Belfast Telegraph

Murder accused loyalist Rea denied copy of own Boston Tapes interviews, Crown Court told

By John Cassidy

Prosecutors are refusing to give a senior loyalist a transcript of his Boston College tape interviews, a court heard.

Lawyers for Winston 'Winkie' Rea described the decision as "unsatisfactory" and now plan to challenge the decision to deny him access to the material.

But the prosecution say that the reason for not giving the defendant a copy of the transcripts was part of an "international mutual agreement" between the USA and the UK when the tapes were handed over to the PSNI.

Rea (66), of Springwell Road in Groomsport, Co Down, is awaiting trial on 19 charges brought as result of interviews he gave Boston College researchers for a project on the conflict.

At an arraignment hearing last October the defendant denied the charges, said to have been committed between 1973 and 1996.

Included in the charges faced by Rea are conspiring to murder Catholic men John Devine in July 1989 and John O'Hara in April 1991.

Mr Devine (37) was shot in front of his teenage son in west Belfast, while taxi driver Mr O'Hara (41), was lured to his death in the south of the city.

Rea has also been charged with conspiring with others to threaten to kill LVF leader Billy Wright in August 1996.

He pleaded not guilty to firearms and other terror-related charges, including conspiring to possess firearms secured from the Ulster Resistance paramilitary group on dates between November 1986 and October 1994.

He is further charged with encouraging the murder of "persons working in shops selling An Phoblacht in republican and nationalist areas" between November 1977 and October 1994.

During yesterday's hearing at Belfast Crown Court defence barrister Tom McCreanor told Mr Justice Colton that the prosecution was refusing Rea his own copy of a transcript of the taped interviews for the Boston College project. Mr McCreanor said copies of the transcripts had been made available to Rea's solicitor, junior counsel and senior counsel.

"Mr Rea is entitled to access to these materials. He has not had his own copy and it is not a satisfactory way for him to prepare himself for trial," Mr McCreanor told the court.

"He is not allowed to make notes and he is not allowed to show the material to others. This is historical material which requires investigation by the accused for the preparation of his trial. It is unsatisfactory.''

A prosecution lawyer told the court that as part of the "international mutual agreement with the USA", undertakings were given about how the material would be disseminated.

"Mr Rea may have to give undertakings to the court to allow him further copies of the material," said the prosecutor.

Mr Justice Colton adjourned the hearing until Friday, January 26 to hear legal arguments before deciding whether to give Mr Rea a copy of the transcripts.

Belfast Telegraph

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