TWO schoolgirls were murdered in woodlands for a defendant’s own gratification, a court has heard.

Russell Bishop is on trial at the Old Bailey in London, accused of strangling nine-year-old girls Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows at Wild Park in Brighton in October 1986.

Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, has opened the case on the second day of Bishop’s trial at the Old Bailey in London, and said Bishop’s motive was “sexual and paedophilic”.

He said the killings led to the “largest and longest running” inquiry in Sussex Police’s history, and told the jury that Bishop was previously acquitted at Lewes Crown Court in 1987.

Read more: Russell Bishop murder trial: everything said by the prosecution on morning of day 1

But after advances in DNA technology, Bishop’s acquittal was quashed, allowing prosecutors to put him on trial again.

Mr Altman said: “The killings were entirely intentional and they were carried out in the woods by a man who sexually assaulted them for his own gratification.

“That man was this defendant, Russell Bishop.”

The prosecutor said Bishop was later convicted of trying to kill another girl who he snatched in Whitehawk in February 1990. She survived and was able to identify him, so he was convicted for attempted murder, kidnap,and indecent assault in December that year.

Mr Altman told the jury there were similarities to the 1990 case, but said there was also “compelling” evidence from the time.

He said: “Evidence of the re-evaluation of the science available at the time of the original trial and new science, we suggest, proves that Russell Bishop, was, to the exclusion of anyone else responsible for the murders of the two girls.

“However, the case against him does not only rely on scientific evidence; it relies on it within the context of the story of the case as a whole, including the defendant’s movements, his actions and what he had to say to the police, including, as you will see, significant lies he told at the time.

“The killing of these two girls clearly has the most obvious motive. Plainly the main, if not the only, motive here was sexual and paedophilic.”

The prosecutor said the jury will be taken to Wild Park in Brighton this week to see the scene where the girls’ bodies were found.

Read more: Russell Bishop murder trial: everything said by the prosecution on morning of day 1