Sixteen years ago today, one of the most heinous double murders in modern British criminal history took place. About the only thing more shocking than the Chillenden Murders was the conviction of Michael Stone for the crime.
On the afternoon of July 9, 1996, a mother walked home along a quiet country lane in Kent from a swimming gala with her two young daughters and one of the family dogs. Dr Lin Russell was an academic; married to fellow academic Shaun Russell, she had a comfortable life and was clearly a very happy and contented person. Her two daughters, six year old Megan and nine year old Josie, would quite likely have followed in her footsteps and made both their parents proud. Within a few hours, that idyllic scenario would be shattered forever. That night, the bodies of all three were found battered almost beyond recognition, and all three appeared dead, but miraculously Josie was still alive. She was transported immediately to hospital where in spite of massive head injuries, which included losing some brain tissue, she made a remarkable recovery, although she had no meaningful memory of the attack or of her attacker(s).
She completed her education, qualifying in graphic design, and is now a successful commercial artist, having relocated to Wales with the father who obviously dotes on her. Recently, she gave an interview to the Sun newspaper for Father's Day.
Although father and daughter have rebuilt their lives, this is of course a story whose happy ending is blighted by the terrible loss of a mother and wife, daughter and sister. The conviction of a man for this terrible crime should have brought some closure for the other parties involved, particularly the police, but the truth is that the only people who believe in the guilt of Michael Stone are those who have a vested interest in doing so, psychological or otherwise.
He was arrested just after a year later, and on July 16, a week today, he will have spent 15 years behind bars convicted and unconvicted of the Chillenden Murders including remand and between his first trial and retrial. Stone was convicted on October 23, 1998, but this conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal on February 8, 2001. On October 4 that year he was convicted again. If the evidence at the first trial appeared weak, the evidence at the retrial was absolutely laughable. You can get a flavour of this so-called evidence here, and more detailed information on the two websites set up about the case. The second was set up by John Aidiniantz.
Stone's supporters believe the man responsible for the Chillenden Murders is Levi Bellfield, who was convicted of attacks on three young women including the August 2004 murder of French national Amélie Delagrange. Last year, Bellfield was convicted of a third murder; his appeal against that conviction was thrown out this February, a month after one of Michael Stone's supporters heckled the Leveson Inquiry.
Stone has been failed not merely by the criminal justice system including the Criminal Cases Review Commission, but by both common decency and common sense. There is surely no one in history who has been convicted of murder solely on the basis of a confession he is alleged to have shouted through a prison wall to the man in the next cell.
At the moment he is in limbo as what little physical evidence there was that might positively identify the Chillenden Murderer has been either lost permanently or temporarily mislaid by the forensic people. As things stand, it looks as though he will be behind bars for the rest of his life, unless and until there is some miracle, like the murder weapon turning up in a scrapyard under the driver's seat of a car once owned by Levi Bellfield.
If there is one lesson to be learned from this case, it is that none of us is safe from the tyranny to which we are being subjected by total surveillance and other police state tactics given spurious legitimacy by the war on terror, because if Stone can be convicted of a double murder on this non-evidence, we can any of us be convicted of any crime at any time on no evidence at all. Michael Stone remains known, rightly, as Britain's longest serving miscarriage of justice prisoner.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com