United Kingdom

Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop's partner 'was part of Team Bishop', perjury trial hears

The partner of convicted child killer Russell Bishop was so besotted with him that she lied under oath in a desperate bid to keep the paedophile out of prison at the first Babes in the Wood trial, a jury was told.

Bishop murdered nine-year-old friends Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in Brighton in a 1986 case which became known as the Babes in the Wood.

Mother-of-four Jennifer Johnson, 55, admits she lied under oath at his first trial in 1987, where he was left free to murder a seven-year-old girl in 1990.  

Jennifer Johnson, Russell Bishop's girlfriend, pictured leaving Brighton Magistrates Court

Bishop (right) murdered Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway, both nine, in Wild Park, Brighton in 1986 but was freed a year later after Johnson (left) lied for him 

Bishop was serving a life sentence for the second attack when he was finally convicted of the Babes in the Wood murders after a double jeopardy retrial in 2018. 

New DNA techniques linked him to the murder through a blue sweatshirt.  

Johnson denies committing perjury and perverting the course of justice, and has told the court she was terrified into lying by Bishop and his family.

But prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told jurors that Johnson was 'part of Team Bishop, not a victim of it', and added: 'Nobody has a gun to her head.'

The jury have been told Johnson admits changing her story in the witness box after telling police a sweatshirt which linked Bishop to the murders was his.

Nicola Fellows and her friend Karen Hadaway, both aged nine, were found murdered in Brighton's Wild Park in 1986

Pictured: A blue Pinto sweatshirt, allegedly worn by Bishop and said to contain vital DNA evidence, which was found beside a path behind Moulsecoomb railway station 

Ms Morgan told the court that Johnson lied swiftly and easily and only admitted changing her story in the witness box after the retrial.

'She knew all along,' Ms Morgan said. 

'For 35 years she knew the truth about that garment. She has said she is sorry but never once in all those years did she come forward.

'Never once did she tell the truth.'

The jury have been told they have to decide if Johnson was forced to lie in a signed witness statement and under oath in court against her will.

But the prosecutor said: 'Nobody has a gun to her head. Nobody said I'm going to kill you if you don't sign that, you're going to die tomorrow if you don't sign that.' 

Ms Morgan said a doctor who treated her described Johnson as confident, assertive and tough. 'She is a resourceful, forceful, strong woman,' she added. 

The trial at Lewes Crown Court continues.   

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