Published: 17:26, 17 May 2021
| Updated: 18:30, 17 May 2021
The families of murdered schoolgirls Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows say Jennifer Johnson must “pay her price” for her “wicked lies”.
Jennifer Johnson, the ex-girlfriend of Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop, was found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice on Monday.
The verdicts come more than 30 years after Bishop’s acquittal at his 1987 trial, when he was accused of killing nine-year-olds Karen and Nicola.
During the ensuing decades, the girls’ families faced a heartbreaking wait for justice and Bishop went on to attack again.
It was not until 2018 that Bishop was convicted of their killings and jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years.
Over the last few weeks, Johnson told a jury she had acted under duress and “had no choice” but to lie during the 1987 trial, but was found guilty by majority verdicts at Lewes Crown Court.
Lorna Heffron, Nicola’s cousin, faced Johnson in court as she delivered an emotional statement.
Struggling through tears, she said that “Nicky” should be remembered for being “smiling, happy, full of life, cheeky and telling jokes”.
She added: “Johnson played a huge part in helping to blur the lines of Bishop’s first trial by her devious actions of perjury.
“She had plenty of opportunity to tell the truth back then and during the past three decades.
“It was in her gift to tell the truth, but she chose to lie.”
Johnson was remanded in custody ahead of her sentencing on Wednesday, when she faces the possibility of an immediate prison term.
Ms Heffron added: “Russell Bishop will never be freed from prison – he will die where he belongs, behind bars.
“His ex-lover Jennifer Johnson must also pay her price for the part she played in the miscarriage of justice.
“Her prolific and devious lies have impacted us all.”
Justice has finally been served on someone who thought she was untouchable
Michelle Hadaway, Karen’s mother, spoke of the impact Johnson’s evidence had in 1987 and the sight of seeing Bishop acquitted.
She told reporters: “Not only had we lost our daughters, the evil monster who had killed them walked free.
“The wicked lies this woman told had very serious consequences, because three years later, on the anniversary of Karen and Nicola’s funeral, that evil man struck again.
“It took 32 long years for two families to get justice, 32 years of pure fighting, never losing hope, not once in all those years did this wicked woman own up to what she had done.”
Standing alongside her, Ms Heffron said: “The wheels of justice are large and they turn incredibly slowly.
“Justice has finally been served on someone who thought she was untouchable.”
Chief Superintendent Nick May, from Sussex Police, said: “As the prosecutor made clear, those lies mattered.
“They undermined a key part of the prosecution case in 1987, specifically relating to the sweatshirt owned by Russell Bishop and which was at the centre of the trials in both 1987 and 2018.
“Our thoughts remain with all those affected by the tragic events of 1986 and 1990. None of us will ever fully understand what they have been through.”