Former UDA member Michael Stone released from prison

Stone had been returned to jail following attempt to kill Sinn Féin leaders at Stormont

Convicted killer and former Ulster Defence Association member Michael Stone has been released from prison.

The decision was taken by parole commissioners on Monday and Stone was freed from Maghaberry Prison on Tuesday, the PA news agency understands.

Stone killed three people in a gun and grenade attack at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast in 1988 following an IRA funeral.

A legal challenge had been launched by his victims’ families in a bid to prevent him applying for early release from prison, but was dismissed by the North’s Court of Appeal last year.

He was freed in 2000 under the Belfast Agreement but was returned to prison six years later for trying to kill then Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Stormont.

In November last year, the Court of Appeal, Northern Ireland’s highest court, ruled that Stone could apply for early release from prison.

Stone had been serving a 30-year jail term.

Last year Stone was ordered by the High Court in Belfast to serve a further 5½ years before he could be considered for release.

An appeal against that ruling was then taken.

Stone was found guilty of three other killings in addition to the Milltown Cemetery attack that took place on March 16th, 1988.

They included murdering a milkman, shooting a joiner in the head and firing at another man up to 16 times with a submachine gun. – PA