After a 6 year battle through the courts, the report on Micheal Stone has finally been released.
In 1981, Stone received a two-year prison sentence for attacking a man with a hammer during the course of a robbery. In 1983 he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for two counts of actual bodily harm after stabbing a friend in the chest. In 1987 he was jailed again - this time for 10 years - for armed robbery on a building society in Brighton. He was released in 1993. In 1996, as they walk home along a country lane in Chillenden, near Canterbury, Kent, Dr Lin Russell and her two daughters were attacked by Stone wielding a hammer. Dr Russell and six-year-old Megan died while nine-year-old Josie survives with severe head injuries and brain damage.
Stone suffered from a personality disorder together with drug and alcohol abuse, which made his case complex. He could appear aggressive to one person and cooperative to another almost simultaneously. He had stopped taking medication and admitted to his psychiatric nurse he wanted to kill, days before the 1996 murders. He even appealed for help to tackle his addiction whilst on remand from one of his earlier convictions, but he was told to approach the addiction services on his release.
Yet, the conclusion of Robert Francis QC, the chair of the report, is
"emphatically not a case of a man with a dangerous personality disorder being generally ignored by agencies or left at large"
His history was clearly one of increasing violence, he asked openly for help, yet he was given none. Is there a case for changing the law, whereby those people with escallating violent tendencies are incarcerated until such time they pose no, or limited, danger to the public? Should the protection of the public take precedence over the protection of human rights of criminals?
There are those that would argue this man was ill and therefore prison was no place for him. But in this particular case, prison would have worked. However, one thing that should happen, is for prisons to address the mental health and drug addiction issues of the prisoners whilst they are in prison.
We shall return to this report soon.