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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
'No forensic link' in Russell case
Michael Stone
Evidence at the scene 'did not match' Michael Stone
The trial of the man accused of killing Lin and Megan Russell has heard there was no forensic evidence linking him to the copse where their bodies were found.

Nottingham Crown Court was told that samples of blood, hair and fibres were discovered at the scene of the frenzied hammer attack near Chillenden, Kent.

But despite extensive testing none could be matched with Michael Stone.

Mr Stone denies murdering Lin Russell and daughter Megan, six, and attempting to murder Josie Russell, then nine, who were attacked as they walked home along a remote country lane on 9 July 1996.

'Moving scene'

On Monday, forensic scientist Roger Mann told the court that conditions for collecting evidence at the scene were less than ideal because it was in the open.

He said: "It was very difficult.

"We had a moving scene because of dry leaves and because it is outside there are no flat surfaces."

The trial also heard that among the samples taken from the scene, was a hair found on trousers that Lin Russell, 45, was wearing at the time of the attack.

Mr Mann told Nigel Sweeney QC, prosecuting, that it "may have come from the same source" as two of four hairs recovered from the sole of a jelly shoe Josie Russell was wearing.

He said forensic experts concentrated on the right shoe, which had four hairs, and two were different from those of the victims.

The hairs did not originate from Lin, Megan, Josie or the defendant, which suggested that each of the two was from a different source.

No match

Mr Mann said this did not mean the unidentified hairs belonged to the killer.

He said: "There are a number of explanations.

"They could have been picked up from the school where I understand the children had been swimming."

The court was told "red fibres" were found on Megan's swimming towel and swimsuit and Josie's blue tights.

No match could be found with clothing the family were either wearing or had at home.

A witness reported seeing a man in a red T-shirt acting suspiciously near the murder scene.

But Mr Mann said the fibres could also have come from the red uniform fellow pupils at the girls' school wore.

Same pattern

The jury were shown photographs of the girls' lunchboxes, which were bloodstained, and one which revealed two fingerprints.

Expert Michael Pass told the court that one print was unable to throw up any clues while the second was also of "bad quality".

The only conclusion he had reached was that the person whose print it was had a "loop pattern".

Mr Pass said Lin Russell had the same, common, pattern, but added that Mr Stone was different.

The trial also heard statements from prison officers who said inmates on the segregation unit at Canterbury jail often used the heating pipes to talk to those in the next cell.

Earlier in the trial prosecution witness Damian Daley told the jury that a man in the neighbouring cell told him, using the method, how he had committed the Chillenden murders.

The trial continues.

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


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