nasty. I was being kept a prisoner.

“I was having two police officers bullying and totally destroying me in that room.

“I’m dyslexic and I could not read or write. I had poor problem-solving skills. It was the only way I was going to get out of there.”

Bishop appeared emotional as he told jurors he did not kill the girls and did not know who did.

Russell Bishop pictured in about 1988 after he was acquitted of the murders of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows
Image:
Russell Bishop pictured in about 1988

He admitted to seeing the girls from a distance in Wild Park on the day of their disappearance, but made a stop-off on the way home for a “small amount of cannabis”.

Police called to his house at 2.30am asking if he could help with the missing girls.

Bishop earlier said he felt “deeply ashamed” for abducting a younger girl in 1990, adding that he was “in a bad state” after his first murder trial.

He told how he nearly threw himself and his children off Beachy Head as he struggled to cope with the fallout.

He said: “I drove to Beachy Head. I had my children with me, ending my life and my children’s life. I just could not bear it all.”

Bishop denies two counts of murder. The trial continues.

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