Russell Bishop murder trial: Deaths 'similar to sex attack'

Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows Image copyright PA
Image caption Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows were killed in October 1986

There are "striking similarities" between the deaths of two nine-year-old girls and a sex attack on another child four years later, the Old Bailey has heard.

Russell Bishop, who denies murdering Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in 1986, was convicted of trying to kill a seven-year-old girl in 1990.

The court has heard Nicola and Karen were strangled and sexually assaulted.

The 1990 attack saw the child strangled and molested while unconscious.

Bishop, 52, is facing a second trial over the killings 32 years ago, when the bodies of the two girls were found in a woodland den in Wild Park.

Jurors have heard that within three years of being acquitted in the first trial, Bishop was convicted of the attempted murder, kidnap and indecent assault of another girl.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the jury: "We say the similarities between these offences and the 1986 murders are so striking and obvious that they, in combination with other evidence... point to him and only him as their killer."

'Left for dead'

Jurors heard in the 1990 attack, Bishop bundled the seven-year-old, who had been roller skating in Brighton, into a car boot and drove 14 miles to Devil's Dyke on the South Downs.

There he strangled her and then stripped and molested her while she was unconscious, the court was told.

Afterwards, Bishop dumped the girl in dense gorse and "left her for dead", the jury heard.

The court heard she survived and managed to struggle out of the bushes to find help.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Russell Bishop was cleared of murdering Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway after a trial in 1987

Mr Altman told the court all three victims were prepubescent girls targeted in Brighton shortly before dusk.

All the offences involved strangulation followed by sexual assault, with the victims hidden in wooded or overgrown areas, he said.

Mr Altman also said in both cases Bishop attempted to clean himself, his clothes or his car.

He said in 1986, Bishop washed his clothes and had a bath when he got home and after the 1990 attack, showed "forensic awareness" in cleaning his car.

Earlier, jurors heard Bishop had joined the search for Nicola and Karen and was among the first to find their bodies on 10 October 1986 - the day after they went missing - and had appeared grief-stricken.

Mr Altman said the then 20-year-old told a neighbour he would never forget the sight of the girls' bodies, but added: "If he did appear to be grief-stricken, then he was play-acting."

Image copyright BBC News
Image caption Bishop was told to stay back when the bodies were found, jurors heard

When the bodies were found, Bishop was told to stay back after he made to move forward for a closer look, jurors heard.

A police officer crawled through the bracken and found Karen lying across Nicola with her head in her friend's lap, Mr Altman said.

Bishop later told the neighbour he had found the girls with three "mates" and said he obtained clothing from their parents and gave it to his dog to sniff out the children, the prosecutor said.

Jurors heard Bishop also claimed he had felt for a pulse on one of the girls.

But the Old Bailey heard he later told a friend he was not bothered about finding the girls at all and allegedly said: "One was lying on her back and the other one was lying across the other one's stomach.

"One had blood coming from the corner of her mouth."

Mr Altman said: "The prosecution suggests that the only way the defendant could have known the detail of the girls' positions in relation to each other was not because he saw it at the time of finding, but quite simply because that is how he left them, having killed them."

The trial continues.

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