A jury was told about the last time that two mothers saw their nine-year-old daughters alive.
Brian Altman, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey jury about their panic as they frantically searched in Wild Park, Brighton, for their missing girls.
Mr Altman was setting out the case against former roofer Russell Bishop, 52, who is on trial for the murder of the two girls – Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway.
Earlier, Mr Altman told the jury that Bishop had been tried for their murder previously – in 1987 – when he was acquitted.
But he had since been jailed after being convicted of the attempted murder, kidnap and sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl in Brighton.
Bishop, formerly of Stephens Road, Hollingdean, denies murdering the two girls. He is on trial at the Central Criminal Court, better known as the Old Bailey, in London.
Mr Altman told the seven men and five women of the jury: “On Thursday 9 October 1986, Nicola returned home from school at about 3.30pm, a short time after which Michelle Hadaway, who was friendly with Susan Fellows (Nicola’s mother), arrived at the Fellows home with another woman, Theresa Judd.“At the time, Susan Fellows was at home with her mother, Mabel.
“At about 4pm, the defendant called at the Fellows home, looking for his friend Dougie Judd who was lodging there.
“The defendant was with his girlfriend, Marion Stevenson, and another young woman called Tracy Cox, both of whom Susan recalled being at the gate.
“According to Susan Fellows, Nicola went to the door and showed the defendant that Dougie Judd was not in by opening the door of the downstairs bedroom he lodged in.
“But there was no physical contact between Nicola and the defendant. As they left, Nicola shouted after Marion Stevenson, who she did not like, ‘Slag!’
“Michelle Hadaway recalled it slightly differently. She had been getting up to leave because it was after 3.30pm and she knew Karen would be coming home from school.
“As she did so, she saw the defendant, Marion Stevenson and Tracy Cox coming down the path to the Fellows house.
“She heard one of them asking Nicola (who by now had gone to the door) whether Dougie Judd was in, to which Nicola replied, ‘No, he’s not!’ and slammed the door shut, shouting after them through the letterbox, ‘Go away, you slag!’
“The defendant left without entering the house. The event is important because the lack of physical contact with Nicola or entry into the address is significant when we come to consider the scientific evidence that was later found to show a scientific connection between the defendant and Nicola.
“After she came in from school at a little after 4pm, Karen went to a sweetshop on a parade of shops on Coldean Lane at Park Road with some money that she had been given by a school friend and she returned home about 20 minutes later.
“Karen had been wearing her school uniform that day which was a green long-sleeved sweatshirt, a t-shirt, a kilt-type skirt, white knickers and school shoes.
“By the time she came in from the shop that afternoon, her mother noticed that she had discarded her school jacket and had changed out of her school shoes into a pair of pink trainers.
“Michelle Hadaway washed the green sweatshirt every weekend so it was clean on each Monday. Monday 6 October 1986 was no different.
“In terms of her personal hygiene, Karen washed every morning and then had a bath or a shower every evening. According to her mother, she would often bathe in the morning as well as the evening if she got up in time.
“Having returned home from the shop, Karen went out again, even though Michelle had her tea in the oven.
“Karen was still wearing her school uniform minus her school jacket and school shoes. Michelle told her not to be long and Karen said she would not be.
“That was the last time Michelle saw her daughter alive.
“Susan Fellows remembers Nicola going out to play after the defendant had been to her house looking for Judd and after Michelle Hadaway and Theresa Judd had left.
“Every now and then, Susan looked out and could see Nicola playing with a girl called Lisa Bowles and Lyndsey, Karen’s younger sister. At about 5pm, Susan saw Nicola and Karen playing with a roller boot.
“This, for Susan, was also to be the last time she saw Nicola alive.
“When she was last seen by Susan Fellows, Nicola had been wearing red shoes, pink knickers, a brown and white chequered skirt and a pink and brown V-necked sweatshirt but no socks or coat.
“She had taken her long white socks off when she came in from school. The clothes were clean on that day and had been washed since the last time that they had been worn.
“When Nicola was found dead the next day, she was wearing a pair of pink knickers, albeit they were inside out.
“Susan thought it possible that Nicola had put on a clean pair of knickers when she took her socks off, as she had a habit of holding herself for too long and wetting her knickers. Nicola had no money on her that day.
“Eventually, Michelle went out looking for Lyndsey, the younger sister, and found her in the Fellows garden.
“Lyndsey told her that Karen and Nicola had run off down the road but she did not take too much notice.
“Michelle took Lyndsey home for tea but by 5.20pm Karen was still not home, so Michelle went out to knock on the Bowles family house door to find her but without success.
“She then knocked on Susan’s door asking her if she knew where Karen was, but she did not know, so Michelle started looking around for her but, by 6.30pm, returned to the Fellows home and joined up with Susan Fellows in order to find the girls as they were understandably beginning to worry.”
They never saw their girls alive again.
The trial continues.