‘WINKIE’ Rea, the leader of the Red Command Command terror group, was released on bail today after he faced a court charged with two sectarian murders over two decades ago.
The 65-year-old appeared in the dock of Belfast Magistrates’ Court in wheelchair spending the past five days in police custody.
He was granted 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.
Rea is also accused of the:
- attempted murders of Malachy McAllister in Belfast on 2 October 1988;
- the attempted murder of an unknown man in the Falls Road area sometime between 1 January 1971 and 23 February 1973;
- possession of firearms.
The defendant, whose real name is Winston Churchill Rea, of Springwell Crescent in Groomsport, Co Down, is now confined to a wheelchair because of his failing health.
He suffered a stroke in the past number of years because of his heavy smoking and drinking.
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.
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 PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch arrested ‘Winkie’ Rea last Tuesday under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act.
Last September the LIB announced that it would re-examine the murders after they gained access to tapes containing interviews he gave to the Boston College ‘Belfast Project’.
Rea was arrested in March 1999 on the morning of his daughter’s wedding by RUC detectives for questioning about the murder of one time RHC ally Frankie Curry.