Stone to appeal jail sentence

Convicted UDA murderer Michael Stone has said he is to appeal the 16-year jail sentence handed down last week for the attempted murder of Sinn Féin leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams.

Speaking to journalists from Maghaberry prison, the Milltown cemetery killer has spoken of his regrets at his infamous attack on Stormont.

Stone, who killed three at a republican funeral in 1988 but released from jail early under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, claimed he never realised the attack would see him end up back in jail.

Stone, who hopes to be freed on appeal, continues to maintain the armed attack was an act of performance art.

The performance art explanation was dismissed by a judge at Belfast Crown Court as “wholly unconvincing”.

Stone, who has become isolated from his former comrades in the UDA, said he fears he could die in prison.

“I could be 70 by the time they decide to release me, if they ever do. They want to hang on to me forever.

“I believe there are political fingerprints all over this. I have become a political embarrassment.

“I am appealing all charges and hope the appeal is successful. This verdict is an injustice. I am very disappointed and I will fight this verdict forever.”

The notorious loyalist claims his weapons on the day of the attack were “props” for his act. He also denies that the bombs could have caused serious damage.

He added: “I support devolution and supported it the day I went to Stormont. I was there doing the performance art as a protest against the fact that there was going to be no progress that day. They were still in deadlock then.

“I am glad that devolution came about later. I never intended harming anyone.

“How could I have ever got into the Assembly chamber or near them? It took me two hours walking up the mile long Prince of Wales Avenue alone. I was in agony, I crawled part of it.

“Also if I was going to kill them why swap the magazine of the starting pistol for a piece of sponge. The sponge was to represent Harold Wilson’s speech when he referred to people here as spongers over 30 years ago.

“It may have been eccentric but I was not carrying any bombs, they were flash-bangs. They were a simulation.

“I intended to take the rockets to as close to Parliament Buildings as I could get and set them off, like a firework display.

“It was black humour but it has backfired on me.”

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