One-in-a-billion DNA match shows man murdered girls in 1986, court told

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A one-in-a-billion DNA match and other “overwhelmingly compelling” evidence shows convicted sex predator Russell Bishop murdered two nine-year-old girls 32 years ago, a jury was told.

Former roofer Bishop, 52, is on trial for the second time for sexually assaulting and strangling Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway on October 9 1986.

The girls were found dead in a woodland den in Wild Park on the South Downs the day after they went missing from their Brighton homes.

Bishop was cleared of their murders in 1987 but was ordered to stand trial again by the Court of Appeal in light of new evidence following advances in DNA testing.

Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows
Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows (PA)

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the jury there was a “wealth of evidence to show this man, Russell Bishop, to the exclusion of anyone else in the world, is guilty of the murder of those two little girls 32 years ago”.

“There is powerful evidence of a physical connection between him and those girls; the person who wore the discarded Pinto sweatshirt was the killer and it was the defendant who wore it.”

That evidence included the transfer of fibres, paint comparisons and DNA, he said.

Mr Altman went on: “We say you can conclude that the Pinto sweatshirt obviously belonged to him , that it came into recent contact with the girls’ clothing and that recent contact can only have been at the time of their murder.”

More evidence came from a previously unexamined taping from Karen’s left forearm, which provided a one in a billion DNA match to Bishop, jurors were told.

The prosecutor also highlighted the similarities between the murders and the kidnap, sex assault and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl from Brighton three years later, which Bishop was found to have committed.

Circumstantial evidence further pointed the “finger of guilt firmly in this man’s direction”, Mr Altman said.

He was seen in Wild Park at the time and later described details about the murder scene that could only have come from the killer, it is claimed.

Mr Altman noted contradictions and admitted lies in Bishop’s accounts.

Concluding his opening, he said: “It is, say the prosecution, the overwhelmingly compelling and powerful nature of all the evidence in this case that can make you sure of this defendant’s guilt of these murders.”

Bishop, formerly from Brighton, East Sussex, has denied two charges of murder.

The Old Bailey trial was adjourned for the day.

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