Irish Republican News · January 3, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Stone claims he was ‘artist in residence’

The assault on the Belfast Assembly buildings by notorious unionist paramilitary killer Michael Stone was a work of art, he has claimed.

The 52-year-old former UDA hitman made the claim yesterday as he denied a total of 14 charges including attempting to assassinate Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Stone was stopped and disarmed at the doors of Stormont parliamentary buildings on November 24 last year, moments after he flung a hissing device into the lobby of the Assembly, which had to be evacuated. The incident was captured by television crews and made international headlines.

At the time of the incident, former paralitary associates described Stone as being “pathetic”, “deranged”, and seeking publicity.

Stone, appearing before Belfast Crown Court, pleaded not guilty to the first 11 counts when he declared artistic privilege.

As the 12th charge, of causing criminal damage to a wall and the revolving doors of Parliament Buildings, was put to him Stone, who hobbled into court with the aid of a crutch, said he had been acting “in defence of an artist’s express right of freedom of expression”.

After being told by the judge to confine his remarks to answering the charges or he would be removed from the court, Stone replied: “Not guilty” as he did to the two remaining charges.

Charles MacCreanor, defending Stone, told the court that when Stone comes to trial next April that the case has the potential of being a lengthy affair of up to four weeks or more.

He said that in preparation of Stone’s trial they were looking for experts in the fields of forensics, ballistics, engineering and also in support of his defence of being an “artist in residence”.

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© 2008 Irish Republican News