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granted freedom Milltown killer Michael Stone sent home to die

Milltown killer is now a frail shadow of the cold-blooded hitman of 1988

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Michael Stone is seen as a hero to many loyalists but a loose cannon to many others

Michael Stone is seen as a hero to many loyalists but a loose cannon to many others

Michael Stone during his attack on Milltown Cemetary

Michael Stone during his attack on Milltown Cemetary

Michael Stone trying to enter Stormont

Michael Stone trying to enter Stormont

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Michael Stone is seen as a hero to many loyalists but a loose cannon to many others

Milltown killer Michael Stone has been sent home to die.

The notorious loyalist freed into the care of wife Karen this week is a shell of a man compared to the marauding killer who left three dead and 60 injured in his wake as he shot and bombed his way through the funerals of three IRA members shot by the SAS in Gibraltar.

Time since 1988 has not been kind to the now 65-year-old.

The paramilitary pensioner can barely walk and relies on a wheelchair and zimmerframe to get around – thanks to a badly damaged hip due largely to the kicking he received when mourners caught up with him as he made a break for safety before being rescued by police.

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Michael Stone during his attack on Milltown Cemetary

Michael Stone during his attack on Milltown Cemetary

Michael Stone during his attack on Milltown Cemetary

He suffers a heart condition and lives with the Charcot Marie Tooth disease, a relatively rare condition that results in damage to the nerves that send signals to the brain and spinal cord which in turn affects muscles and can result in difficulties in walking and in some cases hand and arm movement.

Stone had not been due for release until 2024, but the Sunday World understands he has been granted freedom because of his chronic health.

This week Parole Commissioners were ordered to reveal the reasoning for their decision to release one of the most notorious killers in the North’s troubled history.

In a statement released on his behalf two years ago as he sought early release he described himself as a ‘model prisoner’ and that he was no threat to anyone on the outside.

“I am not the lively 30-year-old that we see on TV running through Milltown,” he said.

“I am a 63-year-old man with heart, blood pressure and mobility issues related to my muscular dystrophy.

“In fact when coming out for paroles or even to attend a weekly visit, I was transported in a minibus with a wheelchair hoist.

“I can no longer manage steps and risk an irreparable injury if I were to fall. Further prison would only be detrimental. I am not a danger to anyone.”

Stone enjoys iconic status within loyalist circles, yet divides opinion. To many he is the fearful lone ‘soldier’ who singlehandedly took on the IRA, to others he was a reckless psychopathic killer, too extreme even for the UDA.

He was hailed a hero when released from the Maze under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), emerging from the prison gates to a cheering crowd before being whisked away.

The Sunday World understands the terror group’s leadership is anxious to preserve the public image of Stone as a fearless marauder.

It’s an image that was already damaged with his bizarre raid on Parliament Buildings at Stormont in 2006.

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Michael Stone trying to enter Stormont

Michael Stone trying to enter Stormont

Michael Stone trying to enter Stormont

Security guards managed to hold a flailing Stone as he tried to force his way through the front entrance on a mission to attack and kill then Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness – one of his intended targets at the Milltown attack.

He insisted his stunt was a piece of performance art, but he was armed and was carrying a bag which contained dud explosive devices.

Speaking to the Sunday World shortly after his GFA release, he described in detail the Milltown attack. He expressed no regret and insisted he was a “soldier” on a military mission.

He told us how he stripped and cleaned his guns the night before. He polished his boots and laid out what he was going to wear before going to bed.

After a breakfast of porridge he made his bed “like any good soldier” before pocketing the grenades and handgun he would use to maim and murder.

Having taken a bus into the city centre, he shared a black taxi with people who were going to the funerals of IRA volunteers Mairead Farrell, Daniel McCann and Sean Savage.

Little did his fellow passengers know the man sharing their taxi was armed to the teeth.

“It was easy,” he told us at the time, “I chatted away to them, they had no idea.

“I had a mission,” he said, “and it was to cut the head off the snake, in other words take out (Gerry) Adams and McGuinness.”

At one stage he said he was yards from his intended targets, and that his greatest regret was not being able to properly carry out his mission. He also described as ‘brave’ the crowd that pursued him as he fled the scene, including Thomas McErlean, John Murray and IRA member Kevin Brady – all shot dead by Stone.

“The UDA doesn’t want the last image of Stone to be this broken shell of a man, sitting in a wheelchair with a white beard,” a UDA source told us this week.

He said they expect the mass killer to settle into the quiet life – away from the public gaze.

“It’s not the time for Stoner to open up about the past, they’ll be hoping he goes quietly.”

It is understood he and wife-of-five-years Karen will live in the North Down area or the Ards Peninsula.

“His health is going to leave him mostly housebound,” said our source.

“He’s in a high risk category with Covid and the restrictions in place, he doesn’t have any options.”

It is understood police will be monitoring his situation, further restricting any chances of movement.

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