Original article from Kent Live
In a crime which shocked not only Kent but also the country, a mum and her daughter were victims of a senseless and violent murder in Chillenden.
The attack happened on July 9, 1996, when Lin Russell, 45, and her daughters Megan, 6, and Josie, 9, were viciously attacked with a hammer on their way home from a swimming gala.
Josie survived the attack, however Lin, Megan and the family dog all died.
Signing up to the KentLive newsletter means you'll get the latest news direct to your inbox twice a day.
It couldn't be simpler and it takes seconds – simply press here, enter your email address and follow the instructions. You can also enter your email address in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms.
You can also sign up to our website and comment on our stories by pressing here and signing in.
Despite adamantly denying that he committed the crimes, he was found guilty after a trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
At his sentencing he told the judge: “It wasn’t me Your Honour, I didn’t do it.”
Despite a retrial being ordered due to one of the witnesses admitting to have lied in the initial trial, Stone was again found guilty and was given a life sentence in 2001.
Stone has always maintained his innocence. He is eligible for parole in July 2022, but he has refused it as he attempts to prove it.
We take a look at why people believe he was wrongly convicted.
A note written by another notorious killer, Levi Bellfield, has revealed that he was in the area on the day of the murders.
Bellfield said he had no loyalties to Stone, but told his solicitors in a 15-page statement that he made numerous visits to the Kent area including the road where Lin and Megan were killed.
In November 2016, Stone’s solicitor Paul Bacon told a press conference he had “received evidence of a full confession” of the Russell murders by Levi Bellfield, who is currently serving two life sentences for the murders of two women and schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Mr Bacon said: "In the confession, Bellfield describes how he came across Lin Russell and her two children, how he attacked them with a hammer and his motivation for the killing.
“The confession is detailed and has a number of facts which are not in the public domain.”
Bellfield denied making any such confession and his solicitor said Stone, who was believed to have been in a separate wing of HMP Frankland from Bellfield, had offered him payment to confess.
Julie Cooper said: "Mr Bellfield denies the murders of the Russell family and denies ever making such a confession.
"Mr Stone has offered payment to our client, which he anticipates receiving as compensation for time served in custody.
"Mr Bellfield instructs that he has invited Mr Stone to undertake a polygraph test, which has been declined.
"For the record, Mr Bellfield is willing to undertake such a test in respect of the murders for which he is serving a life sentence and the murders of the Russell family."
Josie Russell had said that the killer had been a little taller than her 6ft father.
While Bellfield is 6ft 1ins, Stone is only 5ft 7ins.
Josie had also described seeing a beige Ford at the murder scene.
Bellfield drove a beige Ford Sapphire at the time which he later reported stolen.
Following the murder of Milly Dowler, he had reported his girlfriend’s red Daewoo to have been stolen, before getting rid of it so it could not be found.
Colin Sutton, a former senior Metropolitan Police detective who investigated Bellfield, said he did not believe him to be guilty of killing the mother and daughter.
He said: “He said: "I have very good knowledge of the Levi Bellfield case and indeed Levi Bellfield the man.
"Our investigation into Levi Bellfield told us that on the day of the Chillenden murders, Levi Bellfield was in west London, Surrey borders, having a meal with his then girlfriend and some family to celebrate a birthday, and couldn't have been in Kent at that time.
"His attacks were using something like a hammer, in some cases. He always attacked people who were alone. I have no reason to suspect that Levi Bellfield would actually attack a child with a hammer.
“His hammer attacks were on adult women. He had very distinct and discrete areas where he offended.
"I don't think he killed Megan and Lin Russell.”
Are you catching up with news on-the-go?
Or perhaps you'd like to sit down with a cup of tea and read some of the top stories in your area.
Luckily for you, we can ensure the latest news lands in your inbox everyday, keeping you in the know.
From traffic and travel news, to food features and stories about the people who make our county so great, we've got it all.
Why should you go searching for it if we can already tailor make and deliver it to you?
We have thousands of people already subscribed to our newsletter, and signing up takes a matter of minutes.
All you need to do is follow this one simple step
- Just pop your email address in the box at the top of this story and click 'subscribe'
- We'll instantly send you a welcome message, just to let you know you're all signed up
- Sit back, relax and let us keep you updated everyday
Lack of forensic evidence
Barrister Matthew Stanbury argued the case for Stone’s conviction being resent for appeal when he appeared on the CBS documentary The Jury Room, citing the lack of forensic evidence tying Stone to the crimes.
He said: "Michael Stone's defence in essence was simply that he wasn't there, he had never been there. There was no forensic evidence linking him.
"Michael Stone had asked to be segregated, precisely to avoid being incited to make confessions. The jury are then asked to believe that he has then voluntarily, with his head against a pipe, made a confession."
Dr Georgina Meakin, who took part in the 2017 BBC documentary, said of the DNA results: “We end up with DNA that doesn’t point to Michael Stone and points elsewhere.”
The credibility of prisoner witness Damien Daley
Stone was found guilty in 1998 following a trial at Maidstone Crown Court during which it was heard three witnesses had heard him confess to the killings.
His defence had claimed these three to be unreliable and when one of them retracted their evidence after the first trial, it led to a retrial in 2001.
Stone had been put in a cell next to Damien Daley prior to his original trial after a psychiatrist said the e-fit released after the killings resembled a patient, Michael Stone, who had admitted having fantasies about killing someone.
Daley claimed that Stone admitted to the murders through a heating pipe.
Although he was found guilty by a 10-2 majority at this retrial, he applied for an appeal on the basis that the prosecution witness Daley was a known liar, which the jury had not been told, and that he could have got details from news stories.
However, the conviction was upheld.
Daley would go on to be convicted of murder himself, which has caused some to question his credibility as a witness.
Mr Sutton said that he did not feel Daley’s murder conviction should cast doubt on his testimony.
He said: “The fact that Damien Daley is now himself a convicted murderer doesn't particularly worry me in this case.
“Even amongst murderers there is a line. A random brutal hammer attack on a mother and her two daughters is probably beyond the line of most people, including most murderers.”
The ‘niggling doubt’ of father Shaun Russell
Shaun Russell, Lin’s husband and Megan and Josie’s father, had previously expressed doubt over Michael Stone’s guilt.
The former University of Kent lecturer told the Daily Mail: "All the way through there's been this niggling doubt. If I'd been on that jury I think I'd have been one of the two against the 10 who thought he was guilty.
"I couldn't have said 100 per cent that he killed Lin and Megan, and while there is that doubt I cannot direct my anger or hatred towards him."
Sign up to get the latest stories from Kent direct into your inbox here