Published: 13:57, 06 November 2019
| Updated: 14:10, 06 November 2019
Convicted murderer Michael Stone's latest attempt to overturn his life sentence for a double murder in Kent more than 20 years ago has been turned down.
The 59-year-old is serving time for killing mother and daughter Lin and Megan Russell in Chillenden, near Canterbury, in 1996.
But the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has now denied Stone's request for a hearing at the Appeal Court after attempting to convince investigators Levi Bellfield is the real killer.
Speaking to KentOnline, Stone's lawyer Paul Bacon says he and his colleagues remain confident of quashing the conviction.
Stone, who is from Gillingham, has always denied killing six-year-old Megan and her mum Lin, 45, and maintained his innocence since being convicted in 2001 at a retrial.
The case became known as the Chillenden Murders.
His lawyers said in 2017 they had "detailed" evidence Bellfield - who murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 - confessed to killing Lin, Megan and the family dog to a fellow inmate.
The hammer attack in a country lane also left Lin's other daughter Josie - who was nine-years-old at the time - with severe head injuries.
Mr Bacon said: "We're planning to see Michael next week and he needs to go through it. I've sent him a copy in the post.
"They've invited us to submit further evidence and further representations and that's where we're at. I think this will run into the New Year.
"They have raised a number of points we're very interested in and don't wholly agree with.
"I'm still confident and I believe Michael Stone is an innocent man who's been in custody since 1997."
The commission said yesterday it will welcome responses to "persuade" them the decision not to refer the case is "wrong and should be changed".
Mr Bacon revealed Stone remains in "good spirits" in prison.
He added he could not go into detail about the submissions the team would be making to the CCRC but said he will be meeting with Stone and his barristers to "formulate a set of responses".
"I've not spoken to Michael and not got any instructions. It will take a little bit more time," Mr Bacon said.
The team are continuing to appeal and will decide whether they can pursue a case through the Court of Appeal themselves but Mr Bacon said getting support from the CCRC "is just better".
A final decision on the CCRC ruling is due on December 2.
Stone has previously said he would starve himself to death before confessing to the murders.
Bellfield earlier said Stone was bribing him to admit to the killings after passing notes between their cells at HMP Frankland in Durham in 2017 and challenged Stone to take a lie detector test.
More by this authorMatt Leclere