A man jailed for murder has been given fresh hope of clearing his name after Milly Dowler killer Levi Bellfield signed a written confession claiming responsibility for the brutal murders of Lin and Megan Russell in 1996.
The mother and daughter were tied up and savagely beaten to death when walking home from a swimming gala, with Michael Stone convicted of the crimes and imprisoned for life.
Now 62-year-old Stone, who has always denied his involvement, believes he could be set free after Bellfield’s latest statement which contains information about the Russell murders that only the killer would know.
Bellfield has previously confessed to the killings before backtracking, but this is the first time he has signed a written confession.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) are currently looking into the new revelations – written at the start of the year – which, according to his solicitor Theresa Clark, contain more details about the murders that shocked the country 27 years ago.
READ MORE: Serial Levi Bellfield killer to be quizzed over 1999 disappearance of Ealing student
She said: “All I can say is that he accepts responsibility.
“The statement made last year was never signed by him, but he’s subsequently done a written statement which he’s signed. This is a new and more detailed one.”
Stone was convicted after trials in 1998 and 2001 and told the Mirror from HMP Frankland: “I’ve been in prison for 26 years for a crime I did not commit.
“I know that he did those murders. He’s just revealed some information recently that’s come to me through lawyers.
“It’s information that he would only know if he had done it.”
Mum Lin, then 45, had been walking home from a swimming event with daughters Josie (nine) and Megan (six) in Chillenden, Kent, as well as their pet dog Lucy, on July 9, 1996, when they were approached by a man wielding a claw hammer and demanding money.
When told they had none, he tied them all up, blindfolded them and attacked them with the hammer, killing Lin, Megan and Lucy, but Josie somehow survived the horrifying ordeal and later recovered from her terrible injuries.
A year later, Stone was arrested on unrelated charges and after alleging to have confessed to fellow inmate Damien Daley in Canterbury prison, he was then charged with the murders of Lin and Megan.
He was found guilty in 1998, but three years later the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial after some major evidence was discredited. He was again found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
A further appeal was rejected in 2005, while in late 2006 a High Court judge ruled that he should serve at least 25 years before being considered for parole.
Last June it was reported that the CCRC was set to find there was no forensic evidence to connect Bellfield to the crimes, and that evidence had emerged that cast doubt on the credibility of his confession.
Stone’s sister Barbara, 61, told the Mirror of the development: “Bellfield continues to confess, providing more details each time he makes a statement.
“I’m not surprised he’s confessing to other murders. If he got away with that in 1996, he probably thought he could do what he liked until he got caught.
“Bellfield knew the area, and eyewitnesses saw him in Chillenden village on the day. The whole Bellfield evidence should be tested in court.”
Bellfield, 54, has also recently confessed to killing 19-year-old student Elizabeth Chau, who went missing in Ealing, in 1999.
The former nightclub bouncer killed Milly Dowler in Weybridge, in 2002, while he also murdered Marsha McDonnell, 19, near her home in Hampton, West London, in 2003 and French student Amelie Delagrange, 22, in 2004. He also attempted to murder Kate Sheedy, 18, in 2004.
A CCRC spokesman said of Stone’s case: “This case is currently under review and no final decision has yet been reached on the application.”