Cemetery killer Stone eligible to apply for parole

Cemetery killer Stone eligible to apply for parole

A legal challenge that would have prevented loyalist killer Michael Stone applying again for early release has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Lawyers for the family of one of his victims had argued that the prisoner “squandered” a previous chance of release.

Stone killed three people in a gun and grenade attack at Milltown cemetery in west Belfast in1988.

The legal action was taken by the sister of one of his victims.

Deborah McGuiness’s brother, Thomas McErlean, 20, was killed during that attack on Milltown cemetery.

She was appealing a High Court ruling from last year that gave Sentence Review Commissioners the right to consider another application from Stone.

In dismissing the appeal, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, said the court was satisfied that the legislation allowed a prisoner, who has had his licence revoked, to apply for a further declaration of his eligibility for release.

“Whether his application is determined depends upon whether he satisfied the conditions in rule 9(2) of the 1998 rules, for the reasons given in agreement with the learned trial judge we dismiss the appeal,” he told the court.

The Court of Appeal also ruled that six years which Stone spent out of prison on licence could count towards the 30 year sentence he received.

It means that the 65-year-old who was due to remain in prison until 2024 is now eligible to apply for parole. 

The Lord Chief Justice said the arrangements in relation to Troubles-related prisoners had been a source of “considerable concern to many” but added that the arrangements are “unique and extraordinary.”

As well as the Milltown cemetery murders, Stone was convicted of three other killings.

Stone’s other victims were:

In 2006, he entered Parliament Buildings at Stormont, armed with explosives and an axe, in an attempt to murder Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Stone denied it had been a bid to kill the politicians, instead claiming it was “an act of performance art”.

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