Court is told the girlfriend of Babes in the Woods murderer changed her story at murder trial

The girlfriend of convicted killer Russell Bishop told police a sweatshirt linked to the murder scene was his before changing her story in court.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 4:54 pm
Russell Bishop's former girlfriend Jenny Johnson after an earlier court appearance. She denies perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Mum-of-four Jenny Johnson, 55, is on trial at Lewes Crown Court. She denies perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Bishop was acquitted of murdering Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway at his first trial in 1987. Following a change in the law, he was tried again and convicted in 2018.

The two friends were aged nine when Bishop abducted and murdered them. The murders became known as the Babes in the Wood case after their bodies were discovered in woodland at Wild Park, Brighton.

Lewes Crown Court heard today (Monday, April 19) that police took a sweatshirt to the house in Brighton Jenny Johnson shared with Bishop while he was being questioned about the murders.

Former Sussex Police detective Barry Evans told a jury Ms Johnson identified the shirt straight away.

He said: “Her opening remark was ‘Oh, you’ve brought Russell’s jumper back’. I was under the misapprehension that she was thinking this was one we had previously taken.

“I said ‘This isn’t one of those that we took away’. She said ‘Where did you get it form then’. I didn’t reply to that but asked her ‘Is it Russell’s’."

"She said ‘Yes, he’s got one exactly like it’,” the former detective said.

“I realised at that point, this was something a bit more significant,” he told the court.

When Bishop was tried for the Babes in the Wood murders of nine-year-olds Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows in 1987, Ms Johnson said Bishop had never owned the sweatshirt and denied making a statement to police.

He was finally convicted of the murders after new scientific evidence linking him to the sweatshirt ended in a double jeopardy trial.

Ms Johnson had three children with Bishop, the court heard.

She has admitted lying under oath. The court heard she will tell the jury Bishop and his family terrorised her into changing her story.

Chris Henley QC for the defence asked Mr Evans if he remembered Bishop’s mother Sylvia arriving at the house while he was taking a statement from Ms Johnson.

“When Sylvia Bishop discovered you were taking a statement, she became angry and abusive,” Mr Henley said.

“No, not to me,” the former detective said. “As far as I was aware she was not aware we were taking a statement.”

Mr Henley asked if Sylvia Bishop 'tore into Jennifer Johnson'.

“She was demanding to know what she had said and why she said it,” Mr Henley said.

“I don’t understand that. We hadn’t told her why we were there so I don’t know why she would say that,” the former detective said.

Mum-of-four Jenny Johnson, 55, denies perjury and perverting the course of justice.

The trial at Lewes Crown Court continues.