Babes in the Wood girl’s mother: ‘There are no words to describe the pain’

Posted On 18 May 2021 at 7:48 pm

Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway

The mother of one of the nine-year-old “Babes in the Wood” has spoken out after murderer Russell Bishop’s ex-girlfriend Jennie Johnson was convicted of perjury at Lewes Crown Court.

Michelle Johnson, whose daughter Karen Hadaway was killed with her best friend Nicola Fellows in Wild Park in 1986, said: “There are no words to described the pain.”

Tomorrow Jennifer Johnson, also known as Jennifer Robinson, 55, of Saunders Park View, Brighton, is due to be sentenced for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

She will face justice in the same courtroom at Lewes tomorrow (Wednesday 19 May) where her lies played a part in Bishop’s acquittal in 1987, leaving him free to strike again.

After the jury’s verdict yesterday Michelle Johnson, 64, spoke out, surrounded by member of her family and the family of Nicola Fellows.

She said: “We stand here again, two families together, still fighting for our beautiful girls, still fighting for what is right.

“Thirty-five years ago, Jennifer Johnson lied on oath at the very court where she has just stood trial for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

“Her wicked lies about a crucial piece of evidence, a blue Pinto sweatshirt, subsequently helped her boyfriend – the monster, Russell Bishop, a murdering psychopathic paedophile – escape justice for the double murder of two innocent little girls, my beautiful Karen and her friend Nicky.

“After the monster was acquitted in 1987, herself and the Bishop Family, who had signed a 15,000 or more exclusive with the News of the World spent a few days at the Gatwick Hilton hotel, eating fine food and drinking champagne – all paid for by that newspaper.

“Wow! What an amazing time they must have had while us parents were left devastated. Not only had we lost our daughters, the evil monster who had killed them walked free!

“The wicked lies this woman told had very serious consequences because three years later, on the anniversary of Karen and Nicky’s funeral, that evil man struck again.

“This time, an innocent seven-year-old little girl was attacked, which brought painful memories back, but thank God she survived and identified him as her attacker.

“He was convicted of the serious offences of kidnapping, sexual assault and attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

“But yet Johnson still defended him, even though she knew he was guilty.

Jennie Johnson – Photo courtesy of Brighton Pictures

“She knew that the person who wore that sweatshirt was the person who had murdered them two girls.

“She could have prevented that child having to go through that terrible ordeal but she chose not to say anything and was still ranting and raving about his innocence.

“It took 32 years, a change in the law, a Court of Appeal decision and a nine-week trial at the Old Bailey for us two families to get justice – 32 years of pure fighting, never losing hope.

“Not once in them 32 years did this wicked woman own up to what she had done.

“She is a pathological liar. She really could have prevented what happened to the other little girl in 1990 but, like the monster, she didn’t have an ounce of conscience in her.

Russell Bishop

“She was besotted and obsessed with Bishop. And the vile News of the World was only interested in in getting their story – and she was only interested in keeping her man and a quick payday!

“That woman stood in court and spoke: ‘Nobody knows how I feel. No one would want to go through the life that I had. No one would want to walk in my shoes.’

“Well, how would she have felt walking in my shoes for the 23 hours I spent searching for my daughter and her friend – and I was seven months’ pregnant at the time as well, climbing trees and fences, searching frantically for them.

“She definitely wouldn’t have wanted to have walked in my shoes, would she?

“All we ever wanted was justice but we suffered for the next 32 years before we finally got it.

Murder victims Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway

“Karen was a happy go lucky little girl, full of life and always laughing and joking. She had the biggest smile imaginable.

“She was a Liverpool supporter who loved to sing and dance and play outside with her friends, one of them being Nicky, and her little sister Lyndsey, aged nearly six years.

“She was so happy to have her bedroom decorated out in Liverpool colours, red and white. Her brother Darren, who was nearly 12, was her little protector and has never got over losing his sister.

“We were a happy family and we loved our children. Karen was so looking forward to having a new brother or sister.

“I was only two months away from giving birth when she died but the flame in our lives went out on the 10th of October 1986 when our beautiful Karen and her friend Nicky were found murdered in the Wild Park, in Brighton, local to where we lived.

“My late husband Lee, God rest his soul, had to hear about the death of his beautiful little girl on the radio – what a shocking thing for him to have to go through miles away up the north.

“Saturday morning at 9.35am, my husband Lee had to go to Brighton Mortuary to identify his beautiful daughter’s dead body.

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

“He went in that place the man I loved and adored – a wonderful, kind caring father to our children – and came out of that place a stranger, a different person.

“We had lost him. He was never the same again. He was a broken man and we never got him back.

“To add to our agony, pain and suffering was the fact our precious little girl had to lay on a cold mortuary slab for 16 weeks and 5 days before we were allowed to bury her.

“Did the wicked Jennifer Johnson ever worry about that? Did she hell as like. She was too busy with the Bishop family plotting how to get the monster off the double murder charge, which she eventually did without a care in the world for both families.

“Our lives were completely shattered by the loss of our beautiful daughter Karen. All we have now is my memories and her picture in a frame.

“Thirty-two years x 365 days of waking up and feeling the horror and loss of my Karen – the loneliness and emptiness I feel that she was deprived of growing up with us and her brothers and sisters.

Jennie Johnson, left, and Sylvia Bishop at Brighton police station in August 1989

“That’s a whole lot of unnecessary suffering. The whole lot of these so-called followers who conspired to get Bishop off a double murder of two innocent little children are despicable, evil and wicked people.

“They know who they are and they have blood on their hands. They should all be rounded up and put on trial.

“For some moments in life, there are simply no words to describe the pain within us.

“I would like to thank the CPS and police for bringing this case to court.

“A special thank you to Trevor Bates and Gary Pattison, from Sussex Police, for all your hard work on the 2018 trial and this trial, for your kind and caring ways you have shown to our families each day at court. You are both a credit to Sussex Police.

“A huge thank you to our brilliant, amazing barrister Alison Morgan for prosecuting this very difficult case and for having ‘true grit’. You nailed the truth.

“Thank you to the jury for coming to the right decision. Thank you to the Honourable Mr Justice Fraser who presided over the trial.

Michelle Johnson on the bench in Wild Park which commemorates her daughter Karen and her friend Nicola

“I want to thank my special friends Sarah and Blue and Chris who have been constantly supportive to me and my family over the last five years.

“Also, thanks to my taxi driver Hassan for driving me the 121-mile round trip every day to Lewes Crown Court – such a lovely man.

“Most of all, I would like to thank my beautiful family for all the love and support you have given me over the last 35 years – so sad that my daughter Kimberley and son Rikki never got to meet their beautiful sister Karen.

“They were robbed of their beautiful sister by a murdering psychopathic paedophile Russell Bishop and a pathological liar Jennifer Johnson

“My daughter Lyndsey I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart for being my absolute rock during two difficult court cases and always being there for me. Without her love and support, I would not have got to where I am now.”

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