When two murdered nine-year-old girls from Brighton were found, it looked as if “one body had been almost thrown or tossed across the other”, a retired police chief told jurors today (Thursday 1 November).
Retired Superintendent David Tomlinson was the chief of police in Brighton during the desperate search for missing schoolgirls Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in October 1986.
He described being taken to where the girls’ bodies were found in Wild Park, not far from where they lived in Newick Road, Moulsecoomb.
Mr Tomlinson described seeing former Brighton roofer Russell Bishop and his dog at the scene.
Bishop, 52, formerly of Stephens Road, Hollingdean, is on trial for the girls’ murder at the Central Criminal Court – better known as the Old Bailey – in London.
The bodies of the girls – described in newspaper reports as the Babes in the Wood – were found in a den or clearing in Wild Park on Friday 10 October 1986.
Mr Tomlinson said that he heard the bodies had been found at about 4.20pm and was taken to the scene.
When he reached the scene, PC Paul Smith, known as Smudge, was there along with Bishop and the two teenagers who found the girls – hospital porter Kevin Rowland and his friend Matthew “Mac” Marchant, both 18.
He said that PC Smith pointed out a small clearing about 20ft away although the view was obscured slightly by a curve or dip in the path and by the undergrowth.
Mr Tomlinson went about halfway towards the girls so that he could see the scene better without disturbing it.
He said: “There was still an amount of undergrowth. With the position of the bodies, it was difficult for me to see what had happened.
“I was able to see the two bodies but they were not in a comfortable position. I got the impression that one body had been almost thrown or tossed against the other.
Mr Tomlinson said that he ordered the scene to be sealed off and noticed how one of the 18-year-olds who found the bodies looked as though he would pass out.
Bishop “didn’t seem to be affected”, Mr Tomlinson told the jury.
Under cross-examination, he said: “He wasn’t showing the same sort of distress as the younger man.”
But Mr Tomlinson added: “I was also shocked.”
The jury also heard evidence about a Pinto sweatshirt found close to Moulsecoomb railway station.
It was first found by three young men taking part in the overnight search for the two girls – Peter James, Philip Upton and Yann Svenski.
The sweatshirt was inside out and fairly dry, even though the grass was wet and the air was damp.
The young men had no idea of its importance and left it hanging from a fence by the path – and it was found in the same area the next day by Seeboard engineer Robert Gander.
He contacted police and told them that he had found a sweatshirt smelling strongly of sweat and with red stains on it.
He was asked to take it to the “incident pod” in Wild Park where it was put in a brown paper evidence bag and taken to the police station in John Street, Brighton, where it was put a clear sealed bag.
The sweatshirt was allegedly worn by Bishop.
Retired chief superintendent Christopher “Kit” Bentham told the jury about the tests carried out on the sweatshirt.
Even in the days before DNA evidence, he wore a lab coat and gloves when it was tested for blood and fibres to “preserve the integrity” of evidence and to prevent contamination.
Mr Bentham said: “The main focus was to preserve whatever item it was for examination for the relevant scientists.”
Tape was used to test the bodies for any blood and fibre samples to be sent in sealed evidence bags to the Home Office forensic lab at Aldermaston, in Berkshire.
Joel Bennathan, defending, suggested that in the days before DNA, less care was taken to prevent the contamination of exhibits although Mr Bentham said that great care was taken.
Bishop denies two counts of murder. The trial continues.
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