A WICKED child killer responsible for one of Sussex's longest-running murder inquiries has died in prison.

Russell Bishop died in hospital on Thursday evening - just two hours after being rushed there from top security HMP Frankland.

The 55-year-old sexually assaulted and strangled nine-year-olds Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in October 1986 but escaped justice for 32 years.

He is reported to have died alone watched over only by a pair a pair of prison officers.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “HMP Frankland prisoner Russell Bishop died in hospital on January 20. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.”

It is understood Bishop had cancer.

Bishop was 20 when he sexually assaulted and strangled the girls in a woodland den in Brighton.

He was cleared of their murders on December 10 1987 but within three years went on to kidnap, molest and throttle a seven-year-old girl, leaving her for dead at Devils Dyke.

While serving life for attempted murder, Bishop was ordered to face a fresh trial under the double jeopardy law, in light of a DNA breakthrough.

Bishop’s conviction brought to an end a long fight for justice for the two victims’ families.

A Pinto sweatshirt discarded on Bishop’s route home was linked to the defendant by DNA, while fibre, paint and ivy transfers placed it at the scene.

Tests on a sample from Karen’s left forearm also revealed a “one in a billion” DNA match to Bishop.

Bishop responded by trying to cast suspicion on Nicola’s devastated father Barrie.

He tailored his evidence to counter the new forensic evidence, claiming to have touched the bodies to feel for a pulse after they were found by two teenagers.

But jurors saw through the web of lies and convicted Bishop on the “overwhelming” evidence on the 31st anniversary of his acquittal.

Bishop refused to attend court for his sentencing at the Old Bailey.

In rare scenes, jurors embraced family members outside court after the hearing.

Sentencing Bishop, Mr Justice Sweeney said: “I have no doubt that you were a predatory paedophile.

“The terror that each girl must have suffered in their final moments is unimaginable.”

At the time Karen’s mother Michelle Hadaway branded Bishop an “evil monster”.

While Sue Eismann, Nicola’s mother, said he was a “horrible, wicked man.”

Barrie Fellows said the loss of Nicola destroyed his relationship with his wife, saying it “tore us apart”.

Their son Jonathan, who died just weeks before the second trial, was “riddled with guilt” that he was not able to look after her as a big brother should, he added.