These were terrible crimes and her lies mattered – Brighton police chief’s verdict on Babes in the Wood perjurer

Posted On 17 May 2021 at 9:24 pm

The lies told by a perverted killer’s ex-girlfriend “undermined” the prosecution when Russell Bishop was acquitted of the Babes in the Woods murders in 1987, Brighton and Hove’s police chief said today.

Chief Superintendent Nick May

Chief Superintendent Nick May spoke out this afternoon (Monday 17 May) after Jennie Johnson, 55, was convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice by a jury at Lewes Crown Court.

Johnson, also known as Jennifer Robinson, of Saunders Park View, Brighton, was remanded in custody to be sentenced on Wednesday (19 May).

She will face justice in the same courtroom where she lied on oath about the blue Pinto sweatshirt worn by Bishop when he murdered nine-year-olds Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in 1986.

After his acquittal for the Wild Park murders, Bishop struck again. In 1990, he snatched a girl from the street in Whitehawk and bundled her into the boot of his car.

He drove to the Devil’s Dyke and sexually assaulted the seven-year-old, strangled her and dumped her in bushes, believing that she was dead.

Miraculously she survived and her evidence helped to put Bishop behind bars for life.

But it took advances in forensic science and a change in the law of double jeopardy before Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were able to bring Bishop to justice.

In 2018, 32 years after he murdered Nicola and Karen, he was jailed for life again, for a minimum term of 36 years.

Chief Superintendent May spoke to members of the two girls’ families outside the Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes shortly after the month-long trial ended with the two guilty verdicts.

Karen Hadaway’s mother Michelle Johnson, seated, with Lorna Clary, Lyndsey Hadaway, Emma Heffron and Richie Hadaway

And in a statement he said: “We worked closely with the CPS on this case, assessing that it was not possible or proper to prosecute until the guilt of Russell Bishop had been established.

“He was convicted in December 2018 following an intensive police investigation spanning many years and is now serving sentences of life imprisonment.

Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway

“This investigation began in 2019 and a file of evidence was submitted to the CPS who concluded that there was evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that it was in the public interest to bring this case to court.

“The decision of the court today brings to an end the investigations of these terrible crimes. The court was clearly satisfied that Johnson had lied to both the police and the jury in 1987.

Jennie Johnson – Photo courtesy of Brighton Pictures

“As the prosecutor made clear, those lies mattered. They undermined a key part of the prosecution case in 1987, specifically relating to the sweatshirt owned by Russell Bishop and which was at the centre of the trials in both 1987 and 2018.

“Our thoughts remain with all those affected by the tragic events of 1986 and 1990. None of us will ever fully understand what they have been through.”

  1. dawnbarnett Reply

    Well done Brighton Hove Police a great result for the families of the young girls Murdered by Russell Bishop

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