08 December 2005

Killer stone to meet victim's family on TV

Belfast Telegraph

By Linda McKee
08 December 2005

Loyalist terrorist Michael Stone will come face to face with the widow and brother of one of his murder victims in a BBC2 series scheduled for next year.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu will preside over the series which will document encounters between the perpetrators and victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Stone came to international notoriety in 1988 when he launched a grenade attack on mourners at Milltown Cemetery.

He later said his primary targets had been Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Danny Morrison.

Stone will be confronted during the BBC2 series by the widow and brother of one of his murder victims, Dermott Hackett.

Catholic father-of-one Mr Hackett was shot 15 times by the UDA/UFF as he drove his bread van along the Omagh to Drumquin Road on May 23, 1987.

SDLP politician Denis Haughey said he believed the "unreasonable harassment" of Mr Hackett by police may have made him a target.

In 1989, Stone was sentenced to 684 years in prison for this murder, five other murders and six attempted murders. He was later released as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

BBC controller, Roly Keating, said it took a very long time to persuade people to take part in the programme and convince them that good could come of it.

"The programmes do not try to achieve a reconciliation, but at least there is some catharsis," he added.

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