Ex-officer was Pride of Britain award winner

Ex-officer was Pride of Britain award winner

8 September 2021

A FORMER police officer who served in South Down and stopped leading loyalist Michael Stone from trying to wipe out the Sinn Fein leadership while she worked as a security guard at Stormont has died.

Sue Porter grappled with the Milltown killer as he attempted to storm Parliament Buildings on a mission to slit the throats of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in 2006.

Armed with explosives, knives and an axe, Stone was disarmed by the guard and doorman Peter Lachanudis. He had pointed a gun — later found to be an imitation — at the former police woman’s head.

Ms Porter and the doorman moved Stone outside fearing that he had turned himself into a bomb with explosives strapped to his body. They sat on him and tied his laces together.

The former RUC officer of 22 years, who also served in South Armagh, was later thanked by Sinn Fein politicians for her actions. She dismissed the praise and insisted she had only been doing her job.

Ms Porter, who was in her early 70s and a winner of a Pride of Britain award in 2007 alongside her Stormont colleague, died suddenly on August 29 and was buried in Saintfield Parish churchyard after a service in her home on September 3.

Ms Porter recalled at the time that she had spotted Stone first that morning at Stormont. 

“I saw a man walking towards the building with a big bag. I thought he must be a photographer, but when he got closer I saw his eyes and recognised him. I put my hand up to stop the revolving door and he pointed a gun at my head,” she said.

Mr Lachanudis then restrained Stone in an armlock while Ms Porter grabbed the pistol. The loyalist had thrown a bomb inside the building which he said would explode in three minutes.

“This whole experience was like being back in the police again,” Ms Porter recalled.

“I’ve restrained people before who had knives, but I’ve never encountered anyone with bombs. I had no doubt in my mind that he was a human bomb. My only thought was to get him out of the door before [Stormont] became engulfed in flames — there were kids in that building.

“This man told me that he was prepared to go up with the bomb and that meant him taking a lot of innocent people with him.

Ms Porter, who worked for Federal Security Services, was deputising for a sick colleague at Parliament Buildings on the day of the incident.

At Stone’s 2008 trial, she told Belfast Crown Court how she had scratched him with her fingernails as he shouted various remarks about “Sinn Fein and Paisley”.

She said when she asked him what was in his bag, he replied “everything, grenades — it’s going to go up, get out of here”. 

Ms Porter said when she told him he would be blown up as well, he said: “So be it.” 

Ms Porter described how she had hit Stone over the head with the imitation pistol she had taken from him.

She continued: “After I had got the gun off him, I tied his shoelaces together, because I thought this would prevent him from moving any further. He was wearing a flak jacket and shouting ‘No Surrender’. When we got him outside, I found the knives and also took flares out of his pocket.

“I had to sit on his knees when I was searching him and, during this, I was trying to calm him down. When I was sitting on him, he said, ‘You’re good, the pair of you.’”

Ms Porter told how senior Sinn Fein MLAs Mitchel McLaughlin and Michelle Gildernew had thanked her for her actions.

She added at the time: “I am no heroine. I don’t want any bravery award for what happened. I was only doing my job.”

Her employer, Brendan Flynn of Federal Security Services, said: “When faced with a very difficult situation, Susan acted quickly and decisively putting the safety of her team and the public before her own.

“She is remarkable individual who went beyond the call of duty. She was a bit embarrassed about the attention she got following the event and wondered what all the fuss was about. But we are all very proud of her and it is an honour to work with her.”