'I noticed blood on Stone,' court told

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The Independent Online

A friend of Michael Stone, the man accused of murdering Lin and Megan Russell, told yesterday how Mr Stone arrived at her house wearing a blood-stained T-shirt.

Sheree Batt said Mr Stone zipped up his top when asked about the soiled garment.

She told Nottingham Crown Court that Mr Stone would call at her home in Chatham, Kent, to collect her boyfriend, Lawrence Calder. Mr Stone, she said, had come to her home wearing the blood-stained T-shirt two weeks before 24 July 1996 around the time of the murders. Ms Batt said she believed it was about midday, but could have been as early as 1am or as late as 3pm. "I noticed blood on Mick," she said.

Mr Stone, 41, of Gillingham, Kent, denies murdering Dr Lin Russell and her daughter Megan, 6, and attempting to murder Josie Russell, then aged 9, in a country lane near Chillenden, Kent, on 9 July 1996.

After Ms Blatt told the court about the blood-stained T-shirt, Nigel Sweeney QC, for the prosecution, asked her: "Did you notice any other sign on him, of any injuries?", to which she replied there were none. "When you mentioned it to him, did he do anything?" Mr Sweeney asked. Ms Batt answered: "He zipped up his jogging top."

She told the court Mr Stone and Mr Calder then left the house, although she was not able to recall in what vehicle they drove away in.

Ms Batt did not make her first statement until 20 July 1997, three days after Mr Stone had been arrested over the murders and only after a visit by police the previous day.

When cross-examined by William Clegg QC, for the defecne, about the delay, she told the trial it was "because Mick said he had been in a fight and Chillenden is miles away".

She was also questioned on her evidence in earlier statements about what trousers the defendant was wearing. Initially she said he was wearing stone-washed jeans but in a further statement in November 1997 she claimed to be unsure.

Mr Clegg put it to her that she had altered her statement to tie with one made by Mr Calder. Ms Batt replied: "No, I didn't."

The trial, the second for the killings, will resume next week.

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