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Michael STONE






Birth name: Michael John Goodban
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Heroin addict
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: July 9, 1996
Date of arrest: July 14, 1997
Date of birth: 1960
Victims profile: Lin Russell, 45, and her daughter, Megan, 6
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer
Location: Chillenden, Kent, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison (minimum 25 years) on October 4 , 2001

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Michael Stone (born Michael John Goodban in 1960) is a British criminal who was convicted of a notorious double-murder in 1996.

His original conviction was overturned on appeal but a second trial resulted in another verdict of guilty after another prisoner claimed that Stone had confessed to the killings while on remand in jail. His most recent appeal, in 2004, also failed.


On July 9, 1996, in a country lane in Kent, Lin Russell, aged forty-five, and her two daughters, six-year-old Megan and nine-year-old Josie, were tied up and savagely beaten with a hammer. Lin and Megan were killed but, despite appalling head injuries, Josie survived and went on to make a full recovery.

Josie's recovery and the way she and her father, Shaun Russell, coped with the aftermath of the tragedy were the subject of a BBC documentary. Father and daughter had by then moved to the Nantlle Valley in Gwynedd.

Trial and consequences

The crime received a great deal of publicity and in July 1997 police arrested and charged thirty-seven-year-old Michael Stone with the crimes. Stone pleaded not guilty at his original trial in 1998 but was convicted on the strength of testimony from three witnesses who claimed that he had confessed to them while in jail. He was sentenced to life.

It was later determined that Stone had previous convictions and had been diagnosed as a psychopath, and in the light of his conviction the Labour government suggested a plan to reform the 1983 Mental Health Act. Their proposal sought to reform the 1983 MHA's "treatibility test," which stated that only patients whose mental disorders were considered treatable could be detained. Because certain types of personality disorder are not considered treatable, patients with these conditions, including Michael Stone, could not be detained.

In response to the Michael Stone case and other widely publicized reports of mentally ill people committing atrocious crimes, the government wanted to allow those diagnosed with schizophrenia or personality disorders with a tendency towards violence to be detained against their will in mental health hospitals without having actually committed a crime. The reforms, ultimately enacted in 2007, changed the "treatability test" into an "appropriate medical treatment test." Under this new test, patients can be detained against their wishes as long as there is a medical treatment available to them that can alleviate or prevent the worsening of the disorder or one or more of its symptoms. There is no longer a requirement that treatments actually work, nor is there a requirement that patients participate in the treatment (ex: with taking therapies and other therapies that require active participation by the patient), merely that the treatment is considered appropriate, and is readily available to the patient.

Appeals and later developments

The Court of Appeal later ordered a retrial after a key prosecution witness went back on his evidence, but Stone was convicted a second time in 2001. Lawyers for Stone once again argued that his trial was not fair, this time because of the way the trial judge had summed up the case. Stone lost, and his life imprisonment term stands.

Michael Stone's conviction is still held by some to be a miscarriage of justice on the grounds that the evidence against him came from a prisoner in an adjoining cell who claimed that Stone had confessed by talking through a gap between the heating pipe and the wall between their cells. The prisoner who provided the evidence, Damien Daley, was described in court as a "career criminal". There was little forensic evidence available, and what there was (a few hairs, a bootlace, and a smudged fingerprint) could not be linked to Stone. However, Nigel Sweeney QC for the Crown, said that at the trial Daley had accepted "he was an individual who would lie when it suited him" but had nothing to gain by lying about Stone.

The jury were told by Nigel Sweeney QC that "we have to make you sure that Stone confessed" and so the jury tested the evidence of Damien Daley by actually visiting the cells in question where an extract from one of the Harry Potter stories was read out through the duct in the cell wall. The jury were able to listen to what was being read to them from the cell formerly occupied by Stone, which proved that it was possible for Stone to have confessed to Daley in the way he alleged.

Mr Williamn Clegg QC weakly defended by opining that "there was no proof the voice belonged to Stone".

The main issue however which forms the basis of the miscarriage of justice claim is that the jury were not told that the points of detail included in the confession had all been published in the national press on the day Stone was alleged to have confessed. They were told that Daley had been reading the Daily Mirror which contained some of the facts, but they were not told about the Daily Mail and The Times which had published the remaining facts.

On 21 December 2006, a High Court judge decided that Stone should spend at least 25 years in prison before being considered for parole. This means that he is likely to remain behind bars until at least 2023 and the age of 63. In September 2007 it was announced that The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is assessing if there is "any new evidence or anything to cast doubt on the safety of his convictions". CCRC spokeswoman said on Sunday: "His [Stone's] case file has been allocated to a case review manager."If there is any doubt over his convictions, then his case will be referred to the Court of Appeal. "We will look to consider whether there was anything that wasn't considered at trial or appeal." The spokeswoman added that the timescale for examining the case could be anything from a "few months to years".

On the 26th October 2010 the CCRC announced that they would not refer the case back to the Court of Appeal because they had found no new evidence to justify making a referral. They did not mention that the bootlace which had been dropped at the scene of the crime by the murderer, and which Stone had wanted to be re-examined to possibly identify a suspect who may have since been added to the DNA database, had been lost by the Kent police Exhibits Store. Only the exhibit bag previously containing the bootlace had been found, but the bootlace itself had gone missing.

Following the conviction of Levi Bellfield for two murders of young women (both in hammer attacks) and the attempted murder of a third (with the use of a vehicle) in February 2008, a website campaigning in favour of Michael Stone's innocence named Bellfield as a suspect for the Russell case, pointing out that Josie's description of the man fitted that of Bellfield and was quite different to the appearance of Michael Stone. A man fitting the description was also seen "panic stricken" and driving a Ford Orion in the country lanes around Chillenden on that fateful afternoon. Bellfield was also familiar with that part of Kent as he had friends living around there and also visited the area to trade drugs and also for work as a nightclub bouncer and wheel-clamper. However, it is unknown whether Bellfield ever owned or had access to the Ford Orion that was seen in the Chillenden area at the time of the murders.


A report in to the murders for which Stone was convicted has made a number of criticisms of his care, including a failure to share information between agencies.


Stone begins life sentences

BBC News

Friday, 5 October, 2001

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.


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.

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.


Stone 'lost in world of drugs'

BBC News

Thursday, 4 October, 2001

The exact motive for the murders of Lin and Megan Russell may never be known but the killings appear to be linked with Michael Stone's addiction to heroin.

Stone, who was unemployed, spent much of his time scouring Kent for goods which he could steal and sell to finance his 100-a-day drug habit.

The second trial heard that a bootlace found near the murder scene bore all the hallmarks of the type used by drug addicts as a tourniquet.

Forensic scientist Rodger Ide said the 99cm lace had three knots tied in it.

Injected several times a day

Stone was a drug user who injected heroin five or six times a day.

Some said they saw him use shoelaces, belts and a tie as tourniquets to bring up his veins.

The black, braided lace was found near a copse on Cherry Garden Lane.

If the lace was his it is not clear if he was "shooting up" before or after the murders.

Stone, who was born Michael John Goodban in Tunbridge Wells in 1960, was one of five children.

His building labourer father split up with his mother, who has married a total of four times, but not before Stone witnessed and suffered domestic violence as a child.

Confused and angry teenager

The young Stone ended up in a children's home in Eastry, near Canterbury, but he was abused and embarked on his teenage years as a confused, frustrated and angry boy.

When he was released from care he moved to Gillingham and took up a heroin habit.

He had a police record dating back to the age of 12 and his criminal career - mainly shoplifting and burglary - continued unabated into adulthood.

In 1981 he was jailed for two years at Middlesex Crown Court for robbery and grievous bodily harm after he attacked a homosexual man with a hammer.

Two years later he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years for wounding, assault and dishonesty after he stabbed his sleeping victim in the chest with a kitchen knife.

Freed in 1993

In 1987 he was jailed again, this time for an armed robbery on a building society in Brighton which netted him a measly 577.

Stone was jailed for eight years and walked free in 1993.

Despite the resurgence of his drug habit, he was able to keep out of trouble with the law until that fateful day in July 1996.

Stone admitted he had been taking so many drugs that he had no idea where he was on the day of the murders.

In interviews after his arrest Stone repeatedly denied killing Dr Russell and her daughter but admitted he had no alibi.

The trial was told that Stone supplemented his income by driving around Kent and stealing lawnmowers, mobile generators, hi-fi equipment and other easily disposable goods.

One friend said he knew the Chillenden area "like the back of his hand".

'He wanted money'

Josie Russell, who was left for the dead in the attack, later told police a man had demanded money from them before tying them up and bludgeoning them with a hammer.

Stone admitted: "I haven't got an alibi."

Detectives asked him: "You had no idea at all where you were on that day?"

Stone said: "I can't remember. I can't remember for two reasons. One - I was badly on drugs and two - it was so long ago."

He told detectives that he had been a heroin user for years.

Before Stone's arrest the man heading the inquiry, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Stevens, speculated on what might have been going on in the killer's head.

He said: "Maybe he's got a down on stable families. This young family walking through the cornfield with their dog. Maybe he thought 'This is everything I want and I can't have it'."



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