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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Stone trial hears of 'suspicious' man
Josie Russell on a swing
Josie Russell was interviewed on video
The trial of Michael Stone, the man accused of murdering a woman and her daughter, has heard from witnesses who saw a man acting suspiciously near the crime scene.

Mr Stone, 41, from Gillingham, Kent, has denied murdering Dr Lin Russell and her daughter Megan, six.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Dr Russell's nine-year-old daughter Josie in rural Kent in July 1996.

One woman told Nottingham Crown Court that she saw a man standing by the side of the road holding a hammer.


He was white, his skin was so white for the time of year he looked sick

Isobel Cole, witness
Isobel Cole described how she was returning from a shopping trip when she passed a man on a country lane outside Chillenden.

She said: "He was just standing there. He had dark trousers and he had something in his right hand - holding something down beside him.

"As I got close I could see it was a hammer in his hand.

"He was white, his skin was so white for the time of year he looked sick."

Blood-stained towel

The court also heard from Anthony Rayfield, who saw a man acting "jittery" near some woods a mile from the crime scene.

He later returned to investigate and found a string bag at the top of a bank in some bushes containing what looked like a stained blue towel.

Mr Rayfield left the bag there until the next day when he heard about the attack and contacted the police.

Lin and Megan Russell with horse
Lin and Megan Russell
An examination found the towel was one used by Josie or Megan for swimming and that it had been torn into six strips.

Junior prosecuting barrister Mark Ellison told the court that the six strips were blood-stained.

He added that at least two of the strips contained Mrs Russell's blood which had also been found on the string bag, which belonged to one of her daughters.

During an interview recorded on 10 May 1997, which was shown to the court, Josie told how she saw an e-fit photograph of the possible killer published in a newspaper.

Video interview

PC Pauline Smith was one of the specially trained officers who spent hours coaxing information from Josie about the attack.

In the video she asked Josie: "I want to make really, really sure that the face is the face of that man in the woods?"

Josie replied: "Yeah."

The following month another video interview was carried out, which was also shown to the court, in which Josie seemed less convinced.

She told PC Smith it "may be" the man who attacked the family.

The trial continues.

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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