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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 12:36 GMT
Peace at last for Russell family
Lin Russell (left) and her daughter Megan
Stone battered Lin and Megan Russell to death with a hammer
Michael Stone has always protested his innocence but now that his appeal has failed he remains convicted of a crime which ripped a family apart.

Stone's victims were Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan.

Mrs Russell was walking home from school with her two daughters, Megan and Josie, along a track in Chillenden in Kent on a summer afternoon in 1996.

Stone accosted them and demanded money. They had none.

So he tied them up and beat them repeatedly around the head with a hammer. The family dog, Lucy, also died.

Miraculous survival

Nine-year-old Josie - at first though to be dead - survived with appalling head injuries.

A year on from the attack, Stone was charged with murdering Lin and Megan Russell and Josie's attempted murder.

At his first trial in October 1998, Stone was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In February 2001 he won an appeal and the judge ordered a new trial.

This was after a prosecution witness, Barry Thompson, went back on his evidence.

New trial, same verdict

In October 2001 came Stone's second trial. Again he was found guilty and returned to jail to continue his life sentence.

In March 2004 Stone won the right to another appeal. This followed criticisms of the summing-up by the judge at his second trial.

Stone was held at Canterbury prison after his initial arrest.

An inmate in the next-door cell, Damien Daley, told detectives Stone had confessed to the murders.

He said they had spoken to each other through a small gap by a central heating pipe.

In an interview with the BBC, Daley said it was "like being told a horror story".

Stone was convicted largely on the testimony of Daley, a career criminal, because there was no forensic evidence linking him to the crime.

No forensic link

At his latest appeal, Stone's legal team tried to argue that Daley's evidence was unreliable because he took heroin and was a self-confessed liar.

However, Nigel Sweeney QC, for the Crown, said that at the trial Daley had accepted "he was an individual who would lie when it suited him" and had nothing to gain by lying about Stone.

Stone's legal team also argued that the judge at his last trial had not given the jury enough guidance about the way they should treat Daley's evidence.

But the Appeal Court disagreed and Stone now returns to prison to continue his life sentence.

The police have relayed recent developments to Mrs Russell's husband Shaun, and his daughter Josie, who is now 17.

Stone hit Josie five times on the head with the hammer. She had fractures all over her skull and a nine-inch hole in her head.

It left her unable to speak but a few months after the attack, with the help of a speech therapist and dolls, she was able to describe to police what had happened.

She has made an astonishing recovery and last year passed eight GCSEs.


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