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Once Upon a True Crime Episode 1: The Babes in the Wood Murders by Peter James

Peter James, on Brighton Beach

Four of Britain’s best-known crime writers turn detective in a brand-new series Once Upon a True Crime, exclusive to Crime + Investigation.

Featuring Peter James, Denise Mina, Mark Billingham and Douglas Skelton, the show investigates the real-life murders that inspired some of the acclaimed authors’ most famous novels.

In the first episode, international best-seller, Peter James revisits the chilling, so-called Babes in the Wood murders in Brighton of 1986.

Brighton-born master storyteller Peter James explores his home city where two nine-year-old girls mysteriously disappeared in October 1986 and their bodies discovered in a local park the next day. The shocking case of Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows is one that has stuck with James and the nation to this day.

When best-friends Karen and Nicola did not return home one night, their distressed parents contacted the police, and an extensive search began to find their whereabouts. Their bodies were discovered in Wild Park by members of the community helping with the search the following day.

Suspicions soon fell on acquaintance Russell Bishop who had involved himself heavily in the search for the girls.

With the help from the cases lead police investigators, James uncovers what really happened to Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows that night; how officers came to suspect Bishop as the killer, who sensationally walked free after trial.

His name resurfaced three years later, when eerily similar circumstances occurred to a seven-year-old girl who survived. This episode takes viewers on the gruelling 30-year fight for justice and one of the largest and longest-running inquests in Sussex police history.

Once Upon a True Crime aired on Crime + Investigation on 25th April and is now available to stream on Crime + Investigation PLAY.