Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Killer Michael Stone says he is 'sorry' for Milltown murders

Milltown Massacre gunman Michael Stone has expressed his sorrow in a statement issued to Sunday Life the day after Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ordered he stay in jail until at least December 2024.

But even then his release isn’t guaranteed as he will have to convince a parole board that he should be freed.

Last Monday 58-year-old Stone was told he would have to serve the remainder of a minimum 30-year term given for six sectarian killings committed in the 1980s.

The ex-UDA man, who was freed under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 2000 but returned to jail in 2006 for trying to kill Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Stormont, said the judgment “wasn't unexpected”.

He added: “I'm annoyed at the judge stating that I had shown no remorse for my actions when I stated in my autobiography that I expressed remorse and regret for the lives lost.

“Taking the law into my own hands was wrong, but I see myself as a political prisoner and I'm glad the judge acknowledged my actions were politically motivated.

“Recently Martin McGuinness said the republican cause was just.

“I see the loyalist cause as just but see Troubles related deaths as regrettable.”

Hours after Stone was told he would spend at least the next five years behind bars in Maghaberry Prison the brother of one of his six Catholic victims branded the loyalist a “publicity seeker”.

Roddy Hackett — whose brother Dermot Hackett was shot 16 times by the UFF in Co Tyrone in 1987 — said: “In my opinion he simply craves the limelight.

“He wants notoriety in whatever form he can get it. He doesn’t seem to be able to exist outside of prison so that’s the best place for him.

“He is better locked up, for his own safety as much as anyone’s.”

Roddy met Stone in 2006 during the filming of the BBC's Face the Truth documentary in which paramilitaries came face to face with the families of their victims.

The multiple killer told Sunday Life the encounter had a major effect on him and that he was “upset” afterwards.

Stone also insists that he will not be contesting the decision to keep him in prison and has ordered his family not to campaign for his release.

He said: “I am making no challenge to my sentence, and I refused to recognise the court as I had done in 1988.

“I had no representation as I wanted to save taxpayers' money.”

Stone hit the headlines in March 1988 when he launched a bloody gun and bomb attack on the Milltown Cemetery funerals of three IRA members shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar.

Another three people, Thomas McErlane, John Murray and Kevin Brady, died in the slaughter at the west Belfast graveyard.

Stone was pursued onto the M1 motorway and captured by an angry crowd who avoided his bullets and hand grenades.

The cold-blooded killer was rescued by an RUC patrol after being pummelled to the ground.

The Milltown Massacre was filmed by a multitude of TV cameras and made Stone notorious across the world.

But by that stage he was already well-known in loyalists circles as a gun for hire.

In 1984 Stone gunned down Catholic milkman Patrick Brady in south Belfast.

A year later the hitman shot dead joiner Kevin McPolin in Lisburn.

His third murder occurred in 1987 when he murdered Dermot Hackett as

the bread delivery man drove his work van along the road from Omagh to Drumquin. The UFF claimed the murder.

Stone admitted the three sectarian killings after being arrested for the Milltown Massacre.

While in prison he turned to art and sold a number of paintings for thousands of pounds.

In 1998 when the peace process hit the rocks after the murder of LVF leader Billy Wright, pony-tailed Stone was part of a loyalist delegation that met then Secretary of State Mo Mowlam.

In his statement to Sunday Life last week Stone expressed disappointment that this and his support for the peace process was not referred to in court last Monday.

He said: “Throughout the whole court case there was no mention of my role in the peace process with Mo Mowlam. That all seems to have been blanked.

“I'm not single-minded, I was prepared to move with the process.

“I have felt for years that I have been used as a whipping-boy and still feel I am being used as an example.

“Whatever happened to parity and justice?”

Stone, who suffers from crippling Motor Neurone disease and a heart condition, was also damning of unionist politicians who he says have abandoned him.

They were among those who witnessed his high profile arrest at the doors of Parliament Buildings at Stormont in November 2006.

He was armed with knives, an axe, garrotte and a flight bag containing explosive fireworks, flammable liquids, a butane gas canister and fuses. But the killer has always maintained he was only planning to stage a “performance art” protest.

The six time murderer said in his statement: “There has been no comment from any unionist politician. Are they afraid of me?

“The silence is deafening, is it a case there is no justice for old loyalists?”

“I acknowledge the hurt and upset caused to all the families by my past actions,” added Stone.

“I'm still somebody's father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I'm a human being not a monster.”

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