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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 01:05 GMT 02:05 UK
Stone begins life sentences
Michael Stone
Michael Stone had previous convictions for violence
Convicted killer Michael Stone has begun serving his life sentences for the murders of Lin and Megan Russell, but protests he is innocent.

Stone, a 38-year-old former heroin addict, was given three life sentences on Thursday after a jury found him guilty of two counts of murder, and of attempting to murder Megan's sister Josie.

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

But the judge at Nottingham Crown Court described the Russell murders as horrific as he gave Stone three life sentences.

Confession

It was the second time Stone had been convicted of the murders after the Court of Appeal threw out the result of the first trial after a key witness, Barry Thompson, admitted he had lied.

Josie Russell
Josie Russell made a remarkable recovery from her injuries
This time, Stone was convicted on the evidence of Damien Daley, 26, who admitted on the stand that he had lied about his drug-taking exploits at the first trial at Maidstone Crown Court in 1998.

Daley said that Stone had confessed to the hammer murders, near Chillenden, in Kent, through a heating pipe into the next cell at Canterbury prison.

The jury at this second trial was convinced that it was Stone who attacked Dr Russell, 45, and her daughters as they walked home from a swimming gala along a country lane on 9 July 1996.

Last night Stone's sister Barbara, who has campaigned to clear her brother's name, said the British justice system had "let my brother down".

No alibi

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

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."

Stone, who had no alibi about where he had been on the day of the murders, had a police record dating back to 1972.

Previous convictions

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

AUDIO VIDEO

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