September 2nd, 2014

Milltown killer Michael Stone on brink of release

Northern IrelandBy Jim McDowell
Michael Stone
Michael Stone

Milltown mass murderer and Stormont would-be assassin Michael Stone didn’t get the birthday present he has been craving for this week.

Last Wednesday, April 2, was his 59th birthday. 

And he was yearning for getting an early release date from behind bars at Her Majesty’s Prison Maghaberry.

But it didn’t happen. 

However, the Sunday World understands Stone, whose official release date is 2018, is negotiating to have his sentence drastically cut.

And our sources both at Stormont and in the Co. Antrim jail say it could succeed. 

Stone, a former UDA ‘Commanding Officer’ behind bars, is hoping to get four years taken off his sentence this time, for ‘good behaviour’. 

We understand plans are already under way to house Stone in a ‘safe environment’ in a new home if his bid to get out of jail early succeeds. 

And that could mean he is back on the streets within weeks. 

Yesterday, a Department of Justice spokesman would only say: “We do not comment on individual cases.”

Other Stormont sources say the official release date for Stone still remains at 2018. 

But our political and prison sources within Maghaberry say Stone is vying for early release, and that he is ‘confident’ of getting it. 

We also understand that someone very close to Stone is working with various authorities to try to get him somewhere to live, ‘a safe haven’, when he returns to civvy street. 

Said one source: “This time Stone means business. 

“When he first got out of jail in 2002 he publicly stated that, for him, the paramilitary war was over.

“The subsequent Stormont escapade shot that in the foot. 

“But now he is telling close friends and associates – and the officials who may allow him out of prison – that he is a ‘man of peace’.”

Stone's Stormont attack

As it stands, Michael Stone has served two marathon sentences at Maghaberry prison. 

The first lasted 12 years, after his conviction for the infamous gun and grenade attack at the funeral of the 

IRA’s Gibraltar Three at Milltown Cemetery in 1988. 

Stone copped a 30-year sentence then after pleading guilty to a catalogue of three sectarian killings. 

But he was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, signed at Easter 1998, although Stone had to wait another two years to be freed. 

He ‘settled down’ after that, taking up life as an artist – and exhibiting and selling paintings he’d done in jail, and others completed afterwards in a makeshift converted shop studio in East Belfast. 

His paintings from behind bars were ‘authenticated’ by his putting his thumbprint, in black ink, on the back of the canvasses. 

But that veneer of being an artist was shattered in 2006 – although Stone still tried to claim later in court that what happened then was another work of ‘performance art’.

That was when he single-handedly, and abortively, tried to storm the Stormont NI Assembly buildings to execute another headline-hogging terror act mimicking that of the Milltown Cemetery massacre. 

Stone tried to storm through the twin doors of Stormont armed with an imitation Beretta pistol, a knife and what was described as ‘a viable explosive device’. 

He had also planted eight pipe bombs around the grounds of Stormont. 

But, infamously, he got stuck in the swinging doors of the Assembly HQ. 

He was tackled and disarmed by civilian security guards. 

‘Artist’ Stone tried to claim the whole Stormont saga was an act of ‘performance art.’

But he had already written a letter to a newspaper in advance warning that he was on a ‘mission to kill’ Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. 

When he was convicted of attempted murder and other offences, he was jailed for a further 16 years. 

But his official release date is 2018 with standard remission – four years away. 

But our sources say Stone is negotiating to get out of prison early.

They say he has left his former, post Milltown massacre days in Maghaberry as UDA ‘CO’ in the prison ‘far behind him.’

And one Stormont political source said last night: “Michael Stone, if he succeeds in his ‘good behaviour’ bid to get out of jail early, could be back on the streets within a matter of weeks.”