Following a comprehensive review, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has concluded there is no real possibility that the Court of Appeal would overturn the convictions of Michael Stone for murder and attempted murder.
The CCRC is the independent investigator of potential miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and has referred more than 800 cases to the appellate courts since its creation in 1997.
Mr Stone was sentenced to life imprisonment in October 2001 at Nottingham Crown Court for the murders of Dr Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan, and of the attempted murder of Dr Russell’s nine-year-old daughter Josie, in July 1996.
A spokesperson for the CCRC said:
“Where a jury has chosen to convict a defendant, the Court of Appeal will only interfere if it can be shown that the conviction is unsafe.
“Our role is not to retry a case, but to consider whether there is new evidence or argument which may lead to a real possibility that the Court of Appeal would quash the conviction.
“We have identified no credible new evidence or information that raises a real possibility that Mr Stone’s conviction would not be upheld upon a reference to the Court of Appeal.”
The CCRC does not comment on the operational detail of its work, but makes the following comments due to the high public interest in this case:
- The CCRC’s thorough review included examining a substantial number of documents relating to Mr Stone’s case, including reports of alternative events and suspects, court transcripts and judgments, files from police forces and the Forensic Science Service.
- Interviews took place with officers from several police forces, and forensic tests were carried out.
- The CCRC has considered whether there are any further proportionate lines of inquiry with the prospect of yielding new evidence capable of making a difference to the safety of Mr Stone’s conviction. The CCRC has not identified any.
The findings of the CCRC’s detailed review have been shared in the usual way with the applicant and their legal representatives through a Statement of Reasons which explains why the case has not been referred, dealing thoroughly with all the points raised.
Mr Stone and his representatives had an opportunity to comment on the CCRC’s analysis and conclusions when a provisional Statement of Reasons was issued.
Notes to editors
- Only an applicant or their legal representative is permitted to share a CCRC Statement of Reasons with a third party.
- The CCRC is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
- There are currently 11 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
- The CCRC usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.
- The CCRC considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
- If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
- More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk. The CCRC can be found on Twitter @ccrcupdate and Instagram the_ccrc.