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stone cold Families of innocent victims lash out after release of Milltown killer Michael Stone

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Michael Stone was released from prison on parole yesterday Pic: Sunday World

Michael Stone was released from prison on parole yesterday Pic: Sunday World

RODWELL/BELFAST: 17/8/01:   Michael Stone peers out through security bars in his Ballybeen artist studio. He has had to move studios this weekend after dissident republicans were seen targetting him in the estate.   
PHOTO: CRISPIN RODWELL

RODWELL/BELFAST: 17/8/01: Michael Stone peers out through security bars in his Ballybeen artist studio. He has had to move studios this weekend after dissident republicans were seen targetting him in the estate. PHOTO: CRISPIN RODWELL

RODWELL/BELFAST: 17/8/01:   Michael Stone peers out through security bars in his Ballybeen artist studio. He has had to move studios this weekend after dissident republicans were seen targetting him in the estate.   
PHOTO: CRISPIN RODWELL

RODWELL/BELFAST: 17/8/01: Michael Stone peers out through security bars in his Ballybeen artist studio. He has had to move studios this weekend after dissident republicans were seen targetting him in the estate. PHOTO: CRISPIN RODWELL

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Michael Stone was released from prison on parole yesterday Pic: Sunday World

The families of the victims of loyalist terrorist Michael Stone have spoken of their anger after his release from prison.

Stone was released from HMP Maghaberry yesterday after he applied for parole last November.

News of his release emerged last night but it is understood he was released earlier in the day after the decision to free him was made on Monday.

The Milltown Cemetery killer infamously launched a gun and grenade attack, killing three, at the funeral of the ‘Gibraltar Three’ IRA terrorists in 1988, who had been shot dead by the SAS as they tried to mount a car bomb attack in the British overseas territory.

He was later released in July 2000, after 13 years, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, having previously been sentenced to 30 years for the attack.

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Michael Stone takes aim during his attack on Milltown Cemetery

Michael Stone takes aim during his attack on Milltown Cemetery

Michael Stone takes aim during his attack on Milltown Cemetery

After his release, in November 2006, Stone launched another ‘lone wolf’ attack on Stormont buildings armed with an imitation gun, having placed pipe bombs around the grounds of Northern Ireland's seat of power, before being restrained by security guards.

In 2008 he was found guilty of trying to murder Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in the incident, however in court he claimed that it was "a piece of performance art replicating a terrorist attack".

The family of Thomas McErlean ,who was killed by Stone at Milltown, took legal action in a bid to block the ex-UDA man’s early release from prison, but failed.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: "Our family are denied the chance to heal whilst he refuses to answer questions about which parts of the state armed and assisted him with so many murders.

"As a family we continue to love, miss and remember Thomas, and call for a proper investigation into his death that will reveal the truth about state collusion and loyalist paramilitaries. The victims’ families need to be the focus rather than Michael Stone."

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Thomas McErlean was killed at Milltown Cemetery

Thomas McErlean was killed at Milltown Cemetery

Thomas McErlean was killed at Milltown Cemetery

After the Milltown attack, in which he also killed John Murray and Kevin Brady, Stone was subsequently found guilty of the murder of Dermot Hackett, who was found dead in his bread delivery van in 1987, Patrick Brady in 1984 and Kevin McPolin in 1985.

Mr Hackett's family said in a statement: "Whilst Michael Stone served a prison sentence for the murder many questions remain unanswered, particularly around his relationship with the state. Michael Stone most definitely did not act alone, the role of the state and in particular RUC special branch and British Military Intelligence remain to be clarified."

Stone had not been due for release until 2024 and had failed in an early bid for parole.

However, it was agreed that he could apply again last year and an attempt to block his application failed on the grounds that it would "constitute an interference with the physical liberty of the prisoner" to keep him behind bars for another three years.

It is understood Stone suffers from various medical conditions.

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