United Kingdom

Girlfriend of Babes in Wood killer was 'gaslighted' by police, court hears

Police gaslighted murderer Russell Bishop's partner before she lied under oath to protect him at the first Babes in the Wood murder trial, a court heard.

Jennifer Johnson was pressed by police about Bishop and his relationship with a teenage girl as they investigated him for the murders of Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in a Brighton park in 1986.

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. 

Ms Johnson, who had three children with Bishop, denies perverting the course of justice and perjury when he was acquitted of the 1986 murders.

Bishop was cleared after a trial in 1987 and three years later he attacked another girl, leaving her for dead. 

Police have been accused of gaslighting Jenny Johnson (left) before she lied under oath to protect her ex partner Russell Bishop during his 'Babes in the Wood' murder trial

Bishop was finally convicted of murdering Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in a case which became known as the Babes in the Wood and sentenced to life with a minimum 36 years after a double jeopardy re-trail in 2018.

Ms Johnson has now admitted that she lied in court and made false statements at his original trial, adding that she was under duress at the time.

Chris Henley QC for the defence asked a former Sussex Police officer if he thought his behaviour was bullying when he questioned Ms Johnson about Bishop and his relationship with 16-year-old Marion Stevenson.

Police had gone to the flat she shared with Bishop in Brighton to show Ms Johnson the blue sweatshirt which could have linked him to the murder scene.

Ms Johnson has now admitted that she lied in court and made false statements at his original trial, adding that she was under duress at the time

Mr Henley told former PC David 'Spud' Edwards his account of the conversation on October 31, 1986 was nonsense.

'You press on,' Mr Henley said. 'You challenged her. You thought that was appropriate?'

Ms Johnson told the officer Bishop was not seeing Ms Stevenson any longer.

'But that wasn't good enough for you,' Mr Henley told a jury at Lewes Crown Court.

'You asked her "How do you know he doesn't see her when he goes out at night".

'Why on Earth did you ask that? It's absolutely none of your business. You're gaslighting her.'

Mr Edwards said: 'I thought it was the next right question to ask. She didn't ask me to stop asking the questions.'

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

Earlier the court heard Ms Johnson will say she was terrorised by her former partner and his family and she had no faith in the police to protect her.

Bishop's mother Sylvia arrived at the flat and tore into Ms Johnson after she gave police a statement, Mr Edwards said.

Alison Morgan QC for the prosecution asked Mr Edwards if anything suggested Jennifer Johnson was vulnerable.

'No, not at all,' he said.

She asked the former policeman if he had any concerns about the conduct of Mrs Bishop towards Jennifer Johnson before the officer left the house.

'No, I did not,' he said.

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 

The court heard Jennifer Johnson accused her former partner of committing the Babes in the Wood murders before lying in court to help him get away with it.

But Ms Johnson told police she would have informed on him if she believed he had committed the murders.

She told police she was suspicious after something Bishop said to her and confronted him, accusing him and Marion Stevenson of killing the two nine-year-old girls.

In a statement read to the court by Alison Morgan, Mr Edwards noted: 'She said: "Well, a couple of days ago he said something to me and I said you and that f***ing sl** done it".

'You meant the two little girls, and she said: "Yes". You said why did you say that then?' 

Jennifer Johnson denies perverting the course of justice and perjury.

The trial at Lewes Crown Court continues.

Football news:

Mikel Arteta: Arsenal were more dominant in the 2nd half, but were not good enough in the 1st
Sulscher reached the final of the European Cup for the first time as a coach. He won the Champions League final with Manchester United as a player
Arsenal did not reach any finals in a season for the first time since 2016
Emery is the first coach with 5 finals in one European Cup tournament
Villarreal will play in the final of the European Cup for the first time
Manchester United lost for the first time in 8 matches. There were 6 wins and a draw
Manchester United reached the final for the first time under Solskjaer