Lawyers for a man accused of murdering two nine-year-olds have told jurors one of the girl’s fathers may be to blame.
Russell Bishop, 52, is on trial for a second time charged with killing Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows on the outskirts of Brighton in 1986.
At the Old Bailey, Joel Bennathan QC said police had spent “32 years building a case against the wrong man”.
He said Nicola’s father Barrie had a “guilty secret”, and Mr Bishop, who denies murder, was innocent.
The girls were sexually abused and strangled on the South Downs on the outskirts of Brighton in October 1986.
During his opening speech at the Old Bailey, defence lawyer Mr Bennathan said: “Only one person is on trial here sitting in the dock – Russell Bishop.
“But the law allows a defendant like him to point out facts, ask questions, to the jury that might suggest the possibility that another person exists who may have carried out these awful attacks.
“We will ask questions of witnesses to show that when the girls went missing there was someone very close to them who has no alibi.
“That someone has a guilty secret – that he has been complicit in the sexual abuse of Nicola Fellows, which shows an interest in paedophilic sex.
“In the end it might mean he could not let Nicola Fellows tell the world what has been happening. That person is her father, Barrie Fellows.”
Nicola and Karen went missing while out playing together in Wild Park after school and were found dead in a wooded den near a landmark called Jacobs Ladder the next day.
The Court of Appeal had ordered a fresh trial in light of new DNA evidence incriminating Bishop, after he was initially cleared of the girls’ murders in 1987.
Three years after his acquittal, Bishop was convicted of the kidnap, indecent assault and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl at Devil’s Dyke, also on the South Downs.
Bishop, formerly from Brighton, East Sussex, has denied two charges of murder.