Michael Stone is a fairly common name, so common in fact that there are two people so named serving life sentences in the UK alone. One is a “Loyalist” terrorist who murdered six people. Forget about him, he’s a nutter. The other is the man convicted of the 1996 Chillenden Murders on the most ludicrous “evidence” presented in an English courtroom since the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612.
The full background to this horrible case can be found on the two dedicated Michael Stone websites: IsMichaelStoneGuilty Dot Info and Michael Stone Dot Co Dot UK. For those who prefer to watch or listen rather than read, there is plenty of footage on the video hub of the world, but briefly:
Dr Lin Russell, her two daughters and one of the family dogs were attacked on a country lane in July 1996. Her elder daughter Josie survived but was unable to give the police any meaningful information about the attacker. Small time drug dealer, drug addict and professional criminal Michael Stone was arrested a year later on an unrelated charge, and a year after that he was convicted not on any proper evidence but on confessions he was alleged to have made to other prisoners while being held on remand, something known in the United States as “snitch culture”.
Immediately after his conviction, one of the men to whom he was meant to have confessed went to the media and admitted he’d made it all up. This resulted in an appeal which the Court Of Appeal said “must succeed”, and at the end, a retrial was ordered. This is where things go from silly to outright corrupt, the Crown elected to retry Stone solely on the “evidence” of career criminal Damien Daley. Stone was alleged to have shouted this confession through a prison wall while in segregation.
At the first trial, defence counsel William Clegg elected not to put his client on the stand. Had he done so, Stone would most likely have been cross-examined on his previous convictions, which included two very serious assaults with weapons, both on men. After his conviction, all this and more was splashed across the media, and it is inconceivable that at least some of the jurors would not have been familiar with this very high profile case. In spite of this, Clegg advised Stone not to testify, and again he remained silent. Had he taken the stand, he might well have been cleared.
Since then there have been several developments, two of the most important are the conviction of Damien Daley for murder, and prior to that the emergence of a much better suspect, the odious Levi Bellfield, a convicted serial killer with a long history of attacks on women. Michael Stone’s crimes were committed for material gain, were drug related, or in the case of the two assaults on men, were clearly of a non-sexual nature. Indeed, paradoxically they suggest Stone is not the type of man to murder a woman and her young daughter because in the first instance his victim was a child sexual abuser, and in the second, Stone was white knighting.
Although Stone was not the kind of man any woman would like to meet in a dark alley, it is extremely doubtful if he could have dominated Lin Russell, her two daughters and the dog. Unless their attacker were armed with a gun, a woman like her would have defended her daughters without concern for her own life, one of them would surely have escaped, and let us not forget the dog. On the other hand, Levi Bellfield is the kind of thug who could have done this, indeed if his former lover Johanna Collings is to be believed, he made a habit of it.
After more than two decades behind bars, Michael Stone has not given up on appealing his unwarranted conviction, and apart from the obvious absurdity of the “evidence” presented in the courtroom, there has been clear chicanery such as the loss or disappearance of exhibits which if tested for DNA might clear him. It is possible too he had an alibi for the murders because that same afternoon he made a telephone call to his mother’s house from a location far away. Even in 1996, meta data from UK telephone calls was available, and this data will have been archived, yet access to it has been blocked.
There has recently been controversy over an alleged confession Levi Bellfield is said to have made to another prisoner, serial rapist Richard Baker. This was all over the media in 2017, but no sooner had the story broke than Bellfield himself denied the confession emphatically. In contrast to that, he did eventually confess to the rape, torture and murder of Amanda Dowler, but the details of that confession were so graphic that there can be no doubt it was made solely with the intention of inflicting further suffering on the Dowler family. And even more recently he is said to have hinted that he did indeed commit the Chillenden Murders, but without meaningful corroboration any sort of confession from him is worthless.
Whether or not Levi Bellfield committed the Chillenden Murders, the conviction that Michael Stone did not has only grown over the years. Last November he appeared to face yet another legal setback, but in a telephone call from Frankland Prison last night, he was optimistic about eventually walking to freedom. He did though say he had been banned from talking to the press. The reason for this ban cannot be disclosed, suffice it to say this is more BS from the authorities.
For those interested, Michael Stone can be contacted via the emailaprisoner service: Michael Stone A5082AC.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.