Stone stays silent on Russell murders

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MICHAEL STONE, the man accused of murdering Lin and Megan Russell and attempting to kill Josie Russell, yesterday refused to say anything in his own defence. Lawyers for Stone called no evidence in his defence at his trial yesterday.

William Clegg QC, for Michael Stone, got to his feet at the end of a two week case by the prosecution and said: "The defence elects to offer no evidence."

Mr Justice Ian Kennedy told Stone's defence team: "It may be open for the jury to draw the appropriate inference from this silence."

Stone, 38, of Gillingham, Kent is accused of murdering Dr Russell, 45, and her daughter Megan, 6, at Chillenden near Canterbury in July 1996. He is also accused of the attempted murder of Josie, who survived and is now 11. He denies all the charges.

Anne Rafferty QC, for the prosecution, began summing up the case against Stone by asking the jury to "strip away emotion and sympathy."

She told Maidstone Crown Court there was no direct identification of Stone as the killer. Neither was there forensic evidence linking him to the crimes.

But Miss Rafferty said he resembled an E-fit image compiled by Nicola Burchell, who spotted a man near the murder scene.

He was a heroin addict who sometimes used a shoelace as a tourniquet when he injected. Such a shoelace was found with Josie and Megan's blood on it.

And Stone had denied knowing the remote area of Kent where the murders took place, even though friends said he knew it like the back of his hand.

"He is a tourniquet using, E-fit resembling man with local knowledge of this remote Kentish area," Miss Rafferty said.

She referred the jury to the evidence of three prison inmates - Damien Daley, Mark Jennings and Barry Thompson - who had conversations with the defendant at different times.

Most significant was the evidence of Daley, who allegedly heard Stone confess details of the killings when they were both remand prisoners in adjacent cells.

All the details later mentioned by Daley to police were already in the public domain, she said.

But Daley would have had to have been following the case very closely to have known that Josie tried to run away and that a shoelace was found at the scene.

Mr Clegg, for Stone, had argued that Daley was attempting to "fit Stone up" for the crime. But Miss Rafferty said: "there is not a shred of evidence that that was the case." Daley was not a man happy or accustomed to be appearing in court for the Crown.

The evidence of another inmate, Mark Jennings, who was also a friend of Stones, supported Daley.

Miss Rafferty said that the Sun newspaper had paid Jennings family pounds 5,000 and offered more for further details, but there was no suggestion he had to give evidence to acquire the money.

Jennings, a convicted murderer, appeared because his conscience had troubled him she said.

Michael Stone had visited Jennings in prison and discussed the Russell murders.

Although Stone told police he had spoken to no one about the killings, he had defended the killer to Jennings, saying perhaps there was a reason.

Stone had allegedly gone on to claim that he himself could kill women and children to avoid serving a long prison sentence.

In her summary of the evidence against Stone, Miss Rafferty also repeated the description given by Anthony Rayfield, who saw a man hiding a string bag and towel, later identified as belonging to the Russell's.

Mr Rayfield said the man had fair or light coloured hair, which was quite closely cut. The man was about 5ft 6in tall and aged 35-40.

Miss Rafferty also referred the jury to Sheree Batt, a friend of Stone's who described him as being spattered in blood the day after the attack. "What reason would she have for coming here and telling you a pack of "lies."