THE MOTHER of Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop may have abused his girlfriend for speaking to the police about the case, a court heard.

Jennifer Johnson, 55, is on trial for perverting the course of justice over the investigation and murder trial in Brighton.

She was the girlfriend of killer Russell Bishop who murdered nine-year-olds Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows in Wild Park in October 1986.

It is claimed she changed her story about a blue Pinto sweatshirt which was found abandoned which linked Bishop to the crime scene.

The Argus: The scene in Wild Park in 1986 when the girls' bodies were foundThe scene in Wild Park in 1986 when the girls' bodies were found

Bishop was acquitted after his first trial at Lewes Crown Court in 1987, but was jailed for life over the kidnap and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl in Whitehawk in 1990.

He was convicted over the Babes in the Wood killings in 2018.

Johnson is on trial at Lewes Crown Court for changing her story about the sweatshirt.

The Argus: Lewes Crown CourtLewes Crown Court

Former detective Barry Evans told a jury that Johnson identified the clothing straight away.

He said: “Her opening remark was ‘Oh, you’ve brought Russell’s jumper back’.

“I was under the misapprehension that she was thinking this was one we had previously taken.

The Argus: The blue Pinto sweatshirt linked Bishop to the crime sceneThe blue Pinto sweatshirt linked Bishop to the crime scene

“I said ‘This isn’t one of those that we took away’.

“She said ‘Where did you get it from then’.

“I didn’t reply to that but asked her ‘Is it Russell’s’.

“She said ‘Yes, he’s got one exactly like it’.”

“I realised at that point, this was something a bit more significant,” he told the court.

The Argus: Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop pictured in the 1980sBabes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop pictured in the 1980s

When Bishop was tried for the Babes in the Wood murders of nine-year-olds Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows in 1987, Johnson said Bishop had never owned the sweatshirt and denied making a statement to police.

He was finally convicted of the murders after new scientific evidence linking him to the sweatshirt ended in a double jeopardy trial.

The Argus: Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway were murdered in BrightonNicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway were murdered in Brighton

Ms Johnson had three children with Bishop, the court heard. She has admitted lying under oath.

The court heard she will tell the jury Bishop and his family terrorised her into changing her story.

Chris Henley QC for the defence asked Mr Evans if he remembered Bishop’s mother Sylvia arriving at the house while he was taking a statement from Ms Johnson.

The Argus: Russell Bishop's mother Sylvia Bishop outside Lewes Crown Court in 1987Russell Bishop's mother Sylvia Bishop outside Lewes Crown Court in 1987

“When Sylvia Bishop discovered you were taking a statement, she became angry and abusive,” Mr Henley said.

“No, not to me,” the former detective said.

“As far as I was aware she was not aware we were taking a statement.”

Mr Henley asked if Sylvia Bishop “tore into Jennifer Johnson”.

“She was demanding to know what she had said and why she said it,” Mr Henley said.

“I don’t understand that.

“We hadn’t told her why we were there so I don’t know why she would say that,” the former detective said.

Mum-of-four Jenny Johnson, 55, of Saunders Park View, Brighton, denies perjury and perverting the course of justice.

The trial at Lewes Crown Court continues.

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