Babes in the Wood child killer Russell Bishop dies from cancer aged 55

21 January 2022, 10:39 | Updated: 21 January 2022, 13:32

By Sophie Barnett

"Babes in the Wood" child killer Russell Bishop has died of cancer aged 55 just four years after finally facing justice for murdering two schoolgirls in Brighton.

The "predatory paedophile" passed away in hospital on Thursday night after being rushed there from top security HMP Frankland, Co Durham. 

Bishop was given weeks to live in October after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

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

Bishop was jailed for life in 2018 for the murders of Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in Brighton in 1986.

The 20-year-old murdered the two girls, both aged nine, in a woodland den, protesting his innocence throughout the investigation.

Sue Eismann, mother of Nicola Fellows, with her brother in law Nigel Heffron, by the grave of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows in Brighton.
Sue Eismann, mother of Nicola Fellows, with her brother in law Nigel Heffron, by the grave of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows in Brighton. Picture: Alamy

In 1987 he was cleared of their murders, but within three years kidnapped another girl and left her for dead.

The 55-year-old managed to evade justice for 32 years but his conviction was secured thanks to the overturning of double jeopardy laws.

As he was being sentenced, Bishop was described by judge Justice Sweeney as a "predatory paedophile" who had shown no remorse.

"The terror that each girl must have suffered in their final moments is unimaginable," the judge said.

It was not until a DNA breakthrough was made in the case, that Bishop was told he would face a new trial over their killings, under the double jeopardy law.

A sweatshirt discarded on his route home linked him to the scene while a sample from Karen's left forearm revealed a "one in a billion" DNA match, his second trial was told.

The two nine-year-old girls were killed in Brighton 32 years ago.
The two nine-year-old girls were killed in Brighton 32 years ago. Picture: Alamy

In a victim impact statement Nicola's mother, Sue Eismann, said her world "turned upside down" after Bishop killed her daughter.

"I have lived with the pain, the loss and sheer hate towards him for what he had done for the last 32 years," she said.

"Russell Bishop is a horrible, wicked man. No child is safe if he is allowed to be free."

Detective Superintendent Jeff Riley, of Sussex Police, described Bishop as a "truly wicked man" following his sentencing.

"Bishop will hopefully spend the remainder of his life behind bars where he truly belongs and never darken the streets of Brighton again," he said.

"This significant term of imprisonment will of course never make up for the loss of Karen and Nicola but I hope their families will take some comfort from it."