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EDITIONS
Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Jury urged to clear Stone
Michael Stone
The defence described Mr Stone as "highly unattractive"
The jury in the Michael Stone murder trial has been told it risks "one of the largest miscarriages of justice this country would have seen" if it presumes the accused is guilty.

Mr Stone denies the murders of Lin Russell, 45, her daughter Megan, six, and attempting to murder Josie Russell, then nine.

They were attacked by a man with a hammer on a country lane near Chillenden, Kent, on 9 July 1996.

In his closing speech at Nottingham Crown Court, defence counsel William Clegg QC said the prosecution's case "beggars belief".


Each one of you wants Michael Stone to be guilty, part of all of us wants him to be guilty

William Clegg QC
He urged the jury members to study their evidence carefully.

"Consciously or unconsciously we all want him (Stone) to be guilty because to do otherwise is to think the unthinkable," said Mr Clegg.

"It means the wrong man has been in prison these last four years and it means the guilty man is actually still at liberty.

'Sleep peacefully'

"We owe it to justice to get it right."

Mr Clegg told the jury: "Each one of you wants Michael Stone to be guilty, part of all of us wants him to be guilty.

"In many ways we all hope that he is because if he is guilty then the police have caught the right man, Josie Russell's attacker is in prison where he belongs and all of us can sleep more peacefully in our beds tonight."

Lin and Megan Russell
Lin and Megan Russell
However, he warned against this approach for fear that "you may be trying a case that results in one of the largest miscarriages of justice this country would have seen".

Moving on, Mr Clegg conceded Stone was a "highly unattractive individual" living as he was at the time as a "habitual drug user".

But he said: "He is still someone's son, someone's brother, someone's nephew.

"He is entitled to the same quality of justice as your son, your brother, your nephew."

'Proven liar'

Mr Clegg said the prosecution case hinged on the evidence of criminal Damian Daley who told the jury a man in a neighbouring cell at Canterbury prison, said to be Stone, confessed to the killings.

"He is a proven liar and a professional criminal, a man who happily admits lying to the jury in the first trial," he said.

"At the end of the day would any of you be confident seeing a relative of yours convicted on the word of someone like Damian Daley, a self-confessed burglar?"

The trial continues.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Cape
"Josie was never able to identity the killer"
See also:

25 Sep 01 | England
24 Sep 01 | England
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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