Stone-cold hitman

'He showed no remorse,' say relatives of Deane Fuller-Sandys of a restorative justice meeting with double murderer Stephen Stone.
'He showed no remorse,' say relatives of Deane Fuller-Sandys of a restorative justice meeting with double murderer Stephen Stone.

Wayne Fuller-Sandys has had to wait 21 years to look into the eyes of his younger brother's brutal killer – former Black Power enforcer Stephen Stone.

But he feels betrayed after the restorative justice meeting with the man who pumped young tyre-fitter Deane Fuller-Sandys with bullets, then making a roomfull of witnesses do the same.

The reason Wayne agreed to the encounter with Stone, at Wellington's Rimutaka Prison, was to finally learn where Deane's body was hidden.

Deane Fuller-Sandys loved fishing.
Deane Fuller-Sandys loved fishing.

Their father died three years ago without being able to bury his 21-year-old boy.

"He [Stone] admitted to killing [Deane], but he said he didn't dispose of him," an unbelieving Wayne told Sunday News.

"He said he can't tell us where Deane is. He was pointing the finger at other people.

Murdered prostitute Leah Stephens, whose remains were found in the Woodhill Forest in 1992.
Murdered prostitute Leah Stephens, whose remains were found in the Woodhill Forest in 1992.

"He reckons he shot him and left him there... other people in the house disposed of him."

In 1999, Stone and former prostitute Gail Maney, who was accused of getting the gangster to "hit" Deane because she believed he had stolen her drugs, were both found guilty of his murder.

Two other men were jailed that year for helping dispose of Deane's body. But no-one has ever revealed the burial site.

Wayne, who travelled to Rimutaka with other family members, fears their attending the restorative justice meeting will aid Stone's eventual bid for freedom.

"It was just a waste of time. It does nothing [for us] but it does go into his parole [bid], saying he has... met the victims," Wayne said. "I said I hope it didn't get him released."

Stone, who went before the Parole Board on February 19, is serving life imprisonment for murdering Deane and 20-year-old prostitute Leah Stephens – who he feared was about to nark after witnessing the shooting.

Stone was also sentenced to a 10-year concurrent sentence for raping Leah, before he fatally stabbed her in the stomach and slit her throat.

The Parole Board decision noted 40-year-old Stone had been told in 2009 that if he wrote to the his victims' families, "acknowledging responsibility for the terrible crimes he committed" it would be a step nearer to gaining his freedom.

"To his credit, he has taken up those suggestions," the board said. It also said it had discussed the possibility of him being involved in restorative justice meetings with victims.

Wayne said he and his family members quizzed Stone about Deane's final moments.

"He showed no remorse but he did admit to it. It was like a recording – everything he said was just the same, repetitive [explanation] all the time like he had been coached into what he would say," Wayne said.

"He said it [Deane's murder] didn't happen like that [how it was described in court]. He said that was all concocted to make him look like an evil person."

Deane's killing and Leah's six days later were sickening.

Lured to Maney's suburban west Auckland house on August 21, 1989, Deane was gunned down by Stone several times before he handed the weapon to the witnesses and ordered them to shoot him as well.

One of the onlookers was Leah, who less than a week later was snatched from Auckland's Queen St, and raped and murdered by Stone to "silence" her.

Deane's family had thought he had been washed off the rocks while surfcasting at Whatipu, on Auckland's west coast. His abandoned car was found there.

Leah's remains were found on the outskirts of Woodhill Forest, north-west of Auckland, in 1992.

Police launched a homicide inquiry in 1997 after rumours of the double murder emerged from the criminal underworld.

In May of that year, Stone killed Hazel Bennett, 70, in a horror crash at Dairy Flat, north of Auckland, after his car crossed the centre line of SH1.

He was convicted of careless use of a motor vehicle causing death, fined and sentenced to periodic detention.

Learning the police were investigating his involvement in Deane and Leah's deaths, he checked himself out of hospital. He was arrested in July.

Wayne said he had felt nothing but disgust towards the people involved in his brother's slaying.

"They are just mongrels," he said. "[Stone] is not a person who will ever reform... he is just too evil."

A police spokeswoman said the hunt for Deane's remains would remain open.

But it rested on someone coming forward with information as to where he was buried.

"Even 20 years down the track we can uncover the body," she said.

"If there is anyone out there with information then maybe it is time to give it up."

Since the restorative justice meeting, Stone has been transferred back to Auckland's Paremoremo Prison – where Wayne says he is now a crane operator on a jail work scheme.

In December 1999, Maney was granted a retrial after the Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge had not fairly summed up her defence case.

But on June 1, 2000, she was again found guilty of Deane's murder and sentenced to life with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.

Now aged 43, she is set to front the Parole Board later this month. Her release bid was declined at her initial apperance, 12 months ago.

A report of the 2009 hearing revealed "she has always denied her offending and maintains her innocence to this day".

The report said Maney had done "extremely well" in prison.

She had been in self-care units for two and a half years and had gained a degree in applied psychology.

Her release plan – which was rejected – included being able to live with a friend who was a "convicted drug dealer".

But the board did support her introduction into the Release to Work programme and other possible temporary releases from prison, including day leave.

Sunday News