Court hears details of Stormont murder bid
Court hears details of Stormont murder bid

Unionist serial killer Michael Stone planned to "slit the throats" of Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, Belfast Crown Court was told this week.

Charles Adair QC, prosecuting, said Stone told police after his arrest that he had been working as a "freelance" unionist paramilitary and had planned to assassinate the pair because he "couldn't handle" Sinn Féin being part of a power-sharing "bastardised" government.

But it has since been claimed by the defence that Stone's one-man armed assault on Belfast Assembly buildings on November 24 2006 -- the attempted first day of the new devolved government -- was an act of "performance art".

Stone denies attempting to murder Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness as well as 12 other charges of possessing nail and pipe bombs, three knives, an axe, a garotte [strangling device] and an imitation gun.

During a half-hour opening submission Mr Adair told Mr Justice Deeny, who is hearing the case without a jury, that Stone had planned his attack months beforehand.

He said Stone had armed himself with various bombs and weapons with a plan that "incorporated either using the nail-bomb devices to cause their deaths or by use of 'close quarters' using the knives and/or the garotte to kill Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness".

Mr Adair said the incident began at around 11am when a patrolling security guard spotted Stone spraying graffiti on the outside wall of Stormont.

The court was told that when asked what he was doing, "Stone produced a handgun, which turned out to be a replica gun, from inside his jacket and pointed it directly into his face".

The court was told that Stone shouted to the guard: "You better f****** run or you're a dead man."

The barrister said the graffiti read: "Sinn Féin/IRA war".

Mr Adair said it was at this point that Stone made his way to the revolving doors which lead into the main hallway of Parliament Buildings.

Mr Adair said security guard Susan Porter recognised Stone and her immediate thought was to stop him. As she tried to stop the doors from turning, Stone told her: "F****** back off or I'll shoot you"

As Stone forced his way into the hallway, which was filled with reporters and photographers, the guard noticed something poking out of a bag Stone had with him, "something like a cord" which fizzed after he lit it and kicked the bag towards the X-ray machine.

"Susan Porter made a grab for the gun and at this stage, or about this stage, he shouted 'no surrender' and made various comments about Paisley and Sinn Féin," Mr Adair said.

Mr Adair said Stone continued to shout various remarks during the ensuing struggle with security staff about "no power sharing with IRA, no power sharing with Sinn Féin".

He said Stone ended up face down on the ground with his shoe laces tied together and Ms Porter pleading with him to tell them what was in the bag.

Mr Adair said Stone replied: "It will go off - f****** get out of here" but that the guard told him "You will go up in it too" he replied: "What the f***, so be it - there's a timer on there, you've got five minutes."

Eventually the staff managed to drag Stone outside. He was again asked what was in the bag with the fizzing fuse and told the guards: "Everything, petrol, grenades - it's going to go up."

Mr Adair said when the security staffed searched Stone and the other bag he had been carrying they found a "substantial number" of explosive devices both on him and in the bag as well as three knives, a hatchet and a garotte.

He had been wearing a bullet-proof jacket under his clothing.

With Stone being held outside, the building was evacuated of politicians, media and staff.

Mr Adair said that while on the way to hospital Stone told police a number of times that he had "unfinished business with Adams and McGuinness" and said that he did not plan to hurt anyone except the two Sinn Féin members.

It was while he was in the hospital that Stone claimed to know the layout of Stormont and how his plan was to use a smoke bomb to create a diversion and then use "close quarter" tactics "to slit the throats of Adams and McGuinness".

Mr Adair said Stone revealed to police how he had walked through a forest for two hours before getting through a side gate into Stormont grounds, claiming it had taken him so long because of his poor physical condition.

Later during formal police interviews Stone declared: "I'm a dissident loyalist freelancing as I was back in 1988 before the UDA claimed me. I acted alone. I have no paramilitary connections whatsoever.

"In acting alone as a dissident loyalist I went there specifically to assassinate Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness who I see as war criminals. I went there to assassinate those two men - that's my only reason for going there.

He said that throughout police interviews Stone maintained that he had "two men, two targets" and that he worked alone, telling police that he believed if loyalist paramilitaries knew what he had planned "I would have been in a skip".

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