The ex-girlfriend of Russell Bishop, the Babes in the Wood killer, has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice and of perjury at his original trial — a move that saw him evade justice for another 30 years.
Jennifer Johnson, 55, was accused of lying “prolifically” which apparently “significantly undermined” the trial and led to Mr Bishop being acquitted of murdering Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows, both schoolgirls.
Johnson said her actions had been a result of being under duress, and that she had “had no choice” but to lie during the original trial.
The lies she told “were important” and some related to a crucial piece of evidence- a sweatshirt found near the scene.
The jury took over 12 hours to reach a verdict and Ms Johnson was pronounced guilty on Monday on one count of perjury and one count of perverting the course of justice.
As the verdicts were delivered, she closed her eyes while families of Bishop’s victims shed tears of relief.
In October 1986, nine-year-olds Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows were discovered sexually assaulted and strangled in a wood in Moulsecoomb, Brighton.
Mr Bishop was first tried for the murders of the schoolgirls in 1987 but was acquitted,a verdict which “caused devastation” for the girls’ families, the jury was told.
He then went on to attack another girl four years later in 1990, “another terrible consequence” of the acquittal.
Finally in 2018, Mr Bishop was convicted of the killings of Karen and Nicola, and was jailed for life. He was sentenced to serve a minimum term of 36 years.
Mr Justice Fraser said that Ms Johnson had been “infatuated” with Mr Bishop but called the relationship “problematic.”
Summing up her case he said: “Earlier in her evidence ... she said she was being treated like a murderer.”
He added: “You must remember that the defendant does admit lying on oath in a crown court trial.”
Libby Clark, Senior Crown Prosecutor, said that Ms Johnson’s lies at the original trial had been a “nightmare” for the prosecution, reported PA.
Ms Clark went on to explain: “It was unfinished business and naturally we’re very pleased that it’s resulted in a successful conclusion: a guilty verdict from the jury.”
The convictions for perjury and perverting the course of justice signify the end of a long road both for the CPS and for the families of Nicola and Karen, she added.
Nicola Fellows’ cousin Lorna Heffron, meanwhile told the court: “Their murders were really like dropping a grenade into both of our families.”
She went on to add: “Jennifer Johnson must also pay her price for the part she played in the miscarriage of justice.
“Her prolific and devious lies have impacted us all.”