Lawyer for man accused of murdering two girls points finger at father

A lawyer for a sex predator accused of murdering two nine-year-old girls has pointed the finger at one of their fathers, saying police spent “32 years building a case against the wrong man”.

Former roofer Russell Bishop is on trial for the second time for the 1986 murders of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows.

The girls were sexually abused and strangled on the South Downs on the outskirts of Brighton in October 1986.

Russell Bishop
Russell Bishop denies two counts of murder (Sussex Police/PA)

In an opening speech, defence lawyer Joel Bennathan QC cast suspicion on Barrie Fellows, Nicola’s father, suggesting he was “complicit” in sexual abuse.

He told jurors at the Old Bailey: “Only one person is on trial here sitting in the dock – Russell Bishop.

“But the law allows a defendant like him to point out facts, ask questions, to the jury that might suggest the possibility that another person exists who may have carried out these awful attacks.

“We will ask questions of witnesses to show that when the girls went missing there was someone very close to them who has no alibi.

“That someone made comments after the killings that are far more incriminating than anything Russell Bishop said. That someone is someone who may actually – unlike Mr Bishop – been able to order Nicola Fellows to meet him in Wild Park.

Russell Bishop
Bishop, pictured in 1988, was originally acquitted of murder in 1987 (PA)

“That someone has a guilty secret – that he has been complicit in the sexual abuse of Nicola Fellows, which shows an interest in paedophilic sex.

“In the end it might mean he could not let Nicola Fellows tell the world what has been happening. That person is her father, Barrie Fellows.”

Mr Bennathan suggested the police had “spent 32 years building a case against the wrong man”.

The trial has heard how Nicola and Karen went missing while out playing together in Wild Park after school.

Following a search by police and volunteers, the girls were found dead in a wooded den near a landmark called Jacobs Ladder the next day.

The Court of Appeal had ordered a fresh trial in light of new DNA evidence after Bishop was cleared of the girls’ murders in 1987.

Some three years after his acquittal, Bishop was convicted of the kidnap, indecent assault and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl at
Devil’s Dyke, also on the South Downs.

Bishop, now aged 52, formerly from Brighton, East Sussex, has denied two charges of murder.

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