Babes in the Wood families speak of their grief and relief as ‘monster’ Bishop is convicted of Wild Park murders
The families of the Babes in the Wood murder victims have spoken of their grief and relief as Russell Bishop was convicted of the Wild Park murders in Brighton in 1986.
Lorna Heffron spoke for the the families outside the Old Bailey in London this afternoon (Monday 10 December) after Bishop, 52, was found guilty of murdering Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway, both nine, and both of Newick Road, Moulsecoomb.
Lorna Heffron said: “Nicola and Karen. Our beautiful girls. We will never forget their smiles that would light up a room. Their laughter. Their cheekiness.
“During the past eight weeks, we have endured reliving the horrific details of their murders and we have learned an awful lot about the true meaning of heartbreak all over again.
“We stand here as two families united in our grief. United in our fight for justice. And now united in our elation at today’s guilty verdict.
“We are extremely relieved and grateful that our 32 years hard-fought battle has been a success, finally getting the rightful long-awaited justice for both of our girls.
“We want to thank our police teams and counsel, who have been fantastic during the past couple of decades. If it wasn’t for their efforts and dedication working with us, we wouldn’t be stood here today.
“Together we have changed history with this ‘double jeopardy’ ruling and we finally have the correct outcome – Russell Bishop remains behind bars where he belongs.
“The guilty verdict doesn’t bring Nicola and Karen back but we know that other children are now safe from the hands of Russell Bishop.
“He is a monster. A predatory paedophile. Russell Bishop truly is evil personified.”
Karen’s mother Michelle said: “After 32 years of fighting, we finally have justice for Karen and Nicola.
“Time stood still for us in 1986. To us them beautiful girls will always be nine-year-olds. They will never grow up.
“We’ve been deprived of a happy life to watch them grow into adults. What people like Bishop inflict on the families of their victims is a living death. They take the lives of children but they also take the lives of the families left behind.
“Kas and Nicky, as they were affectionately known, friends playing out together only to have their lives wiped out by a sexual deviant, a monster.
“What’s been hard, horrendous and heart-breaking is to hear that they were murdered by a disgusting paedophile, who we actually knew and the two girls liked and trusted. He abused that trust.
“Bishop doesn’t deserve to breathe the same clean air as we do. After all, he decided that day to strangle the life out of our two angels, leaving them no air to breathe.
“What makes a man want to squeeze the life out of two innocent children with his bare hands? Unbelievable when he had a child himself and another on the way.
“He’s a coward without a conscience. I don’t believe you can rehabilitate evil. I think Bishop was just born that way.
“People talk to me of forgiveness but I can never forgive or forget what the evil monster did to my beautiful Kaz and Nicky.
“I’m trying so hard to get my head around this but I will cos I’m a fighter and I’ll never stop being strong for my family.”
Detective Superintendent Jeff Riley said: “Russell Bishop is a truly wicked man and has rightly now been convicted of these dreadful crimes.
“This has been one of the most high-profile and complex murder investigations in the history of Sussex Police.
“This case still impacts on the community of Brighton and, of course, has forever altered the lives of the families of the two girls, and in particular, their parents, Michelle, Susan and Barrie.
“Sadly Karen’s father, Lee, passed away in 1998 and never saw justice for his daughter. This has been delivered today.
“We had never forgotten or given up on the case, which over the years has been the subject of continual review and forensic developments. The change in the law in 2005 and the recent significant forensic breakthroughs, combined with all our previous investigative work, has now all come together to finally achieved justice for the families of Karen and Nicola.
“This is the moment to remember the two murdered girls. They died at the hands of a predatory and vicious killer, who has refused for 32 years to face up to what he did – and still does.
“We should also acknowledge the courage, persistence and dignity of Karen and Nicola’s families. Throughout the years they too have never given up, always seeking justice.
“I pay tribute to my own Sussex Police investigation team, whose detailed and tireless work has helped to bring justice for Karen and Nicola. This work was built upon the strong foundations provided by the original investigation team in 1986.
“In addition, our Crown Prosecution Service colleagues, who were engaged at the very start of this inquiry, have provided critical support and guidance throughout.
“Also key to this outcome were independent forensic experts, Roy Green, Louissa Marsh and Ros Hammond from Eurofins, whose meticulous work proved that the original forensic evidence remained valid after 32 years and in addition provided new and compelling evidence.
“But today is about the families. In addition to the distress they have suffered since 1986, during this trial they have had to listen to a defence argument seeking to paint the father of one of the victims as the murderer.
“Anyone who witnessed the anguish and pain shown by Barrie Fellows when he gave evidence cannot fail to have been moved by it.
“The jury clearly saw through this cynical and heartless attempt by Bishop to cause yet further distress and to divert blame away from himself. It is a tribute to the families’ resilience that they reacted with calm, dignified resolve.
“Finally it has been a privilege for me to lead this investigation and I sincerely hope that the families can now find some peace, and move forward to the next chapter of their lives.”
Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said: “We are pleased to have achieved justice for the families of Karen and Nicola and we should remember those two nine-year-old girls today.
“I would like to thank the ex-officers and staff who have assisted the current investigation.
“I must finally thank the current investigation team, led by Detective Superintendent Jeff Riley, which has worked quietly and professionally with Crown Prosecution Service and forensic colleagues for the last five years to put this case together with an absolute determination to get to the truth.”
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