JURORS in the trial of Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop’s ex-girlfriend have retired to consider their verdicts.

Jennifer Johnson, 55, is accused of having lied “prolifically” and to have “significantly undermined” Bishop’s 1987 trial.

She is accused of telling “lies that were important”, including about a crucial piece of evidence – a sweatshirt found near the scene of the murders.

Johnson has been on trial at Lewes Crown Court after denying perjury and perverting the course of justice.

She says she acted under duress while giving evidence at the trial more than 30 years ago.

Jenny Johnson

Jenny Johnson

On Thursday, after more than three weeks of evidence, the jury retired to consider its verdicts in the case.

Schoolgirls Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows were found sexually assaulted and strangled in a woodland den in Brighton in October 1986.

Bishop was first tried for the murders of the nine-year-olds in 1987 but was acquitted.

It was not until 2018 that he was convicted of the killings and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told Johnson’s trial that the defendant lied about whether the Pinto sweatshirt belonged to Bishop and that her evidence “significantly undermined” the trial.

Giving evidence in her defence, Johnson tearfully told the court she “had no choice” but to lie.

She had originally told police the sweatshirt belonged to Bishop, the court heard, but later asked if she could change her story and told the court he had warned her to do so.

Chris Henley QC, for the defence, asked Johnson how she felt about his threats.

She said: “I was upset, angry and annoyed because I knew what the consequences would be.”

Johnson said she felt “intimidated and frightened” by Bishop’s family.

Summing up the case to the jury, Mr Justice Fraser said Johnson was “infatuated” with Bishop but the relationship had been “problematic”.

He added: “The defendant says she was subject to threats of death or serious injury.

“It was because of these threats, she says, that she acted as she did.

“She said she was in a controlling and coercive relationship with him.

“She said every time she visited Russell Bishop in prison, he said she would have to change her statement or he would find and kill her.”

Mr Justice Fraser reminded jurors that in reaching a verdict they must be sure Johnson “genuinely and reasonably” believed she or her family were in “immediate” danger of being killed or seriously injured.