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UK News Families reveal heartbreak at release of loyalist killer Michael Stone

14:55  27 january  2021
14:55  27 january  2021 Source:   newsletter.co.uk

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In 1998 Stone killed three people by gunning them down in Milltown cemetery during a funeral service.

a person posing for the camera © Michael Stone's attack at Stormont

As well as the three Milltown cemetery murders - Thomas McErlean (20), John Murray (26) and IRA member Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh (30) - Stone was convicted of three other killings.

They were - Milkman Patrick Brady, who was murdered in south Belfast in 1984

Joiner Kevin McPolin, who was shot in the head in Lisburn, County Antrim, in 1985

Bread delivery driver Dermott Hackett, who was shot up to 16 times with a submachine gun in his work van in 1987

The East Belfast killer has been described as one of the most notorious paramilitaries of the Troubles.

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Last year a legal challenge that would have prevented him applying again for early release was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

It was taken by families of his victims in an attempt to delay his release.

They have been informed of the move.

It is understood Parole Commissioners took the decision on Monday and he was freed from Maghaberry Prison yesterday.

Before now, he had not been due for release until 2024, having failed in an earlier parole bid.

In statements released to Relatives for Justice the families spoke of their shock and sadness.

a boy on a baseball field © PACEMAKER BELFAST MICHAEL STONE MILLTOWN CEMETRY 1988

A statement the family of John Murray said: “On a week when John should have been celebrating both the birth of his sixth grandchild and his 60th birthday, we have instead had to endure the news of the early release of the person responsible for John’s murder.

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“The lack of clarity from the relevant bodies has been nothing short of insulting .

“As a family we too have been given a life sentence, a sentence which we have borne and continue you bear with great dignity, a life sentence without ever being afforded the luxury of an early release.

António Luís Alves Ribeiro Oliveira et al. posing for the camera © 1998: Michael Stone (right) with senior UDA figure Jim Gray at a loyalist rally

“While there are many questions that remain unanswered surrounding John’s death and what assistance was given to his killer on that day, today we choose to remember John for who he was, a 27 year old husband and father of two young children whom he adored.

“He was a son and a brother who filled our lives with love, kindness and plenty of laughs taken from us in the most public and brutal manner and whose death we struggle to come to terms with every single day.”

A statement from Dermott Hackett’s family said: “Following the release of Michael Stone, in a statement issued through Relatives for Justice, the family of Dermot Hackett has said that they still live with the heartache caused by the murder of their husband and father, son and brother and not a day goes past without them thinking of him.

Judge orders release of reasons for freeing notorious killer Stone from jail

  Judge orders release of reasons for freeing notorious killer Stone from jail Loyalist Michael Stone killed three people in a gun and grenade attack at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast following an IRA funeral. His lawyer said his life would be in danger if details were made public so the summary document will be shared with legal representatives but kept confidential on a temporary basis.Action was brought at Belfast’s High Court by a relative of one of Stone’s victims after he was freed earlier this week following a decision by Northern Ireland’s Parole Commission.

“Whilst Michael Stone served a prison sentence for the murder many questions remain unanswered, particularly around his relationship with the state.

“Michael Stone most definitely did not act alone, the role of the state and in particular RUC special branch and British Military Intelligence remain to be clarified.”

And in another statement the family of Thomas McErlean said: “We have been made aware that Michael Stone is to be released from custody shortly.

“As a family we have pursued legal action to try and ensure Stone remained imprisoned.

“It is unjust Michael Stone is able to move forward with his life when he took the lives of Thomas McErlean and many other people.

a close up of a man © Provided by News Letter

“ Our family are denied the chance to heal whilst he refuses to answer questions about which parts of the state armed and assisted him with so many murders.

a close up of a man © Provided by News Letter

“As a family we continue to love, miss and remember Thomas, and call for a proper investigation into his death that will reveal the truth about state collusion and loyalist paramilitaries. The victims families need to be the focus rather than Michael Stone.”

a man looking at the camera © PACEMAKER BELFAST 4/7/01 Ex Loyalist Prisoner Michael Stone with one of his paintings, painted in th...

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