Dr Lin Russell and her two daughters are attacked by a man wielding a hammer as they walk home along a country lane in Chillenden, near Canterbury, Kent. Dr Russell and 6 year old Megan are killed while 9 year old Josie survives with severe head injuries and brain damage.
The BBC’s Crimewatch UK programme features the crime. The listing in the Radio Times reads “Tonight’s cases concern the murder of Lin Russell and her daughter in Kent...”
Josie, and her father Dr Shaun Russell, move from their family home in Kent to start a new life in North Wales. Her injuries leave her with speech problems and very little memory of the attack, but she begins to make a partial recovery.
Josie recovers enough to speak about the attack for the first time in an interview to police, which is videotaped and later presented as trial evidence.
A reconstruction of the crime is shown on Crimewatch UK the day before the first anniversary of the attack.
Michael Stone, from Gillingham, Kent, is arrested (on an unrelated charge) and held in the segregation wing of Canterbury gaol.
Josie Russell is awarded £18,500 by the independent Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. The award is widely condemned as derisory, and Home Secretary Jack Straw urges Dr Russell to appeal.
On appeal the award - for the loss of Josie’s mother and sister - is increased.
Michael Stone goes on trial, for the murders of Lin and Megan Russell, and the attempted murder of Josie, at Maidstone Crown Court.
The jury finds Stone guilty on all three counts by a 10-2 majority verdict, after nearly 15 hours of deliberation.
He is given three life sentences.
Prosecution witness Barry Thompson contacts several national newspapers telling them he had manufactured Stone’s alleged confession/boast about committing the murders, on the exercise yard at Elmley Prison. He is subsequently arrested on suspicion of perjury, but the case is not pursued.
Stone’s defence team lodge a formal application to appeal, and say they are “hopeful and optimistic” about their chances of being granted leave.
The Sun newspaper reports that Josie Russell has been awarded an extra £97,000 in compensation for her injuries and loss of future earnings.
The Court of Appeal grants Stone leave to appeal against conviction on account of Barry Thompson’s retraction.
The Court of Appeal rules that in the light of doubts over a key witness, the appeal “must succeed”.
The Court of Appeal quashes Stone’s convictions but orders a retrial.
Stone’s retrial begins at Nottingham Crown Court. The judge orders the media to refer to it as his second trial and bans them from making any mention of the outcome of his first trial.
Michael Stone is again convicted of the murders of Lin and Megan Russell and of the attempted murder of Josie Russell.
Mr Justice Treacy grants Stone leave to appeal.
Stone’s second appeal opens to a packed house in Court 5 at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The second appeal is summarily dismissed; outside the Court, Stone’s sister Barbara vows to fight on.
The full judgment is read in the appellant’s absence, Stone having declined to attend. Permission to appeal to the Lords is refused.