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Almost 20 years since the murders of Lin and Megan Russell, Michael Stone's sister still fighting to clear his name

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Barbara Stone says new DNA technology could clear her brother’s name almost 20 years after the murders of Lin and Megan Russell.

Ms Stone rarely sees her brother - now 55 - but admits she thinks about him – and what she sees as a gross miscarriage of justice – every day.

Stone was jailed for life in 1998, after being convicted of the murder of Lin and Megan Russell and the attempted murder of Josie Russell, then aged nine, in a remote country lane near Canterbury on July 9, 1996.

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Michael Stone has apparently written to friends saying he would rather starve than confess.
Michael Stone has apparently written to friends saying he would rather starve than confess.

Mrs Russell, 45, and six-year-old Megan and their dog, Lucy, were killed, but despite suffering terrible head injuries, Josie survived.

The family were tied up and savagely beaten with a hammer in what police said was an attempted robbery as they made their way home from school.

Stone denied being responsible for the appalling crimes but was found guilty.

Despite being behind bars for the past 19 years since his arrest he still protests his innocence.

He is serving three life sentences and must spend at least 25 years in prison.

He was found guilty after drug addict – and now convicted murderer – Damian Daley gave evidence for the prosecution, telling the court how Stone, of Skinner Street, Gillingham, had confessed to him in prison that he had carried out the dreadful attacks.

Another prisoner, Barry Thompson, admitted lying about an alleged confession by Stone a day after he was jailed.

Despite the convictions being quashed in 2001, Stone was found guilty again following a retrial on the basis of Daley’s evidence.

Ms Stone, 54, who lives in Chatham, decided to speak out to the Medway Messenger after serial killer, Levi Bellfield, was linked to the Russell killings after finally admitting to raping and murdering Milly Dowler, a crime he had previously denied.

Bellfield has since disputed making that confession to officers but the Metropolitan Police confirmed it was liaising with several police forces about other cold cases.

Ms Stone said: “We are pinning our hopes on advances in DNA technology.

“I’m not saying Bellfield is the killer, but we need to test his DNA against the that found at the scene. Advances in technology could lead to something.”

“There was no DNA evidence at the scene to put my brother there and even the e-fit issued at the time looks like Bellfield.

“I think the time is right to speculate on this now. The person who did this is still out there.

Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan. Picture supplied by Kent Police Press Office.
Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan. Picture supplied by Kent Police Press Office.

A car matching the description of one Bellfield had access to was seen in the area, so I do think the DNA from the crime scene should be tested against him and the thousands of others on the national database. This should be the least that’s being done.”

Ms Stone is smart and articulate and admits the long fight to overturn her brother’s conviction has turned her into a more forthright and strong-willed individual.

She still maintains hope that one day the real killer will confess, or if new evidence comes to light she wants to see the case re-investigated and reviewed.

She added: “Kent Police should not be involved in the fresh investigation, it should be handled by another force.

“I am very hopeful the truth will come out.”

Ms Stone also spoke about drug addict and life-time criminal Damien Daley who has now been convicted of murdering a man in Folkestone.

She said: “He was and is a heroin addict and now a murderer and has openly admitted he’s lied through his life to get by.

“How can his testimony still be relied upon, especially since his murder conviction?

“We now have access to his prison record at the time of the so-called cell confession.”

She said he had been found using heroin while inside and had access to the information about the killings from a copy of a newspaper in his cell.

“So I am saying as Michael’s sister, Daley made a false statement for whatever reason – perhaps to alleviate his distress inside, who knows?

“So my question is: should his testimony be used to take away another man’s freedom?” she added.

Murderer Levi Bellfield flexing his muscles in around 2004
Murderer Levi Bellfield flexing his muscles in around 2004

Ms Stone and her brother and his legal team are still hopeful someone will come forward with new information which would lead to a review of the case.

She added: “No matter how insignificant or small it is we want to hear from people.

“My brother has done things in the past but never anything as serious as this. He didn’t do this.

“The stress of this has never stopped and it never goes away and we still do not have closure.

“Neither do the other family.”

Michael Stone
Michael Stone

Speaking about her brother, she added: “He is determined to prove his innocence all the time. It has been a long process so far.

“He is in Frankland Prison in Durham, so I have not seen him for quite a while.

“We correspond by letter. He’s tormented and can’t do all his inquiries himself, so he asks me to help him.

“I am his sister, it’s been a very long battle and very emotional at times – for both of us – and it affects us every day of our lives.

“It is always there, it is sometimes very traumatic.

“Our dad Peter died while Mick’s been incarcerated. He was not allowed to go to the funeral as he is a Category A prisoner and will never be anything else as he will not admit his guilt as he is innocent of these crimes.

“I had to send him pictures of our dad’s funeral.

“My dad died with a broken heart, he always believed in Mick and felt he just could not have done it.

“We will keep fighting, Mick has a lot of supporters.

“Mick’s spirit and the courage he has shown in his fight to prove his innocence has never diminished. I am proud of him to be honest and admire him for those qualities.

“We’ve had two trials, two appeals and we would like to see a review into the case in the near future, but we have nothing looming, but I am hopeful this will happen.”

Josie Russell, nine, who survived an attack in which her sister Megan and mother Lin were murdered near Chillenden
Josie Russell, nine, who survived an attack in which her sister Megan and mother Lin were murdered near Chillenden

Kent Police said it was not looking for anyone else in connection with the case in which Stone was convicted.

“The Metropolitan Police Service is coordinating all activity in regard to Levi Bellfield,” a spokesman said.

“A Criminal Case Review Commission had access to all forensic evidence, documentation and exhibits from the original investigation, the review by another force, details of two Crown Court trials and appeals to the High Court.

“Furthermore, Michael Stone made an application to apply for a Judicial Review in respect of his conviction in September 2012.

“The Honourable Mr Justice Blake ordered that permission for the application should be refused.

If you have any information which can help the Stone’s fight, call Paul Bacon solicitor on 01623 624505 or email barbarastone001@aol.com

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