Northern Ireland

Victim's family call for Winston 'Winkie' Rea Boston College tapes to be released

Suspected loyalist killer Winston 'Winkie' Rea has died
Suspected loyalist killer Winston 'Winkie' Rea has died Suspected loyalist killer Winston 'Winkie' Rea has died

The family of Catholic man whose murder is believed to have involved loyalist Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea has called for Boston College interviews he gave to be made public.

The family of John O’Hara made the call after Rea, who was on trial for the murder, died this week.

Rea was accused of killing John Devine (37) in July 1989 and John O'Hara (41) in April 1991.

The former Red Hand Commando chief faced a total of 19 charges arising from an interview he was alleged to have given to Boston College researchers.

The Boston College project saw loyalists and republicans provide interviews and personal accounts to the researchers on condition nothing was to be made public without their consent or until after they died.

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After a legal battle, the PSNI gained access to some of the recordings.

The former loyalist, who had an address in Groomsport, Co Down, claimed he suffered from ill health and his trial was disrupted several times as a result.

It has been reported that Rea was unable to attend the funeral of his wife Liz on Thursday after she died last week.

Ms Rea was a daughter of former UVF commander Gusty Spence, who died in 2011.

Rea had denied all the charges against him, which covered a period between 1973-1996.

John Devine
John Devine John Devine

A father-of-three, Mr Devine was shot dead in his home in Fallswater Street, west Belfast, in July 1989.

He had been at home with his 13-year-old son when the killer gang struck.

The murder was later claimed by the Protestant Action Force, a cover name for the UVF.

John O'Hara
John O'Hara John O'Hara

Mr O’Hara, from the Short Strand area, was lured to a derelict house off the Lisburn Road and shot dead on his first night as a taxi driver in April 1991.

His murder was later attributed to the UDA/UFF.

In a statement issued through Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, Mr O'Hara's family said "there isn't a day goes by that they don't miss their father and husband".

"He was a loving husband a doting father, he was doing an honest evening's work as a taxi driver and he was cruelly gunned down in a purely sectarian attack," they said.

"The death of Winston Rea means that he will not face trial or be convicted.

"The tapes that we listened to during the trial need to be made public so as the world can listen and hear exactly who was behind and responsible for the cruel and callous sectarian murder of our loving husband and father."

Mr Thompson added: "We supported both these families and the tapes need to be played."