The ex-girlfriend of Babes in the Wood murderer Russell Bishop told a jury this morning: “I lied under oath and that’s why I’m here.
“I had no choices. I’m sorry. I am sorry but I had no choice.”
Jennie Johnson, 55, gave false evidence in the trial of her former boyfriend Russell Bishop at Lewes Crown Court in 1987.
At the end of the trial he was acquitted of the murder of two nine-year-old girls – Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway – in Wild Park in Brighton.
Johnson was back at Lewes Crown Court today (Thursday 29 April) where she is on trial herself for perjury and perverting justice.
She admitted the lies publicly for the first time as a jury of seven men and five women listened to defence counsel Chris Henley ask her about what happened.
She said: “I feel sorry for the families. I do. I wouldn’t like to lose a child. I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes.
“But I’m being treated like a criminal, Maybe I am because I lied but I didn’t murder anyone.
“It’s like I’m being raped all over again. I’d rather be dead than listen to this again. Difficult? I have had to live with this all my life.”
Johnson, also known as Jennifer Robinson, of Saunders Park View, Brighton, said that she had lost her job as a carer since the high-profile trial began as a result of the publicity.
She answered questions about the violence that she had suffered during her volatile relationship with Bishop.
They had three children together before he was jailed for the kidnap, sexual assault and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl in 1990.
She later married and had a fourth child although, the jury was told, her husband died in 2014.
From the witness stand, Johnson said that the no one in authority had ever helped her, adding: “I’ve got no faith in the police. Not then. Not now.
“Because they let him go the first time, they’re blaming me and it’s not my fault.”
Three weeks after the bodies of the two girls were found in October 1986, Johnson identified a blue Pinto sweatshirt as belonging to Bishop.
The sweatshirt proved to be a crucial piece of evidence – not least at Bishop’s retrial at the Old Bailey in 2018 when he was finally convicted of the murders. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years.
But before the trial at Lewes in 1987, Johnson retracted her statement and kept up the lies on the witness stand.
Her defence is duress – that she feared the repercussions if she told the truth.
The trial continues.
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