THE GUILTY verdict follows a ten-week trial at The Old Bailey, where tensions have ran high as the case against Russell Bishop progressed.

It started on October 15, with a jury panel being sworn in before judge Mr Justice Sweeney.

He told the jury members to expect the proceedings to last for up to eights weeks, perhaps longer, but assured them the case would be completed before Christmas.

On the first day, Bishop seemed relaxed as he lounged in the dock and took notes on two pads of A4 paper, accused of killing the girls at Wild Park in Brighton in 1986.

Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, opened the case the next day, and said a light blue Pinto sweatshirt would be a crucial piece of evidence in the case against the 52-year-old defendant.

He said: “After 30 or so years since 1986, it has now given up its secrets and those secrets not only provide scientific links between it and the defendant and his home environment, but also it provides several scientific links to the girls, supporting the prosecution case that this man is guilty of their murders.”

The jury was told about the girls’ backgrounds and their movements on the day they had gone missing, and explained that they were both afraid of the dark.

Mr Altman told the jury that Bishop had told “significant lies”, and had joined the search in a “cynical” attempt to hide the blame from himself.

He 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, say the prosecution, was this defendant, Russell Bishop.”

As the first week went on, Mr Altman outlined what witnesses had seen and heard Bishop say, including how he had intimate knowledge of the crime scene and descriptions of the girls’ injuries.

Then on Thursday, the jury were taken to Wild Park in Brighton to understand the geography of the case, and to see some of the key locations described by witnesses in the case.

At the end of the first week, the jury was told that DNA at the crime scene was a “billion times more likely” to have come from Russell Bishop.

The second week of the trial began with legal wrangling, as the defence made a “bad character application” against Nicola Fellows’ father Barrie.

It was countered by the prosecution who sought to introduce further incriminating evidence against Bishop and also to argue against the defence claim that Barrie was the girls’ killer.

All we could report from the second week was that the trial was delayed because of “legal issues”.

On October 30 Joel Bennathan, defending, launched the defence case as to why they said Russell Bishop was not guilty, pointing the finger of blame at Barrie Fellows instead.

He said the prosecution and police had spent 32 years building a case against the wrong man, accusing Nicola’s father of having a “guilty secret” of being a paedophile abuser of his daughter.

Mr Bennathan also questioned the police handling of exhibits in the 1980s, asking if the correct precautions had been taken.

His statement heightened the tension in court, as it is rare for a defence team to specifically name a suspect they believe committed the murder instead of their client.

It was followed by tearful testimony by the mums of the two girls. Michelle Johnson (formerly Hadaway) spoke first and broke down in tears when she described how her daughter had been found.

“I was just terrified about my little girl. Worried about both them children.” She said.

The next day, Kevin Rowland described finding the girls’ bodies in the den at Wild Park, and held Bishop back from getting any nearer.

Joel Bennathan asked whether Bishop had gone and checked the girls for a pulse. “Absolutely not,” Mr Rowland replied.

For the rest of the third week, prosecution witnesses continued, including former Superintendent David Tomlinson, who led the first investigation, and Bishop’s original police interviews were also read out.

He claimed to have watched Eastenders on the night in question. His changing account of what he had done at the scene where the girls were found was revealed, as was his fear of being treated as the murder suspect.

Police officers continued to appear in the witness box during the fourth week of the trial in early November.

Former Detective Constable Barry Evans denied being violent towards Bishop during questioning.

It was also revealed that some of Bishop’s attempts to find an alibi were false, including claims he had bought cannabis from a dealer, and claims insurance men had seen him at his home in Hollingdean.

Pathologist Dr Nathaniel Cary was called as a witness, and said the girls had died after being strangled.

Crucially he said there was no evidence to suggest that Nicola had been sexually abused in the months before her death, directly disputing the defence claim that Barrie Fellows had recorded his lodger Dougie Judd having sex with Nicola.

The court was told that “emotions ran high” at the first trial in Lewes in 1987, with claims that Dr Anthony Peabody had been pinned against a wall by a police officer at court.

Meanwhile modern day forensic scientist Dr Roy Green told the jury there were strong links between Russell Bishop, his blue Pinto sweatshirt, and the dead girls. He ended the week by explaining the new DNA evidence that pointed to Bishop being the killer.

The fifth week continued with the scientific evidence in the case, this time Dr Louissa Marsh told jurors about links to paint on the blue Pinto sweatshirt and the girls’ clothing.

Then in the sixth week, the prosecution called Barrie Fellows into the witness box to give evidence, preempting the defence.

Mr Fellows broke down in tears after the suggestion that he was involved in the sexual abuse of his daughter by Joel Bennathan QC.

He did say he had given his daughter a “thick ear” on occasion and threatened to cut her fingers off when she had been caught stealing at school.

Meanwhile Dougie Judd told jurors the allegation that he had had sex with Nicola was “total lies”.

Police questioned the pair about the allegations in 2009, but no charges were ever brought.

As the sixth week continued, Brian Altman QC, read damning letters written by Russell Bishop to a 13-year-old girl while he was in prison.

As he read, Bishop reacted angrily in the dock. He said: “It’s not agreed evidence. Stop it right now. I’m not having this s*** or I’m having a retrial.”

Bishop had asked the girl whether she was a virgin, and wrote: “I know how old you are

baby, he he. 16 or 17 more weeks and I will be out up to no good again. I just hope you

can handle it because I’m a man not a boy.”

At the end of the week, Bishop remarkably chose to give evidence in the witness box, something he had refused to do in his first trial.

He told the jury that the police had been “downright nasty” and claimed he had previously been wrongfully arrested in connection with the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1985.

Bishop said he was dyslexic and could not read or write, and had been “wound up in knots” by police, just telling them what they wanted to hear. He also said he was “deeply ashamed” of his 1990 conviction.

He said his home was firebombed after he was acquitted, and had once felt suicidal and driven his children to Beachy Head. “I was living in fear,” he said.

But as the seventh week of the trial began, he did not fare well in the cross examination by Brian Altman QC. He said he committed the 1990 because he was angry and in fear, and said: “I might as well do it.”

The prosecutor asked him about his sexual interest in children, and Bishop became agitated, asking the judge to intervene.

After the morning session, he refused to reenter the witness box for further questioning. Later in the week, Joel Bennathan QC continued to present the defence case that Barrie Fellows was the real killer.

Bishop’s ex-girlfriend Marion Stevenson said she had seen Barrie’s lodger Dougie Judd having sex with Nicola on a pornographic tape being watched by Mr Fellows

But she said Bishop was always lying to her, and saw the defendant hitting and punching his pregnant common law wife Jenny Johnson..

Later she told the court she had been “besotted” with Bishop, and said she had been “scared” about mentioning the alleged pornographic tape to the police on nine previous occasions before her £1,500 interview with the News of the World.

Finally, in the eighth week of the trial, prosecutor Brian Altman QC addressed the jury to sum up the evidence against Russell Bishop.

Bishop refused to attend court for the remainder of the proceedings this week/last week.