Lawyers for the man jailed for the 1996 Russell murders claim serial killer Levi Bellfield has confessed to the crimes for which their client was "wrongly" convicted.

Michael Stone is currently serving three life sentences for the murders of Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter, Megan, along with the attempted murder of Lin's nine-year-old daughter, Josie.

On Wednesday (29 November), his legal representatives claimed new evidence had emerged that could free Stone and thus render his jailing one the largest miscarriages of justice in decades.

They said Bellfield, who murdered three people, including schoolgirl Milly Dowler, had admitted the murders.

"We have now received evidence of a full confession by Levi Bellfield," his solicitor, Paul Bacon, told a press conference.

"He has admitted the Russell murders. In the confession, Bellfield describes how he came across Lin Russell and her two children, how he attacked them with a hammer, and he explains his motivation for the killings. The confession is detailed and has a number of facts which are not in the public domain.

"We have now conducted a full review of the case papers and have an independent witness who saw Levi Bellfield close to the scene of the murders at about the time they were committed.

"Importantly, we have identified forensic material from the scene of the murders which corroborates the confession made by Levi Bellfield."

Bacon said the evidence had been passed to the criminal cases review commission.

Stone's barrister, Mark McDonald, added: "This evidence needs to be tested by the court of appeal and, if believed, will lead to the largest miscarriage of justice since the Birmingham Six."

The Russells were attacked in the rural village of Chillenden, Kent in July 1996 as they walked their family dog.

They had been tied up by a man, blindfolded and then bludgeoned with a claw hammer one by one. Only Josie survived.

A year after the murders a tip off from a psychologist who worked at a local assessment centre led to the arrest of 36-year-old Stone, from Gillingham.

A heroin addict with a criminal past, he was convicted in 1998 despite no forensic evidence linking him to the crime.

Stone has always maintained his innocence but the jury believed the prosecution's case, which relied on three prison inmates who claimed Stone had confessed to having committed the crimes.

But soon after the trial one of the inmates admitted they had lied, while another was discredited.

michael stone
Michael Stone has always maintained his innocence over the Russell murders

A retrial was ordered and, in 2001, Stone once again received guilty verdicts and was handed three life sentences.

The conviction rested on evidence from the third inmate, Damien Daley, who held firm to his claim Stone had confessed the crime to him in detail.

As the judge addressed him, Stone cried out: "It wasn't me your Honour, I didn't do it!"

Convicted murderer Daley has since told numerous people that he lied to the jury, Stone's lawyers alleged.

It is not the first time Stone's lawyers have pointed to Bellfield as the likely real murderer.

Known as the bus stop killer, Bellfield is serving a whole-life tariff after being found guilty in 2011 of abducting and killing 13-year-old Milly Dowler in March 2002.

He also murdered Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell, and was sentenced for the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy.