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Key piece of evidence in murders of Lin and Megan Russell is FOUND after being lost for 14 years

A key piece of evidence in the brutal murders of Lin and Megan Russell has been found more than a decade after being lost by police, according to reports.

A bootlace first discovered at the scene of the shocking 1996 killings in Chillenden, Kent, has been lost for the last 14 years.

But it has now been found and, according to lawyers of convicted killer Michael Stone, could be used to clear his name, the Sun reports.

Lin, aged 45, her two daughters, six-year-old Megan and nine-year-old Josie, as well as their dog Lucy, were tied up and savagely beaten with a hammer in a brutal attack which shocked the nation. 

Lin, Megan and dog Lucy died, while Josie survived the attack, which took place in 1996 as the family walked home along a country lane from a school swimming gala.

A bootlace found by detectives investigating the brutal murders of Lin and Megan Russell has reappeared years after being lost by police, it has today been reported

Stone, 61, was arrested in 1997 and convicted after trial of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. But he has always protested his innocence

The bootlace was discovered at the scene of the shocking 1996 killings in Chillenden, Kent, but has been lost for the last 14 years

Stone, 61, was arrested the following year and convicted after trial of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. But he has always protested his innocence.

A bootlace, used to tie up one of the girls, was dropped by the killer and later found at the scene by detectives.

Josie Russell (pictured) survived the brutal attack with head injuries

A small part of the lace was tested for DNA at the time. But, with the processes still in their infancy, the tests came back inconclusive.

Lawyers for Stone have repeatedly argued since 2007 for the whole lace to be tested.

But police have insisted that a large section of the lace no longer exists, having never been returned to police after forensic testing.

Police then reportedly said the lace had been tested to the point of destruction 1998.

But, according to the Sun, the larger lace section has now been found again - supposedly at a police station. 

The lace is now reportedly being tested by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) - an independent organisation set up to investigate suspected miscarriages of justice.

Stone's barrister, Michael Stone, told the Sun: 'Michael is hopeful the DNA tests will lead to the real perpetrator being found.'

Stone, a drug addict with prior convictions, was arrested a year after the attack and charged with the murders.

Lin, aged 45, her two daughters, six-year-old Megan and nine-year-old Josie and their dog Lucy, were tied up and savagely beaten with a hammer in a brutal attack which shocked the nation at the time

The lace is now reportedly being tested by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) - an independent organisation set up to investigate suspected miscarriages of justice. Pictured: Stone in prison in 2005

Lawyers for Stone have repeatedly argued since 2007 for the whole lace to be tested. But police have insisted that a large section of the lace no longer exists, having never been returned to police after forensic testing. Pictured: Police revisiting the scene in 2001

Though he has never confessed to the murders, triple killer Levi Bellfield (pictured) did in 2017. Bellfield was linked to the murders after he finally admitted to killing 13-year-old Milly Dowler

He was found guilty after two prisoners - one of them drug addict and convicted murderer Damian Daley - gave evidence for the prosecution, telling the court how Stone had confessed to him in prison. 

In 2001 he faced a retrial after one of the prisoners withdrew the claim against him.

However, he was found guilty once more and sentenced to three life-sentences.

He is due to finish his 25-year minimum term next year, but will not be allowed out because he has not confessed to the killings. 

Though he has never confessed to the murders, triple killer Levi Bellfield reportedly did in 2017.

Bellfield was linked to the murders after he finally admitted to killing 13-year-old Milly Dowler.

He also murdered 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell, and 22-year-old Amelie Delagrange.

And in 2017 he claimed he was the man behind the murder of Lin and Megan Russell.

However, he later retracted his confession and has never been charged.  

MailOnline contacted the CCRC and Kent Police for a statement last night.  

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