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‘Babes in the Wood’ murder victims were thrown together in forest den, trial told

The woodland where the bodies of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows were found in 1986
The woodland where the bodies of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows were found in 1986
A court sketch of Russell Bishop
Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows

By Emily Pennink

Two murdered girls dubbed the 'Babes in the Wood' appeared to have been "thrown or tossed" together when their bodies were found in a den 32 years ago, a retired senior police officer has told jurors.

Former Superintendent David Tomlinson was in charge of the extensive operation to find nine-year-olds Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway after they went missing while out playing in Wild Park, Brighton on October 9, 1986.

Police officers had joined forces with local residents in the search, including murder-accused Russell Bishop and his Jack Russell dog Misty, the Old Bailey heard.

The girls were found dead in a clearing amid undergrowth near steps known as Jacob's Ladder the following day.

Bishop had rushed ahead of PC Paul Smith after one of two 18-year-olds who made the discovery had raised the alarm, jurors heard.

Giving evidence in Bishop's second trial, Mr Tomlinson said he received word of the find at about 4.20pm on October 10, 1986. When he arrived in the area, he came across PC Smith, Bishop and the two teenagers.

PC Smith pointed to a small clearing about 20ft away, the witness said.

The former Sussex Police officer said his view of the bodies was obscured by a slight curve so he moved forward about 10ft to get a better look.

He said: "I was able to see the two bodies but they were not in a comfortable position.

"I got the impression one body had been almost thrown or tossed against the other.

"Karen was wearing a grey pleated skirt, a type of school uniform. Nicola had a checked-type skirt."

One of the teenagers who found the bodies became pale and looked as if he was about to pass out but Bishop "did not seem to be affected", Mr Tomlinson said.

The retired officer said he ordered the whole scene to be sealed off.

Bishop was acquitted of the murders in 1987 but was ordered to stand trial a second time in light of new evidence following advances in DNA testing. The court heard that a blue Pinto sweatshirt - allegedly worn by Bishop - was found beside a path behind Moulsecoomb railway station.

The blue crew-neck sweatshirt, which smelt strongly of sweat and had red stains on it, was handed in to police at Wild Park on the afternoon of October 10, the court heard.

It was put in a brown paper bag and taken to Brighton police station before later being transferred to a clear sealed bag, jurors were told.

Retired chief superintendent Christopher Bentham gave evidence about how the key prosecution exhibit was handled.

Explaining the tests that would be carried out, he said: "They would be looking for blood. They would also be looking for fibres."

Sealed exhibits were later sent off to Aldermaston Forensic Laboratory for testing, jurors were told.

Bishop, a former roofer, who is now 52, has denied the murders.

The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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