Michael Stone (murderer)
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Michael Stone (born Michael John Goodban in 1960) is a British man who was convicted of a notorious double murder in 1996. He has continued to assert his innocence. His original conviction was overturned on appeal but a second trial resulted in another verdict of guilty after another prisoner claimed that Stone had confessed to the killings while on remand in jail. His most recent appeal, in 2004, also failed.
One of five children, Stone was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1960. He had a turbulent childhood, with his parents separating and his mother marrying a total of four times. He was placed into a care home where he was physically and sexually abused. Stone's police record dates back to the age of 12 and he became involved in shoplifting and burglary which continued into adulthood. Once leaving the care system Stone began using heroin.
Stone served three prison sentences in the 1980s for robbery, grievous bodily harm and assault.
On 9 July 1996, in a country lane in Chillenden, Kent, Lin Russell, aged forty-five, her two daughters, six-year-old Megan and nine-year-old Josie and their dog Lucy, were tied up and savagely beaten with a hammer in a robbery attempt. Lin, Megan and their dog Lucy were killed but, despite appalling head injuries, Josie survived and went on to make an excellent recovery. Josie's recovery and the way she and her father, Shaun Russell, coped with the aftermath of the tragedy were the subject of a BBC documentary. Father and daughter had by then moved to the Nantlle Valley in Gwynedd.
Trial and consequences
The crime received a great deal of publicity and in July 1997 police arrested and charged thirty-seven-year-old Michael Stone with the crimes. Stone pleaded not guilty at his original trial in 1998 but was convicted on the strength of testimony from a witness who claimed that he had confessed to them while in jail. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
It was later determined that Stone had previous convictions and had been diagnosed as a psychopath, and in the light of his conviction the Labour government suggested a plan to reform the Mental Health Act 1983. Their proposal sought to reform the 1983 MHA's "treatability test," which stated that only patients whose mental disorders were considered treatable could be detained. Because certain types of personality disorder are not considered treatable, patients with these conditions, including Michael Stone, could not be detained. In response to the Michael Stone case and other widely publicised reports of mentally ill people committing atrocious crimes, the government wanted to allow those diagnosed with schizophrenia or personality disorders with a tendency towards violence to be detained against their will in mental health hospitals without having actually committed a crime. The reforms, ultimately enacted in 2007, changed the "treatability test" into an "appropriate medical treatment test." Under this new test, patients can be detained against their wishes as long as there is a medical treatment available to them that can alleviate or prevent the worsening of the disorder or one or more of its symptoms. There is no longer a requirement that treatments actually work, nor is there a requirement that patients participate in the treatment (ex: with talking therapies and other therapies that require active participation by the patient), merely that the treatment is considered appropriate, and is readily available to the patient.
Appeals and later developments
The Court of Appeal later ordered a retrial after a key prosecution witness went back on his evidence, but Stone was convicted a second time in 2001. Lawyers for Stone once again argued that his trial was not fair, this time because of the way the trial judge had summed up the case. Stone lost, and his life imprisonment term stands. On 21 December 2006, a High Court judge decided that Stone should spend at least 25 years in prison before being considered for parole, meaning he is likely to remain behind bars until at least 2023 and the age of 63.
Stone continues to argue that his conviction is a miscarriage of justice on the grounds that the evidence against him came from another prisoner who, even though he "would lie when it suited him" had nothing to gain by lying about Stone. In 2010 the CCRC announced that they would not refer the case back to the Court of Appeal because they had found no new evidence to justify making a referral. Stone had asked the CCRC to re-examine a 1 metre long boot lace which had been dropped at the scene of the crime by the murderer. It had DNA from a number of males which could not be linked to Stone. The prosecution at trial had argued that the DNA must have belonged to one of Stone's friends. The lace however proved to be missing and so the CCRC were not able to re-examine it using modern DNA techniques. They did re-examine the ends of a swimming towel which had belonged to the victims and which had been torn into six strips by the perpetrator. Male DNA readings were detected at both ends of the strips, but the DNA once again did not belong to Stone, who has argued that Levi Bellfield should be investigated for the killings.
A report into the murders for which Stone was convicted has made a number of criticisms of his care, including a failure to share information between agencies.
- 4 December 2002: The website IsMichaelStoneGuilty opens
- 21 May 2003: The Michael Stone website moves to its own domain; later another supporter opens a similar site
- 9 January 2012: A Michael Stone supporter interrupts the Leveson Inquiry.
- "Stone 'lost in world of drugs'". BBC News. 4 October 2001.
- Russells' new life after murders BBC, 19 January 2005
- Jackson, Emily (2009). Medical Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
- Stone to serve at least 100 years BBC, 21 December 2006
- Wright, Stephen; Greenwood, Chris (24 June 2011). "Did Milly's murderer kill Lin and Megan Russell". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 16 July 2011.
- "Peace at last for Russell family". BBC. 19 Jan 2005. Retrieved 3 April 2010.
- "Michael Stone fails in judicial review bid". BBC News. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2011.
- Wright, Stephen; Greenwood, Chris (24 June 2011). "Did Milly's murderer kill Lin and Megan Russell? Police face demands to reopen investigation into fatal hammer attack". Daily Mail (London).
- "Stone 'spoke of desire to kill'". BBC News. 25 September 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.