A NOTORIOUS loyalist is expected to receive a life sentence for his second attempt to kill Sinn Fein leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams.
In 1988 Ulster Defense Association (UDA) man Michael Stone gained world notoriety after he was filmed launching a gun and bomb attack on an IRA funeral in west Belfast in a bid to kill the Sinn Fein leaders.
Stone was later jailed for 900 years after pleading guilty to a series of sectarian murders, including the death of three mourners killed during his attack at Milltown Cemetery. He was released from prison in 2000 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
He exploited his hero status within loyalism by trying to become an artist, selling his paintings for up to $50,000.
After his release from prison Stone had claimed that he supported the peace process and took part in a number of television programs with the families of some of those he had killed.
However, despite his initial hero status Stone became increasingly isolated within hardline loyalism. He moved to Spain and Portugal on a number of occasions but returned to Northern Ireland within months.
Doubt was cast on Stone’s credibility as he began to make more and more outlandish claims about his previous exploits as a Loyalist killer.
However in November 2006, as Sinn Fein and the DUP were preparing to go into a power-sharing government at Stormont, Stone burst into the Parliament armed with array of homemade bombs, knives and a replica handgun. His attack was only stopped by security guards when he became trapped in revolving doors.
Stone initially told police that he had “unfinished business” with McGuinness and Adams, but later changed his story and claimed that the attack had in fact been performance art.
On the day of the attack he had asked a taxi driver to post letters to two newspapers in which he outlined in detail his plans to kill the Sinn Fein leadership.
He was described during his trial as having been “equipped like a suicide bomber” during his attack on Stormont.
However it is expected that Stone could be sentenced to life behind bars after being found guilty of the attempted murders of the Sinn Fein leadership.
Trial judge Justice Deeny said he was in no doubt that Stone had intended to kill, and branded the 59-year-old as “a wholly unreliable and unconvincing witness whose testimony is wholly undeserving of belief.”
As he was being led from the dock, Stone shouted, “This is another concession to the Shinners.”
He is due to be sentenced on December 1.