Babes in the Wood murderer Russell Bishop was “evil” and “a monster”, his ex-girlfriend told police, and he should have been hanged.
Jennie Johnson finally spoke out during an interview with detectives more than 30 years after Bishop killed two nine-year-olds – Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway.
Jennifer Nancy Johnson, also known as Jennifer Robinson, 55, of Saunders Park View, Brighton, is on trial at Lewes Crown Court for perjury and perverting justice.
She admits lying under oath at Bishop’s first trial – at Lewes Crown Court in 1987 – and when she retracted a statement that linked Bishop to the killer’s sweatshirt.
Bishop was acquitted in 1987 and went on to kidnap, sexually assault and try to kill another girl in 1990.
He was jailed for life and, after a change in the law of double jeopardy, tried again and convicted in 2018 for the Babes in the Wood murders at the Old Bailey.
Yesterday (Monday 26 April) Alison Morgan, prosecuting, and Detective Constable Gary Pattison read the jury at her trial a transcript of an interview with Johnson.
In the interview, which took place in Hollingbury in September 2019, Johnson said: “It’s really hard. Thirty-three years ago my life changed … Met the wrong person … I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for.
“I was 18 when I met him. Young. I was brought up in a very sheltered life. The day I met him, I should’ve run a mile but I didn’t.
“I was always brought up that once you make your bed, you lie in it – and that was my parents.
“I fell pregnant at 19. Had my son Victor. Russell was in prison when I was giving birth to my son – for burglary.
“The day he came out he battered me. He battered me for years and he’s still getting to me now.
“I didn’t have a choice in those days. I had to do what I was told to do because that was the way it was with him.
“I lived my life in fear then. I’m still living my life in fear all these years later.
“The police came … Didn’t even have a mobile phone in those days. Don’t even think there was mobile phones in those days, were there?
“Yes, I did say the Pinto (sweatshirt) was his.
“I was told I had to retract my statement. Didn’t have a choice. I’m sorry, didn’t have a choice.
“Nobody was there to protect me. Called the police. It’s called a domestic – and that’s all I used to get … It was a different world in those days, a totally different world.
“And when I used to go and see him, he used to say: ‘You put me in here.’
“Yeah, I did. He can rot in hell. But, no, you still let him out. You still let him out.
“It didn’t matter how many times he hit me, you lot still didn’t help me … My life was hell and I didn’t get the help.
“I’ve always tried to protect my children. They were my life. His name ain’t even on their birth certificates. It’s got father unknown on all three birth certificates.
“What else can I say? I met a monster I didn’t even know. But I was young – young, naïve, stupid, weak – in those days.
“I had no help and that’s not an excuse. But it’s the truth. I didn’t have any help.
“His mum’s controlling. She’s very much controlling.
“They should’ve brought back hanging many years ago – or the electric chair.
“My late husband got attacked for being with me … He was a good man … I went from a monster to a loving man. Two men in my life – one evil and one good.
“It is the biggest nightmare of my life. What he did, I could never understand that … I still live the nightmares.
“Sorry if I did wrong in those days. I had no choice and – I know lying’s wrong – I didn’t have a choice in those days cos I couldn’t cope with the consequences … I couldn’t get the help I needed.
“It would be different in this day and age because you get the help. In those days, you didn’t get any help.
“Sorry. I really am sorry. I’m sorry for the parents, sorry for the kids.
“I still fear for my kids now … I still fear for my grandkids.
“I went out the other week. Someone threatened to smack me in the face cos of who I was. I still get it now. So I’m still living a nightmare but not from him but from other people.
“My flat was firebombed years ago. I’ve had my car smashed up.
“But you just can’t understand. I just don’t understand how I fell for someone like him. I met him on the CB radio … I wasn’t allowed out after 10 o’clock at night when I lived at home.
“And he was my first boyfriend – what I classed as a boyfriend. Did it one. Fell for my son.
“I love my kids. They’re the only decent thing that’s come out of it. But they’re my children, not his. They’re mine and that’s why his name’s not on their birth certificates. Father unknown.
“And, no, lying is wrong – but when you have no choice … When you’re told what to do and told what to say.
“If you don’t, you have the consequences – and the amount of batterings I had – nah, don’t take that any more. Just couldn’t take it.
“I changed the statement to save my and my children’s lives which I know now is wrong and I do understand it’s wrong and I’m sorry.
“I really didn’t have a choice – and if this all comes out in the papers, they would have a field day. My children would suffer again. I’ve never been to the papers for a story.
“I’ve kept my head held high because, in my eyes, I hadn’t done anything wrong.
“I just went with a monster, I suppose, if that’s what you want to call him. I don’t know what you can call him. He ain’t a human being, is he?”
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