How Babes in the Wood killer escaped justice for 30 years after double child murder – and only served 4 in jail

VILE 'Babes in the Wood' killer Russell Bishop served just four years in prison for the child murders after evading justice for 32 years.

The monster, 55, died in hospital on Wednesday night just hours after being rushed there from top security HMP Frankland, Co Durham. 

Bishop had escaped justice more than three decades after murdering nine-year-olds Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in 1986. 

The case – branded Babes in the Wood – was Sussex Police's longest-running murder inquiry as he dodged being caught in plain sight.

Here we take a look at how he evaded punishment for so long by faking alibis, deflecting guilt and hiding behind police blunders…

Bishop, of Brighton, East Sussex, lured best friends Nicola and Karen to a secluded den in the city's Wild Park where he sexually assaulted and strangled them. 

He was 20 years old at the time of the murders and working as a roofer in the Hollingdean area of Brighton.

Bishop joined the search for the two schoolgirls just hours after brutally murdering them in a bid to fool cops of his innocence.

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But it backfired when police thought his close involvement was suspicious.

In his evil attempt to throw cops off, Bishop had produced a series of fake alibis, including a "wild man" of the woods and his drug dealer.

He also sickeningly tried to cast doubt on Nicola's dad Barrie Fellows – claiming he had watched his daughter being filmed while she was sexually abused.

The dad, who had played cricket with Bishop, was forced to deny any involvement.

He was questioned by police following his daughter's death and a hate campaign was started on the Moulescoomb estate where he lived – forcing him to leave.

Even after Mr Fellows had moved, he continued to be shrouded in suspicion by police who arrested him in 2009 over an alleged plot to rape Nicola before her death that turned out to be completely baseless.


Bishop was eventually charged with the murders but was cleared after a trial at Lewes Crown Court in 1987.

His acquittal was later attributed to a series of blunders in the prosecution's case.

The light blue Pinto sweatshirt he wore on the day of the murders turned up a "one-in-a-billion" DNA match to Bishop.

But Bishop's defence had tried casting suspicion of the forensic evidence and even suggested it may have been contaminated.

Fiend Bishop lapped up publicity after he was originally cleared of murder – warning the double child killer was still at large.

He even vowed to "keep fighting" in sickening TV interviews – and claimed the ordeal would stay with him for life.

Bishop told regional news programme Coast To Coast just days after his acquittal: "I feel very bitter towards the police that they've closed the case.

"They knew all along that I did not do this and therefore they should open this case again.

"I won't stop fighting until it's open again."

However, just three years later, Bishop was convicted of abducting, sexually assaulting and trying to kill a seven-year-old girl at Devils Dyke on the South Downs.

The girl survived the attack and identified Bishop as her assailant.

Under cross-examination, he insisted he was not a paedophile but was just "bloody angry" at a hate campaign against him and thought "I might as well do it".

He ​​was sentenced to at least 14 years before eligible for release.

Finally, in 2018 Russell was put on trial again for the murders of Nicola and Karen after the Court of Appeal gave the Crown Prosecution Service the authority to quash acquittals.

He was on trial for the second time over the killings under the double jeopardy law following a DNA breakthrough.


The court heard that samples taken from the left forearm of one of the girls in 1986 had been re-examined in 2014 and matched the crucial blue sweatshirt that linked it to Bishop's home and the girls.

The jury was told how Bishop had sexually assaulted and strangled the girls with the court describing him as a "violent" and "predatory paedophile".

The two girls had gone to buy chips before playing together in Wild Park – half a mile from their homes – until dusk. 

Their bodies were discovered the next day in a woodland den with post mortem results revealing both girls had been strangled to death. 

Their underwear had either been removed or changed and there was evidence they were both sexually assaulted. 

Jurors heard that Karen would have lost consciousness but death would not have been instant.

Nicola appeared to have been "punched or struck" on the cheek and there was evidence she had been sexually assaulted while alive and after she died.

How Russell Bishop finally faced justice

October 9, 1986: Nicola and Karen, both nine, go missing from their homes in Moulsecoomb, Brighton, East Sussex.

October 10: The bodies of the girls are found huddled together at Wild Park.

December 10, 1987: Bishop is cleared of their murders at Lewes crown court, East Sussex.

December, 13, 1990: Bishop is convicted of a seven-year-old’s attempted murder, kidnapping and indecent assault.

October 16, 2018: He goes on trial again for murders of Nicola and Karen after Court of Appeal gave CPS authority to quash acquittals.

December 10, 2018: Bishop is found guilty of murder in just two hours after an agonising 32 year wait for the family

On 10 December 2018, after a nine-week trial, a jury of seven men and five women returned a guilty verdict.

He received two life sentences with a minimum of 36 years in prison.

But the monster only ended up serving four years for the children’s tragic deaths – as he died on Wednesday after The Sun revealed he had bowel cancer.

His last moments were spent alone, watched over only by a pair of prison officers as his life ebbed away.

The disease quickly spread despite surgery, and by October he was being given palliative care. 

The families of Bishop's victims begged him to use his final weeks to tell them why he had committed the murders. 

Sources said that he was rushed to hospital after suffering from breathing difficulties and passed away shortly before 9pm on Wednesday.

Bishop's own relatives were informed overnight of his death, which came just three weeks before his 56th birthday.

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