The jumper that finally nailed the Babes in the Wood killer
10th December 2018

The billion-to-one jumper: How DNA advances nailed Babes In The Wood killer Russell Bishop 32 years after he attacked two defenceless schoolgirls

  • Police enlisted same team who helped convict Stephen Lawrence’s killers
  • Case remained under constant review with breakthrough coming in 2005 
  • Sussex Police cold case review team took another look after DNA advances 

To make sure Russell Bishop did not get away with murder again, police enlisted the help of the same cold case forensics team who helped convict Stephen Lawrence’s killers.

After the paedophile walked free in 1987 the case remained under constant review and the real breakthrough came in 2005 when the double jeopardy law was abolished.

The Sussex Police cold case review team then decided to take another look at the evidence in light of advances in DNA testing which had taken place in the intervening years.

Forensic experts used the latest techniques to link a jumper found not far from the girls’ bodies to Bishop and the killings

Eurofins Forensic Services Ltd was engaged and senior scientific advisor Roy Green was asked in August 2012 to inspect the original exhibits taken in the lead-up to the first trial which had been ‘locked in place and time’.

In December of the following year a framework was agreed to review the fibres, paint, hair and DNA evidence.

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It was agreed that all DNA work was to be subjected to DNA-17 testing which was brand new and considered to be the most sensitive technique available.

Mr Green found 11 fibres on the Pinto matching those taken from a sock in Bishop’s home.

To try to determine whether there was any support for the assertion Bishop had actually worn the Pinto, experts looked at tapings taken from the inside and outside of the jumper

A picture of DNA tapings from Karen Hadaway which was shown in the Bishop court case

Mr Green also confirmed there to be 26 fibres matching another jumper as well as a further eight matching a second different pullover taken from the paedophile’s home.

Russell Bishop (pictured in prison in recent years) has been found guilty of the murders

He found 13 fibres on the Pinto matching those of Karen’s green sweatshirt and was also able to confirm the presence of at least four that matched fibres from Nicola’s pink jumper.

On the girls’ clothing Mr Green confirmed that there was a single fibre matching the Pinto on tapings taken from Karen’s t-shirt and skirt during the post mortem examinations.

He also confirmed on other tapings from the t-shirt a total of 34 matching fibres from the Pinto, as well as 11 from her skirt, five from her underwear and at least 12 on her green sweatshirt.

On Nicola’s clothing at least 13 fibres found on her pink jumper matched fibres from the Pinto in addition to three on her skirt and one on her underwear. 

A photo issued of a bag containing arm DNA tapings from Karen Hadaway, shown in the case

The graves of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows in the City Cemetery in Brighton, in January

In an attempt to determine whether there was any support for the assertion Bishop had actually worn the Pinto, experts looked at tapings taken from the inside and outside of the jumper.

Another one-in-a-billion hit on a taping taken from the outside of the Pinto matched Bishop’s DNA whilst another taping from the outside back of the jumper indicated Bishop could have contributed to the sample.

Samples matching Bishop and his long-term partner were also recovered from the inside of the garment whilst four hairs recovered from it were also found to match his DNA sample.

Mr Green also examined tapings that were taken from Karen and used to recover fibres and other debris from exposed areas of the skin.

Russell Bishop, pictured (left) in prison and (right) around the time of the murders, was convicted today, 32 years after the girls were found dead

The girls were found dead in this ‘den’ in undergrowth in Wild Park in Brighton (pictured in an undated handout photo from Sussex Police) after the going missing the previous night 

Each was searched for the presence of skin flakes and submitted for DNA-17 testing.

One taken from Karen’s left forearm produced a one-in-a-billion match with Bishop.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the jury: ‘The science alone is quite simply so overwhelming as to prove not only that this defendant wore the Pinto, but also that the Pinto was worn by him when he killed those two girls’.

‘If you are sure about that then this defendant has lied about his links to it and has lied about his involvement in these killings – and that is that,’ he added. 

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