Stone is convicted again of Russell murders

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The Independent Online

Michael Stone, a violent criminal with a psychotic personality disorder, was jailed for life for the second time yesterday for the horrific hammer attacks on Dr Lin Russell and her two young daughters, Megan and Josie.

The murders were among the most shocking in recent times and sparked a massive police investigation leading to a controversial conviction that was eventually quashed. It has now been vindicated by the second-trial jury.

Stone, 41, of Gillingham, Kent, showed no emotion as he was found guilty of two counts of murder and one of attempted murder by a verdict of 10-2 at Nottingham Crown Court.

Josie, now aged 14, who survived despite suffering terrible injuries, smiled and said "good" when her father, Shaun, told her of the convictions at their home in north Wales.

In a statement, Dr Russell said: "It seems unlikely Josie and I will ever have the consolation of an admission of guilt or remorse from the person who carried out the murders."

Dr Russell said he had "feelings of sorrow" for Stone, who killed Lin, 45, and Megan, six, in July 1996 as they returned from a school swimming gala. He said he and his daughter "must face the future with hope, as they would have wanted, and not with bitterness".

The verdicts concluded Stone's four-year legal battle to clear his name. His sister, Barbara Stone, who has protested his innocence, said: "Kent police can look over their shoulders. We will always fight for his freedom. There will be no let up."

It was revealed yesterday that Josie Russell recognised Stone for the first time after the first trial ended from a photograph printed in a tabloid newspaper. She said: "That's him", according to a Crown Prosecution Service source, but her injuries meant the evidence could never be heard in court.

Sentencing Stone to three life terms, Mr Justice Poole said: "You have been convicted of three terrible crimes. There is no need for me to develop that description further."

The prosecution case relied almost entirely on the evidence of another inmate and prison hardman, Damian Daley, who heard Stone's furtive confession from an adjoining cell while he was on remand.

Further reports, pages 10-11