Stone’s conviction upheld
Stone’s conviction upheld

Loyalist killer Michael Stone has failed in his attempt to overturn convictions for trying to assassinate Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

The Court of Appeal upheld a verdict that his actions at Stormont in November 2006 were capable of constituting an attempt to murder them.

Stone claimed to have been engaged in an act of performance art when he went to Stormont on the day Ian Paisley and Mr McGuinness were due to be nominated as the North’s First and Deputy First Ministers.

He was armed with knives, an axe, garrotte and a flight bag containing explosive fireworks, flammable liquids, a butane gas canister and fuses.

Stone, who suffers from a motor neuron disease, was easily overpowered after trying to ignite the bag and throw it into the main foyer.

He was shouting remarks about Sinn Fein and Mr Paisley and “no power sharing with IRA”.

Stone was jailed for 16 years for the attempted murders and other offences including possessing explosives.

Following his arrest Stone, who was wearing a flak jacket, told police he had planned to enter the debating chamber at Stormont, use a smoke bomb as a diversion, and then slit the throats of Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness.

Eight devices were discovered, with explosives experts declaring some of them capable of injuring anyone standing within five to ten metres. Another could have created a fireball capable of causing severe burns.

Stone had written two letters to journalists stating that by the time they received them he would either be in jail for the rest of his life or, more probably, dead, because he was set on his mission to assassinate Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness.

Judge Declan Morgan said Stone had used explosives to create a diversion which would enable him to enter the Assembly chamber and seek out his targets.

Morgan said: “We are satisfied that the lighting of a fuse can be said to be part of the execution or implementation of the plan to kill Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness and thereby more than merely preparatory to the implementation of that plan.”

Stone’s assault on Stormont came six years after he was released early from a life sentence under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He had been jailed for a 1988 gun and grenade attack on an IRA funeral at Milltown Cemetery, west Belfast in which three men were killed.

Stone sat impassively throughout today’s judgment after being escorted into court.

Before being returned to custody he shouted: “The truth will out, gentlemen, believe me.”

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