Bootlace could be ‘huge’ in Stone’s bid to clear name over Chillenden murders

Lin Russell and her daughter Megan
Lin Russell and her daughter Megan (PA Media)
14:15pm, Mon 10 May 2021
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A bootlace found at the scene of the Chillenden murders could be “absolutely huge” in the convicted killer’s quest to clear his name, his barrister says.

Michael Stone is currently serving three life sentences for the murders of Lin Russell and her daughter Megan, who were found bludgeoned to death in Kent in July 1996.

Ms Russell’s other daughter, Josie, then nine, suffered severe head injuries in the attack and the family’s dog, Lucy, was killed.

Stone’s defence team believes a potentially crucial piece of evidence, which they say was recently unearthed after being lost by police, could point the finger at someone else.

Kent Police said their position on Stone’s conviction remains unchanged.

Michael Stone (PA Archive)

It comes as detectives continue to investigate the killing of serving PCSO Julia James, who was found dead less than three miles from the village of Chillenden.

Speaking to the PA news agency, barrister Mark McDonald said Stone was made a “scapegoat” and that the real killer is still out there.

He told PA: “My message is simple. Michael Stone is innocent of this crime which means that the real person who committed this crime is still at large.

“We have got to find the person who committed this awful crime and make sure we lock him up.”

Mr McDonald pointed to a bootlace found at the scene that was later lost by police, and then rediscovered, as potentially crucial in his quest to clear Stone’s name.

He said there is “no forensic, no identification evidence at all” against Stone, and said the bootlace could yield DNA that would “undoubtedly point away” from his client.

This is huge. It's absolutely huge

“This is huge. It’s absolutely huge,” he added.

The case is currently being considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and may subsequently be referred to the Court of Appeal, Mr McDonald said.

“This is the biggest miscarriage of justice since the Birmingham Six.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Fotheringham of Kent Police said: “We are aware that the Criminal Cases Review Commission is considering an application from Michael Stone appealing his conviction for the murders of Lin and Megan Russell and the attempted murder of Josie Russell in 1996.

“We are engaged with the CCRC and have been providing them with all the relevant information and evidence required in relation to the case.

“Much like a live investigation, it would not be appropriate at this stage of the review to disclose the nature of the materials provided.

“Since Stone was imprisoned there have been allegations and statements that have been set against what has already been disclosed and they have not provided information that changes the position of Kent Police in relation to his conviction.”

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