Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Friday, 15 September 2006 14:15 UK

New 'babes in wood' case rejected

Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows
Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows' killer has never been found

The man cleared of strangling two schoolgirls in Brighton 20 years ago will not face a fresh prosecution.

The bodies of Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway, who were both aged nine, were found in Wild Park, in a case dubbed the "Babes in the Wood".

Sussex Police believe they do not have enough evidence to prosecute Russell Bishop, who was cleared in 1986.

New so-called double jeopardy laws allow suspects who have been acquitted to be tried for a second time.

After the law was amended, detectives began looking for new evidence to link roofer Russell Bishop to the murders.

He is serving a life sentence for kidnapping and attempting to murder another girl from Brighton whom he indecently assaulted.

Unsolved case

As part of the review, scientists re-examined a sweatshirt, thought to belong to Bishop, found near the crime scene.

But BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said he understood that police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) agreed that the scientific findings did not amount to "genuinely new evidence" - as required under the new laws to mount a fresh prosecution.

Sussex Police's Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo said the murders remained an unsolved case.

Russell Bishop (Elstree VT)

Mr Yeo said: "We have recently carried out an extensive review... and are satisfied that there is insufficient [evidence] to meet the necessary evidential standard required to formally seek the opinion of the CPS in relation to any possible suspects.

"As with any unsolved case we remain anxious for any further evidence and will regularly review what we have."

Relatives of the girls claim there is other significant new material and are considering bringing a private prosecution instead.

Nigel Heffron, Nicola Fellows' uncle, said: "These two girls lie in a grave in Brighton and have not received justice. That's not fair, that's not right, that's not proper."

Earlier this week, Billy Dunlop became the first person to be convicted under the double jeopardy law when he pleaded guilty to murdering a woman in Teesside.

Dunlop, 42, was formally acquitted in 1991 of his former girlfriend Julie Hogg's murder after two juries failed to reach a verdict - but he later confessed to the killing while in prison for another offence.

A retrial was brought after Ms Hogg's mother, Ann Ming, campaigned for a review of double jeopardy laws.

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See the reaction of Nicola Fellows' uncle Nigel Heffron

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