Northern Ireland

Winston 'Winkie' Rea charged with murders of two Catholic workmen

Winston Rea gave an interview to Boston College researchers on the basis it would not be made public until his death Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Winston Rea gave an interview to Boston College researchers on the basis it would not be made public until his death

Belfast loyalist Winston 'Winkie' Rea has been charged with two counts of murder dating back more than 20 years.

The 65-year-old appeared in Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday.

He was given bail after being charged with the murders of John Devine in 1989 and John O'Hara in 1991.

He faces a total of 12 charges including membership of the Red Hand Commando. He denies all of the charges against him.

He is also accused of the attempted murders of Malachy McAllister in Belfast on 2 October 1988, and of an unknown man in the Falls Road area sometime between 1 January 1971 and 23 February 1973, as well as weapons offences.

Mr Rea, of Springwell Crescent in Groomsport, County Down, uses a wheelchair and is in ill-health.

John Devine, 37, was shot dead in west Belfast on 23 July 1989.

He was sitting in his living room in his home on Fallswater Street with his 13-year-old son when three men forced their way in and shot him.

John O'Hara, 41, was murdered on Dunluce Avenue in south Belfast on 17 April 1991.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption John Devine, pictured left, and John O'Hara were the victims of sectarian murders

He was working as a taxi driver and had gone to pick up a passenger at 22:15 BST, when he was approached by two masked men who fired several shots at the car, fatally injuring him.

Officers from the Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) of the PSNI arrested Mr Rea on Tuesday.

Last September the LIB announced that it would re-examine the murders after they gained access to tapes containing interviews Mr Rea gave to the Boston College 'Belfast Project'.

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