Witness in Stone trial says `I lied'

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The Independent Online
A WITNESS has admitted lying in the Michael Stone murder trial and agreed last night to make a statement which could boost the convicted double-murderer's chances of appeal.

Barry Thompson, a former prisoner, contacted Stone's solicitor, Derek Hayward, after telling The Mirror that he had lied to the jury. "Stone never said the words I attributed to him. I told the jury a pack of lies," he told the newspaper.

Stone, 38, of Gillingham, Kent, has always denied murder and interrupted the judge, Mr Justice Ian Kennedy, during sentencing to shout: "I didn't do it, your honour."

The Crown Prosecution Service ordered an investigation yesterday into Mr Thompson's claims. "We are asking the police to investigate [this] as a matter of urgency and will be discussing [it] with the police and counsel." A police spokeswoman said: "Any such allegation will be investigated carefully in the interests of justice."

Mr Thompson, a former prisoner, told Maidstone Crown Court how Stone had looked at him menacingly and said: "I made a mistake with her. I won't make the same ... mistake with you."

Counsel for the prosecution suggested this was a reference to Josie Russell. But William Clegg QC, for Stone, suggested Mr Thompson had made it up.

Mr Thompson, who was serving two years for dishonesty and intimidating a witness, told The Mirror that what Stone really said was: "You and me are going to fall out."

Apart from the prisoners' evidence, the prosecution case depended on circumstantial evidence. There was no forensic evidence linking Stone to the crimes.

Stone was convicted on Friday of murdering Dr Lin Russell, 45, and her daughter, Megan, six, at Chillenden near Canterbury in July 1996. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Josie Russell, now 11. He announced immediately that he intended to appeal.

Derek Hayward, Stone's solicitor, said yesterday the information he was receiving was very encouraging and might help an appeal. "I am aiming to speak to my client at the earliest opportunity," he said. But he had advised Mr Thompson to seek legal advice as, if the new claims were true, he had committed perjury.

Mr Thompson, in his interview with The Mirror, said he did not think he would have to go to court after he gave a statement to police. He believed Stone would be acquitted.

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