Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Monday, 8 December 2008

Stone jailed for Stormont attack


The whole incident was captured by TV news cameras at Stormont

Loyalist killer Michael Stone has been jailed for 16 years for trying to murder Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams at Stormont.

Stone had attempted to enter Stormont during a key debate on Northern Ireland devolution in November 2006.

Last month at Belfast Crown Court, 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".

Stone launched his attack 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.

Handing down his sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Deeny said he had decided not to give Stone a life term because he suffers from a degenerative muscle wasting condition which would see him confined to a wheelchair in the future.

However, Mr Justice Deeny said he also had to take into account the serious offences that Stone had already committed before his attack on Stormont.

"He could hardly have a worse criminal record," the judge said, "and I do take into account the very grave offences of which he was convicted in 1989."

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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