UK - Lin, 45, & Megan Russell, 6, Chillenden, Kent, 9 July 1996

Mrs Marple

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Has he mentioned in his statement that Lin told Josie to run and she got to the drive of a nearby house?
 

OrlandoJames

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My word…. I’ve got to post something…. I’ve always had HUGE reservations about Stone’s conviction. Damian Daley …. Known and infamous in my town. Wholly unreliable is the nicest thing that can be said. The fact the Bellfield was known to be in the area and the fact that only about 1 in 100million people are capable of doing this kind of thing, it just screamed likelihood to me. I’ve always thought this since knowing Daley was involved. If there was a carrot of a lesser or easier sentence, he would have no qualms about doing ANYTHING.
The thing that has always astonished me about this case is the credibility attached to Daley's evidence. While Michael Stone was in prison he asked to be put into solitary confinement because he felt that other prisoners were trying to trick him into saying something to incriminate himself. Yet we're supposed to believe that, having been granted his request, he then chose to make a full confession through the pipes in his cell to Daley.

It was originally claimed that his 'confession' included details of the crime scene that only the killer would know, but it then became apparent that all of the details Daley claimed to have heard from Stone had appeared in the Daily Mirror on the day of the alleged confession. How difficult would it have been for a prison guard to have slipped a copy of the paper into Daley's cell? Then there's the fact that Daley has apparently admitted his evidence was false to numerous acquaintances.

Josie Russell described the attacker as being tall, like her father (6ft) and having spiky blonde hair. Michael Stone was 5'7" and bald. Bellfield is 6ft and had spiky hair at the time, dyed blonde. All of the descriptions of the man in the beige car and acting suspiciously just after the killings are a closer match to Bellfield than Stone.

For a long time I've felt that one day this case will be revealed to have been one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British legal history. It looks like that day might be arriving soon.
 

alb1on

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To be fair @alb1on is was 4 officers from Maidstone - that's not indicative of endemic corruption.

Fair comment, but the direction of policing is set from the top and, at the time of the murders the Chief Constable of Kent was Sir David Phillips who was well known for his campaigning to (as he put it) 'rebalance' the justice system because (he claimed) too many guilty accused were being acquitted. He was at the forefront of pushing changes made by the Blair government when it came in. I am not suggesting he was doing more than taking a political stance, but that message from the very top would set the attitude throughout his force.
 

DFR3217

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What about Bellfield's alibi? He doesn't really seem like the sort of man who would have spent all day with his wife because it was her birthday. Both a watertight alibi, but also a very out of character one, in my view. Lin Russell wasn't blonde, allegedly he hated blondes, though I doubt that was enough of a red line to stop him if an opportunity arose, and Lin Russell walking home might have been enough of an opportunity for him. Just my early thoughts. Bellfield seems to have been close to confessing for a while, and a detective has suggested he might just be playing mind games, which may be true. I suppose we're just going to have to see what emerges now.
 

Spiderplant

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I hope for the family,the corroborating happens quickly, and they get some answers.

and may this confession, if true, and not some further act of narcissism, be the start of many he has yet to confess to, and bring those families some peace too.
 

Angleterre

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Whilst true, the weakness of the original case combined with this development should make it impossible to hold the conviction of Stone to the 'beyond reasonable doubt' standard.
Another factor which is often ignored is the appalling record of Kent police in 'fitting up' convictions. About 10 years ago a number of Kent officers were arrested for fiddling crime statistics by loading unsolved crimes onto suspects arrested for unrelated crimes. And given that those involved were up to Inspector level it is probable that even more senior officers were involved. The suggestion at the time was that this had been going on for years and was just the tip of an iceberg of dubious practice led from the top.
I know that reviews of this case have been carried out by other forces but it is essential that any further investigation in this case is carried out by a force and officers with unimpeachable integrity.
I don’t disagree about STONE but I wasn’t referring to him per se
I was just talking about LB overall and how he and his confession has to be handled carefully. With regards to the rest of your post, there’s a lot I could say about that practice but I had better keep my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself because I ALWAYS worked with integrity and when instructed to do something against my integrity and refused, I was told that my future promotion would suffer . That’s all I will openly say about that.
 

JuicyLucy

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Does anyone read anything of significance into the fact that Bellfield's confession was sent to Stone's defence team rather than offered to police? It seems odd to me. Like a game, maybe. Perhaps a game he's playing with Stone as much as with LE and the CJS. Uber suspicious of me I know, but I also find myself wondering if we can rely on its authenticity.

JMO

Levi Bellfield admits to murdering Lin and Megan Russell, say lawyers
 

Amonet

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Well l want to wait and see what happens next. I wouldn't be surprised if LB retracts it.

It doesn't really matter if he retracts it or not, IMHO. A confession can be only the tiniest part of getting a conviction on a crime, it can be a false confession, so you can't go solely by confessions.

He's got himself in the news again, congratulations, but unless he has managed to say something very convincing, I don't think it makes any difference. And how hard would it be to put out a knowingly faulty confession for the guilty person?

But if Stone is not guilty after all, that would be awful, and I really hope that's not the case. But it's one of those things where Bellfield 'feels' like a strong candidate for the crime and it certainly wouldn't be a shock to find out he did it.

I do feel that justice here is best served if the evidence is re-examined every now and then to see if anything new comes from it with new forensic techniques etc. I think that should be more of a part of the justice system even when a conviction has happened, I think some cases need that for 'justice' to truly be done and not just be seen to be done.
 

Rusty Braincells

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What about Bellfield's alibi? He doesn't really seem like the sort of man who would have spent all day with his wife because it was her birthday. Both a watertight alibi, but also a very out of character one, in my view. Lin Russell wasn't blonde, allegedly he hated blondes, though I doubt that was enough of a red line to stop him if an opportunity arose, and Lin Russell walking home might have been enough of an opportunity for him. Just my early thoughts. Bellfield seems to have been close to confessing for a while, and a detective has suggested he might just be playing mind games, which may be true. I suppose we're just going to have to see what emerges now.

It is an interesting one, but the alibi is from the ex-wife who helped put Bellfield in the frame for the Milly Dowler murder (so not someone who has avoided pointing the finger at LB before now) and she has reason to remember the day. Perhaps it’s less positive than it seems in terms of spending time with the wife: a family birthday might have typically meant drinking all day in the pub, for example, rather than “quality time” with the wife, and that’s what they did.
 

Kasmeer

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I believe him.

There was a documentary on BBC some years ago where a team of lawyers and legal experts re-examined the case of Michael Stone, and included phone conversations with Stone.

The evidence that was brought out on that really changed my viewpoint. Sure, he's not probably the type most of us would want to have as a friend, but there was nothing to convince me he was a killer.

This is going to be monumental if proven Stone was innocent all along.

That documentary totally convinced me that the conviction was questionable, to put it kindly - I do try to take such programmes with a pinch of salt when my knowledge is limited, as some seem quite good at downplaying/omitting important evidence, but in this case, I've tried to find what actually pointed to Stone's guilt outside of "confessions" which likely wouldn't be accepted today, and have failed. So when I saw yesterday's headline... wow!!

Like others I do wonder if Bellfield is playing games, but he's a more likely suspect than Stone, so if he really did do it, the sooner it's confirmed the better; leaving Stone to rot in prison for 25 years is a disgrace on our legal system. Sure, he was a nasty man, might even have ended up committing murder in the end... but is he responsible for this murder? I really doubt it, and even if he was, there is no way the evidence proves it beyond a reasonable level of doubt appropriate for a conviction.
 

Rusty Braincells

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Someone correct me if I’m wrong but the standard on appeal as I understand it, isn’t going back to “beyond reasonable doubt” but whether it can be shown that the conviction was unsafe.

At original trial, introducing other possible suspects can cause enough doubt in a jury’s mind for them to decide to acquit, but to overturn Stone’s conviction there will need to be more than the possibility of another suspect, and something more along the lines of concrete new evidence pointing away from him. Perhaps the shoelace will show Bellfield’s DNA. I’m ready & happy to be wrong, but I don’t think it will.

I see that another of Bellfield’s exes thinks he committed this crime and that he has now admitted it because his mother has died and he feels able to confess.
 
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OrlandoJames

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It is an interesting one, but the alibi is from the ex-wife who helped put Bellfield in the frame for the Milly Dowler murder (so not someone who has avoided pointing the finger at LB before now) and she has reason to remember the day. Perhaps it’s less positive than it seems in terms of spending time with the wife: a family birthday might have typically meant drinking all day in the pub, for example, rather than “quality time” with the wife, and that’s what they did.
I've often wondered about Jo Collings' 'alibi' for Bellfield. As you say, she's happily given evidence against him for other crimes so would seem very unlikely to provide a false alibi for this one. But it is common for people to celebrate their birthdays on days close to, but not on, their actual birthday. Is it not possible that Bellfield told her he was busy on her birthday so they celebrated it the day before or after, and she's just forgotten that detail? Or even that she's remembering how they celebrated her birthday the year before or after? The Chillenden murders occured in 1996 and Bellfield only emerged as a potential suspect in recent years. That's a long way back to remember - surely an innocent lapse in memory is plausible?
 

OrlandoJames

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Someone correct me if I’m wrong but the standard on appeal as I understand it, isn’t going back to “beyond reasonable doubt” but whether it can be shown that the conviction was unsafe.

At original trial, introducing other possible suspects can cause enough doubt in a jury’s mind for them to decide to acquit, but to overturn Stone’s conviction there will need to be more than the possibility of another suspect, and something more along the lines of concrete new evidence pointing away from him. Perhaps the shoelace will show Bellfield’s DNA. I’m ready & happy to be wrong, but I don’t think it will.

I see that another of Bellfield’s exes thinks he committed this crime and that he has now admitted it because his mother has died and he feels able to confess.
It may be that Bellfield fears the bootlace will have his DNA on it and has concluded that by admitting the crime now he has more control over the situation than if he's snared by the evidence.

Another small detail that I find interesting: Michael Stone is housed on the main wing at Durham's Frankland prison. He walks freely among the other convicts, which would be very unusual for somebody guilty of a crime like this. Bellfield is in the vulnerable prisoner's unit at the same jail. It seems that the other prisoners at the jail may believe that Stone has been framed, possibly based on what Bellfield has said while behind bars. It doesn't prove anything, but I find it interesting.

Ultimately I just keep coming back to the fact that Stone is in prison solely because of evidence provided by somebody who is well-known for being a liar and is a convicted murderer himself. I truly believe that in future years Stone's conviction will be held up as an example of how corrupt UK law enforcement was in the 1990s.
 

Amonet

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That documentary totally convinced me that the conviction was questionable, to put it kindly - I do try to take such programmes with a pinch of salt when my knowledge is limited, as some seem quite good at downplaying/omitting important evidence, but in this case, I've tried to find what actually pointed to Stone's guilt outside of "confessions" which likely wouldn't be accepted today, and have failed. So when I saw yesterday's headline... wow!!

Like others I do wonder if Bellfield is playing games, but he's a more likely suspect than Stone, so if he really did do it, the sooner it's confirmed the better; leaving Stone to rot in prison for 25 years is a disgrace on our legal system. Sure, he was a nasty man, might even have ended up committing murder in the end... but is he responsible for this murder? I really doubt it, and even if he was, there is no way the evidence proves it beyond a reasonable level of doubt appropriate for a conviction.

Stone has the history of violence, but it feels like a different 'kind' of violence...none of the others were going out looking for women and children to murder. That makes me wonder.
 
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