Conviction for murders of Lin and Megan Russell to be reviewed after serial killer's 'confession'

By John Mercury October 7, 2023

Michael Stone’s convictions for the murders of Lin Russell and her daughter Megan will be reviewed again after confessions from serial killer Levi Bellfield.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), an independent investigator of potential miscarriages of justice, said in July the case would not be referred to the Court of Appeal.

But the CCRC has agreed to carry out a further review following a request from Stone’s lawyers, who have said Milly Dowler’s killer Bellfield has made numerous statements confessing to the 1996 Russell murders.

Michael Stone pictured in 2001
Image:
Michael Stone pictured in 2001

Stone’s barrister Mark McDonald said: “We are pleased with the decision and hope that the CCRC deals with the review as a matter of urgency.

“Stone has been in prison for 26 years for a crime he did not commit and it is time for justice to be done and innocent man to be finally released.”

Metropolitan Police handout photo of Levi Bellfield in 2011
Image:
Serial killer Levi Bellfield pictured in 2011

Stone, 63, was handed three life sentences in 2001 after being found guilty of the murders of Ms Russell, 45, and her six-year-old daughter, who were found bludgeoned to death in Chillenden, Kent, in July 1996.

He was also sentenced for the attempted murder of Ms Russell’s other daughter, Josie, then nine, who suffered severe head injuries in the attack. The family’s dog, Lucy, was killed.

Stone has always maintained his innocence.

Bellfield, 55, is currently serving two whole-life terms for the murders of two young women, Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange, and schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Milly Dowler was murdered by Levi Bellfield
Image:
Milly Dowler was murdered by Levi Bellfield

Last year, he claimed responsibility for the Chillenden murders before later retracting his statement, and in April Stone’s lawyers said Bellfield had written and signed a fresh confession.

The CCRC said previous reviews had found “no credible evidence or argument that raised a real possibility of the convictions being quashed” and that those conclusions are not affected by the new review.

“We have agreed to a request from Mr Stone’s representatives to carry out a further review,” a CCRC spokesman said.

Read more:
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“While we can’t comment on the specifics of an investigation, it is not unusual for different reviews to focus on different arguments or evidence.

“Our commitment to thoroughly investigate all eligible applications extends to undertaking additional work related to cases we have previously reviewed.”

Bellfield was given a whole-life term for murdering 19-year-old Ms McDonnell in 2003 and 22-year-old Ms Delagrange in 2004, as well as trying to murder 18-year-old Kate Sheedy in the same year.

He was already serving his sentence when he went on trial for killing 13-year-old Milly Dowler, who was snatched while walking home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March 2002.

Bellfield was found guilty of abducting and killing the schoolgirl following a trial at the Old Bailey in 2011.

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