Babes In The Wood killer Russell Bishop dies from brain cancer aged 55

Babes In The Wood killer Russell Bishop dies from brain cancer aged 55 – four years after being brought to justice for murdering two nine-year-old girls

  • Murderer passed away in hospital last night, two years after cancer diagnosis
  • He murdered best friends Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in 1986
  • Bishop had been receiving palliative care in prison since October 

Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop has died from brain cancer. 

The murderer, 55, passed away in hospital last night after being rushed there from the top security HMP Frankland, in County Durham. 

He murdered best friends Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway, both nine, in 1986 before dumping their bodies in woodland near their homes in Brighton.

In 2020, it was reported he had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, but this later spread to his brain.  

Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop has died from brain cancer. The murderer, 55, passed away in hospital last night after being rushed there from the top security HMP Frankland, in County Durham

According to The Sun, the killer died in hospital last night while being watched over by a pair of prison officers. 

Bishop lured the two best friends Nicola and Karen to a secluded den in Brighton’s Wild Park where he sexually assaulted and strangled them.

The tragic discovery was made just half a mile from both of the girl’s family homes.

Bishop was cleared of the Babes in the Wood murders in 1987 after a series of blunders by police, forensic experts and prosecutors.


Bishop brutally killed Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in 1986 when they were both just nine

Within three years he went on to kidnap, molest and throttle a seven-year-old girl at Devil’s Dyke.

While serving life for that crime, Bishop was ordered to face a fresh trial for Nicola and Karen’s murders in light of a DNA breakthrough.

He was finally convicted of Nicola and Karen’s murders in 2018 after his acquittals were quashed in 2017.    

A source told The Sun last night: ‘Bishop spent his last weeks in relative peace – a world away from the torment he has caused the girls’ families.

‘There will be few tears shed for his passing.’

The killer was reportedly taken to hospital yesterday after his health deteriorated rapidly in prison and he began suffering from breathing difficulties. 

He passed away shortly before 9pm last night.

In October last year, the killer was urged by Nicola and Karen’s families to finally come clean and confess to his horrific crimes after decades of denials.

Bishop pictured after his initial arrest for the 1986 Babes in the Wood murders

They told The Mirror: ‘Russell Bishop has a chance to come clean before he dies unless he is a bigger coward than he has always seemed.

How journalist Martin Bashir lost Karen Hadaway’s clothes 

The Babes in the Woods case was brought to public attention last year when Karen’s mother accused journalist Martin Bashir of losing her daughter’s clothes.

Michelle Hadaway said the former BBC religion editor obtained the clothes for DNA testing for BBC Two’s Public Eye programme 30 years ago, but the investigation did not air and her calls to the broadcaster were ignored, she claimed.

Ms Hadaway previously said Mr Bashir approached her in 1991 and asked to have her daughter’s clothing DNA tested, saying that science had advanced in the five years since the murders, but never returned the clothes.

‘And if he doesn’t have the guts to confess his crimes and admit his guilt, he will be the loser, so our message to him is simple.

‘We don’t need your admission of what you did to our beautiful girls. Your refusal doesn’t matter to us… but your admission would show you have finally had the courage to take responsibility for your despicable crimes.’

Nicola’s parents Barrie Fellows and Susan Eismann and Karen’s mother Michelle Hadaway issued the statement with the help of Nicola’s cousin Lorna Heffron.   

Last summer, Bishop’s girlfriend Jennifer Johnson, 55, was convicted for perverting the course of justice for lying in his first trial.

Johnson stunned police in the dock after suddenly claiming a blue jumper that linked him to the crime scene and killings was not his. She had previously told investigators it had been his garment.

Johnson had admitted lying, but had pleaded not guilty to perjury and perverting the course of justice, on the basis that she was acting under duress.

But the jury at Lewes Crown Court decided she was lying again and had been ‘part of Team Bishop’, desperate to get him cleared of murder.

Love letters sent from Johnson to him during the Devils Dyke case and shown to these jurors, had laid bare the lengths she would go to for him.

They trilled: ‘I’m not going to leave you so don’t worry because I won’t. cos I love you very much and I will write every day because you’re special to me and you mean all the world too.

‘Don’t get worried when I’m not up with your mum as I can’t get a babysitter all the time but I’m still thinking of you love. 

The girls were found dead in this ‘den’ in undergrowth in Wild Park, Brighton

The case was also brought to recent public attention after the mother of murdered Karen Hadaway accused shamed journalist Martin Bashir of losing her daughter’s clothes 

‘Can we get married quite soon and I will book the church OK? It is wonderful that you want to marry me. It’s not prison talk is it love? I haven’t got a lot to say so bye for now.’

The lies and blunders that let killer go free 

Bishop’s first trial in 1987 saw a series of blunders which led to his acquittal.

  • Bishop’s sweatshirt, which was central to the case, was initially treated as lost property.  
  • It was put in a brown paper bag as ‘no one thought it was important’ during the search for the girls. 
  • Forensic science only allowed experts to say the jumper and the girls ‘could’ have been in contact with each other. 
  • Human hairs and fibres found on Nicola’s body were not tested. 
  • The ‘Pinto’ jumper was widely available in shops across the country, so may not have been Bishops. 
  • Bishop’s partner Jennifer Johnson initially identified the jumper as his, but then denied it when she took the witness stand.

New DNA techniques linked the killer to the double murders through the blue sweatshirt. 

The top, discarded along Bishop’s route home, contained crucial evidence which linked it to Bishop, the two girls and Johnson.

The case was also brought to public attention last year when Karen’s mother accused journalist Martin Bashir of losing her daughter’s clothes.

Ms Hadaway said the former BBC religion editor obtained the clothes for DNA testing for BBC Two’s Public Eye programme 30 years ago, but the investigation did not air and her calls to the broadcaster were ignored, she claimed.

Ms Hadaway previously said Mr Bashir approached her in 1991 and asked to have her daughter’s clothing DNA tested, saying that science had advanced in the five years since the murders, but never returned the clothes.

She called him a ‘dishonest rogue’ and called for a criminal investigation after she claimed he delayed the killer’s capture. 

In December, it was revealed that Bashir admitted in a handwritten letter to Ms Hadaway to having taken the clothes.

In his letter, Bashir said he was ‘deeply sorry’ that the clothing in which Karen was murdered – which he revealed he took ‘to the BBC’ – went missing. 

Karen’s parents Michelle and Lee Hadaway moved to Surrey after the murder of their daughter and divorced six years later, blaming the tragedy.

Lee moved back in Brighton where he was homeless and addicted to tranquillisers.

He died from a heart attack in 1998 without seeing Bishop convicted of killing his daughter.

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 


Jennifer Johnson, Russell Bishop’s girlfriend, pictured leaving Brighton Magistrates Court on left and after the first trial on the right

The letter from Johnson to Bishop showed she only cared for him, not his victims

Nicola’s dad Barrie Fellows was dogged for years by entirely false claims by Johnson and Bishop implicating him in the murder of his own daughter.

His brother Kevin spent 18 months conducting his own investigation into the blue sweatshirt before he died of cancer without seeing justice for Nicola.

The seven-year-old girl Bishop attacked after he was acquitted was snatched off the street, thrown in a car boot.

Bishop drove her to Devil’s Dyke where he left her for dead.

She was spotted on the roadside, naked, freezing and terrified.

The girl was able to identify Bishop and he was jailed for life.

The long road to justice

October 10, 1986 – Victims found in woods in Wild Park, Brighton.  

December 3, 1986 – Bishop charged with the murders. 

December 10, 1987 – After a four week trial, Bishop is acquitted of both murders and released. 

February 4, 1990 – Bishop arrested for kidnap, indecent assault and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl at Devil’s Dyke, East Sussex. 

January 19, 1991 – Bishop convicted of kidnap, indecent assault and attempted murder and sentenced to life with a minimum of 14 years. 

July 2002 – Babes in the Wood case subject to review and DNA profiling, but was not a success. 

April 2005 – Double jeopardy laws – on people being able to be tried twice for same offence twice – are changed.  

January 2006 – Forensic tests link Bishop and the Pinto sweatshirt. 

Autumn 2006 – Families of both victims informed there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a fresh case against Bishop. 

2011-2012 – Cold case review of the murders.  

November 3, 2013 – Full reinvestigation of forensics. 

May 10, 2016 – Russell Bishop rearrested. 

December 2017 – His acquittal was quashed. 

December 2018 – He is finally convicted of the murders.

Source: Read Full Article