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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Stone 'boasted of Russell murders'
Josie Russell on a swing
Josie Russell survived the attack
The man accused of bludgeoning to death Lin and Megan Russell admitted his crimes while on remand, a court has heard.

Michael Stone, 41, from Gillingham, Kent, also allegedly described how he tried to kill Megan's sister, Josie Russell, in an attack in a country lane near Chillenden, in Kent, on 9 July 1996.

Mr Stone denies two counts of murder and one of attempted murder.

On the first day of evidence, Nottingham Crown Court heard that Lin, six-year-old Megan and nine-year-old Josie were walking back from their school when the attack happened.

Lin and Megan Russell with horse
Lin and Megan Russell were killed in a ferocious attack

Nigel Sweeney QC said the three were walking along Cherry Garden Lane about 1620BST when they saw a car drive past and Josie waved.

Mr Sweeney said: "As they reached the vicinity of a house they saw that the man had parked his car across the track.

"He got out of the car and got a hammer from the back of it. He then demanded money from them.

"Lin had left her bag and purse at home and she offered to go with the man to get money, but he refused.

"At that time and in a very difficult situation, Lin Russell, who was an independent and confident woman, told Josie to run to the house in hope of alerting the occupier who was in fact out."

Mr Sweeney said the attacker grabbed Josie and hit her over the head with the hammer, but did not inflict any major injuries at that stage.

He said: "He walked her back to Lin, Megan and Lucy [their dog] and made them leave the track and took them to a small but extremely dense copse.

Shaun Russell
Shaun Russell, the father of the family, called the police

"Once inside the dense copse, the man then set about tying all three up and in order to do so, he tore Josie's blue swimming towel into six strips."

The man then struck Lin with the hammer at least 15 times with severe blows to the head, before smashing Josie's skull.

Mr Sweeney said that Megan was then hit at least seven times.

The family's dog, Lucy, was also found dead.

After the attack the man left the copse and drove his car back along the way he had come.

The court heard that a woman spotted the car and was driving behind it for several minutes, noticing that the man inside was extremely agitated.

Mr Sweeney said: "He kept looking at her through his mirror and she got a sufficiently good look at him to make an e-fit of the man she had seen."

About half an hour after the murders had taken place, a man was spotted around a mile away from the murder scene in an agitated state.

Mr Sweeney said: "He then dropped the string bag containing the bloodied towel strips in a hedgerow and drove off making good his escape."

Graphic details

Mr Sweeney told the jury that Michael Stone was the man who had carried out the attack.

He cited the evidence of fellow convict Damian Daley, who was also on remand at Canterbury Prison in 1997.

Mr Sweeney said Mr Stone had given graphic details of the attack to Daley.

Mr Sweeney said Mr Stone was born in 1960 and was 36 at the time of the murders, and that he was 5ft 7inches.

He said he had an intimate knowledge of the Chillenden area, as he had lived in the vicinity as a child in children's homes.

Mr Sweeney said: "You will hear in due course that he told lies about that knowledge in police interviews. He tried to say he didn't know this area as well as he did."

He also said Mr Stone was broadly consistent with the e-fit compiled by the witness who saw the attacker driving away.

He added that Mr Stone also kept tools, including hammers, in the back of his car.

After the murders he had gone to a friend's house with his T-shirt splattered with blood. He also burnt his clothing after the attack, the court was told.

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