Stone denies ‘unfinished business’ with SF
Milltown murderer Michael Stone has denied he was an “egocentric killer” when he launched his infamous Stormont raid.
Giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court for the second day yesterday, 53-year-old Stone was under cross examination from prosecuting QC Charles Adair when he denied the suggestion that he had “unfinished business” with the Sinn Fein leadership but did admit that as an artist, he liked publicity.
Earlier Stone had conceded that until Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness signed the Good Friday Agreement, one of his “biggest regrets” was not killing them as he had planned to do at Milltown cemetery in 1988.
Stone, of no fixed address, denies attempting to murder the Sinn Fein leadership as well as 12 other charges of possessing nail and pipe bombs with intent to endanger life, possessing three knives, an axe and a garotte, and having an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence on November 24, 2006.
At the very beginning of the cross examination, Mr Adair sought to demonstrate the “symmetry” between the incident at Stormont and Stone’s attack on the funerals of the three alleged IRA terrorists at Milltown cemetery when he launched grenades into the crowd and used two pistols to fire a number of shots.
Stone agreed with the lawyer’s suggestions that in relation to Milltown, he had set out with a murderous intent, that he had killed three people and injured dozens more but claimed he had only intended to kill Adams and McGuinness.
The convicted killer claimed he had not intended to kill or maim others but added that “regrettably I did”.
He further agreed with Mr Adair that the attack at Milltown was carried out in a “glare of publicity”, knowing that cameras and newspapers would also be attending the funerals.
“You went there to kill and injure, you went there knowing that it would be done in a blaze of publicity and you went there with potentially lethal weapons,” suggested the lawyer, “just like Stormont”.
However, Stone said this was “incorrect” and claimed that he had gone to Stormont with “painted weapons and damp squibs”.
The lawyer asked him if he regretted not killing Adams and McGuinness and Stone admitted that he did “during the conflict” but added that since they had signed up to the peace process, it was no longer a regret.
Mr Adair suggested to him that he had gone to Stormont to “fulfil the ambition” of killing them but again Stone denied that, telling the court that if he had wanted to get a real gun he could have “got a spade and dug one up” but then refused to answer questions as to where from.
Turning to the day’s events, Stone claimed he was acting in the belief that there would be a “revolt” from DUP politicians in protest at the nomination of Mr McGuinness, further claiming that his actions “gave breathing space” to Sinn Fein and the DUP.
Asked by Mr Adair if he was serious, Stone said he was.
“I’m suggesting you are living in a fantasy world,” replied Mr Adair. “You have invented all this symbolic charade to fit in to your murderous attack that day at Stormont,” declared the lawyer, but Stone denied this.
It was also suggested to Stone by Mr Adair that all the devices he had taken to Stormont were “potentially lethal” and that he had “lost touch with reality” but Stone maintained they were “props” and would not have exploded.
Trial judge Mr Justice Deeney also heard from consultant neurologist Dr John McConville who said that having examined Stone last January, he diagnosed he was suffering from hereditary motorneuropathy, a condition which caused the muscles in his legs to waste away, making it difficult for him to walk, especially over rough ground or up stairs.
The trial continues.