No one has held a gun to a woman’s head to make her lie to help a child killer, a jury said.
Jennifer Johnson, 55, has been charged with perjury and misuse of the course of justice in the initial investigation into the Babes in the Wood murders in Brighton.
Child killer Russell Bishop’s ex-partner was so engrossed in him that she told lies about lies in a failed attempt to keep him out of jail.
Bishop murdered Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway, 9, at Brighton’s Wild Park in October 1986.
At Lewes Crown Court, Alison Morgan QC said Johnson is part of the Bishop team.
The mother of four denies perjury and perverts the course of justice.
Ms Johnson told the court she was terrified of lying by Bishop and his family.
Ms Morgan told the jury in her closing remarks: “She was part of the Bishop team, not a victim.”
Bishop murdered Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in 1986 in an affair known as Babes in the Wood.
The former Brighton roofer was freed after Johnson lied under oath during his first trial in 1987.
The jury heard Ms Johnson admitted to changing her story on the witness stand after telling police that a sweatshirt that linked him to the murders belonged to Bishop.
He was released and attacked another Whitehawk girl three years later.
Bishop was serving a life sentence for the girl’s attempted murder in 1990 when new DNA techniques forced a new double-sentence trial in 2018.
He was jailed for life with a minimum of 36 years in 2019.
Alison Morgan told the jury Johnson lied easily and did not admit to changing his story on the witness stand until after the retrial.
“She knew from the start,” Ms. Morgan said.
“For 35 years, she knew the truth about this garment. She said she was sorry, but never once in all these years has she come forward. She never told the truth.
The jury was told they had to decide whether Ms Johnson was forced to lie in a signed and sworn witness statement in court against her will.
“No one has a gun over their heads,” said Morgan. “No one said that I will kill you if you don’t sign this, you will die tomorrow if you don’t sign it.”
Ms Morgan said a doctor who treated her described Ms Johnson as confident, assertive and tough.
“She is a resourceful, energetic and strong woman,” said Morgan.
Jennifer Johnson, of Saunders Park View, Brighton, denies perverting the course of justice and perjury.
The Lewes Crown Court trial continues.
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This notice was published: 2021-05-11 13:58:39