Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Stone convicted of SF murder bids

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Loyalist killer Michael Stone being restrained at Stormont

Loyalist killer Michael Stone has been found guilty of trying to murder Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams at Stormont in November 2006.

He was also convicted of seven other charges, including possession of weapons and explosive devices.

Stone had denied the charges, claiming the incident was performance art. However, a judge at Belfast Crown Court said this was "wholly unconvincing".

The convicted murderer will be sentenced at a later date.

Stone had attempted to enter Stormont on the day Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were due to be nominated as Northern Ireland's new first and deputy first ministers.

The trial heard he pointed an imitation gun at a female security guard, ignited an improvised explosive device in a flight bag and threw it some yards from him.

The bag contained explosive fireworks, flammable liquids, a butane gas canister and fuses. It failed to explode.

He was found to have seven nail bombs which the court heard were capable of causing death or serious injury to anyone in their proximity.

Stone also had three knives, a hatchet and a garrotte.

MICHAEL STONE TRIAL

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Mr Justice Deeny said Stone had been "a wholly unreliable and unconvincing witness whose testimony… is wholly undeserving of belief".

He concluded Stone had not merely prepared the explosive devices and gone to Stormont estate, but had "stepped over a line by entering the building and igniting the bag which was a necessary part of his plan to kill the Sinn Fein leaders".

He had therefore gone beyond acts that were merely preparatory.

The judge also noted Stone had repeatedly told police when arrested that his intention was to kill Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, including that he would have slit their throats if he had got close enough.

The defendant had also written letters to two journalists, which he posted on his way to Stormont, saying this was his intention.

In 2000, Stone was released early from a life sentence under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He had been jailed for a 1988 gun and grenade attack on the republican funeral at Milltown Cemetery of three IRA members shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar.

Three men were killed in that attack and Stone also admitted three other murders.



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