THE ashes of Babes in the Wood murderer Russell Bishop must never come back to Brighton, say the victims' families.

Relatives of schoolgirls Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows voiced their concerns after Bishop's death on Thursday.

Journalist Paul Cheston, the Evening Standard court reporter who covered the entirety of the case from 1987, said the families knew it was out of their hands but were adamant the killer's remains should not be returned to the city.

Paul, who lives in Brighton, went on to write a book about the case from the perspective of the murdered girls' families and worked closely with them.

He said: "There is, unquestionably, a very special place in hell for Russell Bishop.

"The agony and the pain this man has put two families, and extended families and indeed the whole of Brighton, through for well over 35 years, is more than anyone can comprehend."

Throughout Bishop's first trial and his acquittals, his trial for the attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl and then, 31 years on his retrial for the murders of Karen and Nicola, Paul was in the courts, reporting on each hearing.

He created close relationships with Karen and Nicola's parents and family members and, on Friday, Nicola's uncle Nigel Heffron called him upon hearing the news of Bishop's death from cancer.

Paul said: "He called me to tell me the news and we had a chat.

"The family is very concerned that the ashes don't come back to Brighton. Apparently there's going to be a cremation in Durham where he's been in prison.

"But obviously his ashes will be in the care of his family and his family have always lived in Brighton and those who are still alive still do.

"So, yes they are concerned about that but it's out of their hands."

Despite the Bishop family reportedly "disowning" the killer following his conviction for the assault and attempted murder of the seven-year-old in 1990, his ashes will ultimately be returned to them.

Bishop, who was one of five brothers, was always his mother Sylvia's favourite, Paul said.

The journalist recalled the "bedlam" that broke out at Bishop's acquittal for the Babes in the Wood murders in 1987.

Failings by police, forensics and the prosecution meant the jury found him not guilty of the killings in Wild Park, Moulsecoomb.

He said: "The moment the jury returned the not guilty verdict at Lewes in 1987, that was still the most stunning piece of court theatre I have ever seen, and I have been a court reporter for 23 years. I've been in court every day of my working life, but this remains the number one moment.

"So, the jury foreman said 'not guilty' for the first of the two girls' murders and one of the brothers did a swallow dive into the dock to try and hug Russell.

"Absolute pandemonium broke out and there was screaming and shouting, one of the other brothers ran outside and bellowed 'not guilty' at all the cameras.

"There was absolute bedlam in the court. The second not guilty verdict was drowned out completely."

Paul said it was "heartbreaking" to watch the grieving families looking down at the scene.

He said: "When you contrast it with the guilty verdict at the Old Bailey in 2018, the two families were sat there with utter respect for the process. It was a stark contrast to the savage outburst 31 years before."

Paul described Bishop as "egotistical" and said that he put Nicola and Karen's families through "agony".

He said: "Even on his deathbed he refused to give the still-grieving parents of his victims the solace of admitting what he did.

"He put those people through more agony than anyone can comprehend.

"Their only thought now is that his ashes never come back to Brighton."

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