Northern Ireland

Winston 'Winkie' Rea may testify at trial from home

The loyalist faces 19 charges dating back to 1973 Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The loyalist faces 19 charges dating back to 1973

Leading loyalist Winston 'Winkie' Churchill Rea may be able to give evidence at his trial from his own home, a court has heard.

His trial, on a number of alleged terror-related offences, was due to start last year.

However, it was delayed due to his poor health.

A judge said "some consideration" should be given to the trial going ahead "with the defendant in his own home participating by videolink".

Mr Rea, 67, of Springwell Crescent in Groomsport, County Down, has pleaded not guilty to 19 charges, alleged to have been committed between 1973 and 1996.

Medical assessments

The charges include conspiracy to murder and firearms offences.

Mr Rea was not at Thursday's brief hearing at Belfast Crown Court.

He is undergoing a number of medical assessments.

The judge said that before deciding whether or not Mr Rea is able to attend the trial, the issue of his "fitness to plead" needs to be resolved.

A hearing is due to take place on 11 February to deal with the issue.

Before that, the case will be reviewed on 6 February.

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