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EDITIONS
Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Stone guilty of Russell murders
Michael Stone
Michael Stone had previous convictions for violence
Michael Stone has been found guilty of the murder of Lin Russell and her daughter Megan and the attempted murder of Megan's sister Josie.

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court returned guilty verdicts on all three counts.

The judge described the murders as horrific as he gave Stone three life sentences.

Josie Russell
Josie Russell made a remarkable recovery from her injuries
He said: "Michael Stone, you have been convicted of three terrible crimes.

"There is no need for me to develop that description further."

It was the second time Stone, a 38-year-old former heroin addict, had been convicted of the murders.

The Court of Appeal threw out the result of the first trial after a key witness, Barry Thompson, admitted he had lied.

Josie Russell smiled and said "that's good" when told by her father, Shaun, of the verdict, a statement from Mr Russell's lawyers said.

Stone's sister Barbara, who has campaigned tirelessly in a bid to clear her brother's name, said "not again" as the verdict was passed.

She said the British justice system had "let my brother down".

Derek Hayward, Stone's solicitor, said his client maintained his innocence and would appeal the convictions "in the event of fresh evidence".

Miraculous recovery

The jury at this second trial was convinced that it was Stone who attacked Dr Russell, 45, and her six-year-old daughter as they walked home from a swimming gala along a country lane in Chillenden, near Canterbury, on 9 July 1996.

Her eldest daughter, Josie, nine, was also battered and left for dead but she survived and has made a miraculous recovery.


You have been convicted of three terrible crimes - there is no need for me to develop that description further

Mr Justice Poole
The family's pet dog, Lucy, was also killed.

Police built up a picture of what happened, based partly on Josie's recollections and partly on Stone's confessions to a cellmate.

The court heard that the family passed Stone's car, which was parked in the lane, when he got out wielding a claw hammer and demanded money.

Dr Russell said they did not have any and offered to go home and get some.

But Stone said "No", tied them up and bludgeoned Dr Russell and Megan to death.

Josie was urged by her mother to run home and get help but she was caught, blindfolded with strips of towel taken from her swimming bag and tied to a tree.

Lin and Megan Russell: Bludgeoned to death
Her mother was also blindfolded.

Josie was then attacked and passed out.

Her injuries were so severe it was not until the next year that she could recount the events to police. She still has difficulty speaking and understanding speech.

There was no forensic evidence against Stone, who pleaded not guilty and maintained throughout that his cellmate was lying about his confession.

Kent Detective Superintendent Dave Stevens said outside court after Thursday's verdicts: "This remains one of the most horrific crimes ever committed.

"Josie's survival is a triumph over evil and her continued progress warms our hearts".

"I hope now they can find some peace as they struggle to rebuild their lives."


This remains one of the most horrific crimes ever committed

Dave Stevens
Kent Police
Stone, who had no alibi about where he had been on the day of the murders, had convictions dating back to 1972.

In 1981 he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for attacking a man with a hammer during the course of a robbery.

Two years later he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years for two counts of actual bodily harm.

He had stabbed a friend in the chest while the victim slept.

In 1987 he was sentenced to 10 years for two armed robberies.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's June Kelly
"Michael Stone was given three life sentences for a crime that ripped a family apart"
Mike George of the Crown Prosecution Service
"This was a serious and savage attack"
Michael Stone's Solicitor, Derek Hayward
"We are very disappointed and saddened by the outcome"


Analysis

Background

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