Defence in Stone trial to offer no evidence

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The Independent Online

Michael Stone, who is accused of beating to death Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter, Megan, in a ferocious hammer attack more than five years ago, declined to take the stand at his trial yesterday.

William Clegg QC, counsel for Mr Stone, told Nottingham Crown Court that he planned to call no evidence, and the jury is expected to begin considering its verdicts early next week.

Earlier the court was told that Mr Stone – who is also accused of attempting to murder Dr Russell's daughter Josie, then aged nine – had no alibi for the vital hours around the time of the attacks in a copse by an isolated lane near Chillenden, Kent, on 9 July 1996.

Mr Stone, 41, told police that he had been less than an hour's drive away in Chatham, Kent, on the morning of the killings but could not say where he was for most of the afternoon. During interviews after his arrest, a year after the murders, Mr Stone told police he had been "badly on drugs" and could not remember what happened.

Mr Stone, who is unemployed, rejected claims that he made a partial confession to a fellow prisoner, Damian Daley, while he was being held on remand, the court was told.

A receipt showed that Mr Stone had gone with a friend to Cash Converters, in Chatham, at 12.21pm on the day of his murders to sell a spirit level and other goods. During the interview after his arrest in July 1997, police asked him what he did after he left the shop. Mr Stone replied: "Maybe back to the flat. I can't remember where I went after that."

When he was first arrested Mr Stone wrongly told officers that he was in prison at the time of the murders and was not released until a month after the killings, the court was told.

During the interviews, Mr Stone denied he had ever been near the murder scene and claimed never to have heard of Chillenden before widespread publicity about the murders.

"I haven't done these Chillenden, Russell murders, I haven't been down to Chillenden," he told police. "The closest I have been to Chillenden is when I went to this side of Canterbury with my brother." The court has been told that he lived in a children's home in the area when he was growing up and had a good knowledge of the area, according to witnesses.

When asked about Mr Daley's evidence, Mr Stone told police: "I didn't talk to the inmate in Canterbury prison. When I went to Canterbury they were shouting, 'Come out to your window' and they said, 'The best thing you can is hang yourself' and they told me how to do it." Asked again about Mr Daley's claims, Mr Stone said: "It's a pack of lies."

Mr Stone also dismissed claims that he turned up at a friend's house wearing a blood-stained shirt. "She's lying. I never had any blood on my T-shirt. We are not on the best of terms," he told police.

The court has been told that Mr Stone claimed he threw away the clothes he owned at the time of the murders because he had put on weight.

Mr Stone, from Gillingham, Kent, denies murdering Lin and Megan Russell, and attempting to murder Josie Russell. The trial continues.

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