The man cleared of two of Britain’s most infamous unsolved murders – but convicted of the attempted killing of a seven-year-old girl – could be released from jail as early as next year.

In 1987 Russell Bishop was cleared of murdering nineyear- old friends Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows in Wild Park, Brighton – a case dubbed the “Babes in the Wood” murders.

In 1990 he was convicted of the attempted murder, kidnap and indecent assault of a girl from Whitehawk, Brighton, at Devil’s Dyke.

In court in 1990 police said they felt Bishop, then 33 and from Brighton, had been wrongly acquitted of the Wild Park murders.

Now the families of the strangled girls hope to present a petition to the Home Secretary calling for Bishop never to be released.

Nigel Heffron, Nicola’s uncle said: “If Bishop is released then he will offend again.”

The Argus:

So far more than 3,500 have signed the petition calling for Bishop to remain in jail. It will remain online until a week before the 27th anniversary of their deaths.

Then the family will gather in Wild Park, where they will present the petition to the public and, hopefully, MPs.

They would like Simon Kirby, MP for Kemptown, and Jeremy Wright, Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation, to attend.

They will be inviting people to sign it.

Karen and Nicola, from Moulsecoomb, Brighton, vanished on October 9 and their bodies were found a day later on October 10.

Mr Heffron said he believed Bishop was the longest-serving prisoner in the UK who had been convicted of attempted murder – but he said other children would be at risk if he was freed.

The 59-year-old, from Whitehawk, continued: “I will never forget Nicky and Karen – the search for justice has dictated our lives.

“We remember them every single day.

“Nicky’s mother lost the chance to have a grandchild and she sometimes still sets the table for her.

“Twenty-seven years on it is still hard.

“Russell Bishop is a violent man and if he is released he will offend again.

“I also want other little girls to be safe.”

Sign the petition at GB/petitions/russell-bishopshould- spend-the-rest-of-hislife- in-prison You can also share your views on why Bishop should not be released, as these will be added to the petition.

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