By Dave Macleod, Friday 26th May 2017
In 1996, a mother and her two young children were viciously attacked whilst walking down a country lane as they returned from a school swimming gala. The man repeatedly smashed them over the head with a hammer in an attack so violent the mother and one of her daughters died, whilst the other was so badly hurt, the assailant assumed she was dead. He even killed their dog. The truly awful ordeal, suffered by his victims, shocked the nation.
A year later, when an e-fit photo representing the man who had killed them appeared on TV, a psychiatrist contacted the police to say that it could have been his patient, Michael Stone.
Michael Stone was a highly disturbed, troubled man, a convicted armed robber and drug addict. His psychiatric nurse told police that five days before the Russell murders, he had told her he was going to kill. His medical notes were full of murderous threats and fantasies of torture. Stone consistently denied the murders, he had no alibi but admitted burning his clothes; however Police never found the murder weapon and there was no forensic evidence to place him at the scene.
In 1998, at the trial, it transpired that Stone had confessed committing the crime to three people. Stone was found guilty with the jury returning a majority verdict of 10 to 2.
On appeal, a retrial was ordered, after it emerged that two of the three witnesses, who claimed to have heard Stone confess were not telling the truth. Nevertheless, Stone was again found guilty by the jury. He appealed again, and once more, his appeal was dismissed.
His conviction has been described by one defence barrister as the ‘mother of all miscarriages of justice.’ Campaigners now say the evidence of the attacks and the original e-fit suggest the real assailant was serial killer Levi Bellfield who police have always suspected killed more of which he admitted. Those who believe Stone’s innocence want further DNA testing to be carried out to prove someone else was responsible and finally free a wrongfully convicted man.
Click here for more information about The Jury Room on CBS Reality, including the podcast, gallery and cast video biographies.
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