BBC Two is to transmit a one-hour exclusive access documentary, produced by Gold Star Productions, following the notorious Babes in the Wood murder case and the work of the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Babes in the Wood: The Prosecutors special is the final episode of the three-part The Prosecutors series following the work of the Crown Prosecution Service and will air on January 7th at 9pm.
For 32 years, the families of nine-year old friends Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows have been fighting for justice for the unsolved double child murder.
For this hour-long documentary, Gold Star Productions had exclusive access to the work of the CPS during the 18 month run up to the trial. It charts how police and scientists used cutting edge methods to uncover new evidence, which was enough for the CPS to pursue a fresh action. Following the re-investigation and proceedings from an early stage, and sharing the experience of the children’s families, this film charts how the last chance at finally finding justice for Karen and Nicola was achieved.
As a result of the change in the double jeopardy laws, a retrial of acquitted Russell Bishop was possible, and this week saw him receive a guilty verdict and a sentence of at least 36 years in prison.
This programme follows the fight of Michelle Hadaway and the Fellows family whose lives were changed forever on 9th October, 1986, when nine-year-old friends Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows went out to play and didn’t come home. In the hours and days after their disappearance, the whole estate turned out to look for the two girls only to have their hopes dashed when they were found lying dead in undergrowth in Wild Park, on the outskirts of Brighton. Both had been strangled and sexually assaulted.
Police arrested a man the girls liked and trusted, twenty-year-old Russell Bishop and in 1987 he was put on trial. But the jury took less than two hours to acquit him of the murders.
Police had no other suspects and under the law at the time, Bishop could not be retried even if new evidence were to be found until 2005, when the double jeopardy law was abolished, rekindling the hopes of the families.
The hour long documentary charts how police and scientists used cutting edge methods to uncover new evidence, which was enough for the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue a fresh action. Following the re-investigation and proceedings from an early stage, and sharing the experience of the children’s families, this film charts how the last chance at finally finding justice for Karen and Nicola was achieved.
Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, said: “This is a historic case and the unique access from Blue Ryan and Sara Hardy is testament to documentary making at it’s very best. Their care for the families has been exemplary and as a result, BBC Two has a unique film which gives an extraordinary insight into the traumatic events of the past 32 years which has led to the families finally getting justice.”
Gold Star’s Director, Sara Hardy, said: “Michelle Hadaway and the Fellows and Heffron families have never given up the fight for justice for Karen and Nicola. Their strength, perseverance and relentless pursuit of the truth has been realised this week.
Gold Star Director, Blue Ryan, added: “The CPS and Sussex Police has been crucial throughout the making of the film and the behind-the-scenes access they have allowed gives this documentary a unique insight into the day-to-day workings of the criminal justice system through one of the most notorious double jeopardy cases in the UK.”
BBC Two’s series transmitted the first two episodes of the three-part series earlier this year with this special scheduled to be shown following the verdict, which was reached this week.
The Babes in the Wood: The Prosecutors, a 1×60′, is a co-production between Gold Star Productions and The Open University. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries.
Pictured: Susan Eismann, Barrie Fellows and Michelle Johnson-Hadaway.
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