Babes in Wood victim’s uncle’s 7 tragic words after 32-year fight for justice

Seven words captured angry Nigel Heffron’s emotions as he saw Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop finally jailed after 30 years.

Nigel, 64, had vowed to get justice for his niece Nicola Fellows and pal Karen Hadaway – “however long it takes”.

He even got a job as a Parliament tour guide for 18 months so he could lobby the then Home Secretary David Blunkett in person.

The nine-year-olds were murdered by sex monster Bishop in 1986 and he walked free after a bungled trial in 1987.

But last week the killer got a minimum of 36 years – and Nigel and the families finally saw justice. And as he left the Old Bailey the campaigning uncle mouthed: “Job done Nikki. Rest in peace now.”

The sense of relief was overwhelming after the long fight to nail Bishop, 52.

Hospital porter Nigel told the Sunday Mirror he had “waged war” on the Crown Prosecution Service and besieged Lord Blunkett and other MPs with demands for a fresh trial.

But England’s 800-year-old “double jeopardy” law – preventing a suspect being tried twice for the same offence – stood in the way. Even Lord Blunkett, Home Secretary from 2001-2004, said it “allowed extremely dangerous people to walk the streets”.

He writes for the Sunday Mirror today of Nigel’s unwavering campaign: “As a tour guide Nigel was able to have a word with me as well as give me written material. He was pushing at an open door in terms of double jeopardy and I’m just relieved justice has been served.”

Nicola and Karen went missing in Brighton on the evening of October 9, 1986. They were strangled and sexually assaulted and their bodies were found in woods the following day.

Calculating Bishop had joined a search for the girls. But the roofer, then 20, was later arrested and charged.

He was cleared after a series of mistakes by the prosecution at Lewes Crown Court. The blunders allowed him to strike again in 1990.

Bishop snatched a girl of seven off a Brighton street, bundled her into his car boot and drove to a beauty spot. He was jailed for a minimum of 14 years for rape and attempted murder.

Nigel said: “At the 1987 trial both police and the Crown Prosecution Service were useless. They didn’t liaise, yet they kept on saying they were about to produce some damning evidence. They never presented it. So-called expert witnesses looked like amateurs. Despite an apparent cast-iron case he went free with a big smile on his face. It was sickening.”

The trial was told that Bishop’s former common-law wife Jenny Johnson had given a police statement saying a jumper found near the scene was Bishop’s.

But in court she said she’d never seen it before. She now faces a possible perjury investigation.

Meanwhile, Bishop’s girlfriend Marion Stevenson heaped on further pain by claiming after the trial that she had seen Nicola Fellows’ dad Barrie watching a porn film featuring his daughter. She repeated the claims in evidence at this year’s trial. Barrie, 71, says the allegations – wholly unfounded and dismissed after a police probe – ruined his marriage and reputation. Nigel took Nicola’s mum Susan and Karen’s mum Michelle to CPS headquarters in London to demand an apology over errors at the first trial.

But he claims they were given short shrift and escorted off the premises. Nigel added: “Everything changed for me right there. I told them ‘You’ve just declared war on our families. And you’ll regret it’.”

Nigel admits he “borderline harassed” Lord Blunkett in a bid to scrap the double jeopardy law. Change finally came in 2005, but in 2006 the High Court decided there was not enough evidence for a new trial.

It would be another decade before new DNA techniques revealed a one-in-a-billion match for Bishop’s DNA on Karen’s arm – and that his DNA was on the sweatshirt.

In May 2016 police arrested Bishop again in HMP Frankland and in February this year the new trial was ordered. After the conviction, CPS lawyer Nigel Pilkington suggested the result of the 1987 trial could have been “wholly different” if Jenny Johnson had not changed her story about the sweatshirt.

Nicola’s dad Barrie said: “She was going to be the prosecution’s star witness, but changed her story at his trial. It sickens me.

“She had two children with Bishop and went on to have another baby with him after he was acquitted.

“Marion Stevenson was a 16-year-old who was Bishop’s bit on the side.

“They both shared his bed and they were besotted with him. They would do anything for him.”

Nigel, Barrie’s half-brother, added: “If they don’t feel able to charge Marion Stevenson with perjury, we will take out a private prosecution.

“It’s not all over, but for now we can celebrate a massive result.”

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