Russell Bishop trial: Murder accused 'a cowardly paedophile'

Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows Image copyright PA
Image caption Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows went missing after they had gone out to play

The man accused of murdering two schoolgirls in woodland was a coward for refusing to face cross-examination, the prosecutor has told his trial.

Russell Bishop, 52, denies sexually assaulting and strangling nine-year-olds Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in Brighton's Wild Park in 1986.

Judge Mr Justice Sweeney told jurors at the Old Bailey that Mr Bishop had "chosen not to attend" on Tuesday.

But he said they must not regard it as giving assistance to the prosecution.

Bishop, formerly of Brighton, who is on trial for the second time having been acquitted of the girls' murder in 1987, denies two counts of murder.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Brian Altman QC told jurors Bishop had killed Nicola and Karen for his own "sexual gratification".

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Russell Bishop was acquitted of the murders in 1987 and is on trial for a second time

The court has heard that within three years of his acquittal, Bishop was jailed for life for the kidnap, sexual assault and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl.

Mr Altman told jurors he had shown his "true colours" during the current trial.

He said: "The defendant chose to give evidence but within a relatively short time of my beginning my cross-examination of him, he refused to return after the mid-morning break.

"During that time you may conclude he showed you his true colours - an abusive, aggressive, controlling man.

"He is a coward to refuse to continue his evidence before you and he is a cowardly paedophile who thinks nothing of attacking a seven-year-old child."

Image copyright Sussex Police/PA
Image caption The girls' bodies were found in a woodland den in Wild Park near Brighton

Mr Altman said the defendant had nothing to explain the "multiple scientific findings" and instead put Nicola's father Barrie Fellows through the ordeal of being accused of the killings.

"What you have seen unfolding before your eyes is the creation of a smokescreen in the hope he gets away with murder for the second time," he added.

The trial continues.

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