Jury retires in trial of Russell Bishop’s ex Jennifer Johnson Brighton News

JURORS in the trial of Babes in the Wood, Russell Bishop’s ex-girlfriend, retired to consider their verdicts.

Jennifer Johnson, 55, is accused of lying “prolifically” and “considerably undermining” Bishop’s 1987 trial.

She is accused of telling “important lies”, including over crucial evidence – a sweatshirt found near the scene of the murders.

Johnson was tried at Lewes Crown Court after denying perjury and perverting the course of justice.

She says she acted under duress when testifying at trial more than 30 years ago.

Jenny johnson

Jenny johnson

On Thursday, after more than three weeks of evidence, the jury retired to consider its verdicts in the case.

Schoolgirls Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows were found sexually assaulted and strangled in a wooded den in Brighton in October 1986.

Bishop was first tried for the murders of the nine-year-old children in 1987, but was acquitted.

It wasn’t until 2018 that he was convicted of the murders and was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 36 years.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said at Johnson’s trial that the accused lied about whether the Pinto sweatshirt belonged to Bishop and that his testimony “significantly undermined” the trial.

Presenting evidence in her defense, Johnson tearfully told the court she “had no choice” but to lie.

She initially told police the sweatshirt belonged to Bishop, the court heard, but then asked if she could change her story and told the court he warned her to do so.

Chris Henley QC, for the defense, asked Johnson what she thought of his threats.

She said: “I was upset, angry and annoyed because I knew what the consequences would be.”

Johnson said she felt “intimidated and scared” by Bishop’s family.

Summing up the case to the jury, Justice Fraser said Johnson was “smitten” with Bishop but the relationship had been “problematic”.

He added: “The defendant says she has been subjected to threats of death or serious injury.

“It was because of these threats,” she said, “that she acted the way she did.

“She said she had a controlling and coercive relationship with him.

“She said every time she visited Russell Bishop in jail he said she would have to change her statement or he would find her and kill her.”

Justice Fraser reminded jurors that in order to reach a verdict, they must be satisfied that Johnson “genuinely and reasonably” believed that she or her family were in “immediate” danger of being killed or seriously injured.

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This notice was published: 2021-05-14 05:48:13