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Winston 'Winkie' Rea disgusted by Shankill Butchers, trial told


Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy

Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy

Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy

A one-time head of the Red Hand Commando, accused of setting up innocent Catholics for murder, was disgusted with the so-called Shankill Butchers, a court has been told.

And in a taped interview allegedly detailing his own terrorist activities, the RHC chief coldly said murder should be swift with a bullet to the back of the head ... “but you don’t butcher people”.

On trial at Belfast Crown Court is 69-year-old Winston “Winkie” Rea, the man the prosecution claim is the voice behind the tapes.

On the tape the voice is designated “Interviewee L” by the Boston College team who made them for their “Belfast Project”.

Rea, from Springwell Road in Groomsport, Co Down, denies a total of 19 charges including aiding and abetting the murders of Catholic men John Devine in July 1989 and John O’Hara in April 1991, and plotting to murder others.


In the dock: Winston Churchill Rea (aka Winkie Rea), at the opening of his trial at Belfast Crown Court on Monday

In the dock: Winston Churchill Rea (aka Winkie Rea), at the opening of his trial at Belfast Crown Court on Monday

Photopress Belfast

In the dock: Winston Churchill Rea (aka Winkie Rea), at the opening of his trial at Belfast Crown Court on Monday

Asked about the period of the Shankill Butchers, who were responsible for the sectarian torture and murder of 23 people during the 1970s and early 80s, 'L' said it was not only he who was against their killings, but also other loyalists, some of whom had committed ‘awful crimes’, and that the loyalist leadership should have stopped Lenny Murphy and his gang.

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“My recollection is.. at the time of the Shankill Butchers the leadership should have moved in to prevent what was happening. But unfortunately they didn’t and the reason why I’m saying ... because if I had been the man to make the call, I would have...

“Because them type of murders ... I would be upset ... because then I believed that if you need to kill someone you did it as swift as possible ... don’t want to sound callous ...

“But you put a gun to the back of his head and you blow their brains out ... but you don’t butcher them”.

‘L’ went to say that his “own personal position ... opinion” was the leader of the Butcher gang, Lenny Murphy, was “a 100% psychopath”.

The speaker said he was “totally convinced” those tendencies in Murphy were always there, and cited an occasion when, long before becoming the Butcher leader, Murphy had sliced open his leg with a razor blade in prison.

‘L’ claimed that once, while in his cell with others, Murphy had run the blade from an old Gillette razor straight down his leg, but in such a way as not to penetrate the skin.

However, according to ‘L’, suddenly he “moved his angle and it bit deep into my knee”, leaving him with a wound requiring a dozen stitches and an ugly scar.

He added that it was his belief that Murphy “knew exactly what he was doing ... exactly ... and he had a joy at the sight of blood scooting out of my knee, and I believe that to this day”.

And later, when it came to the Shankill gang members themselves, ‘L’ suggested Murphy “fooled” them, “putting s*** into their heads” and although “one or two others might have the same tendencies”, it was Murphy who even “spun the loyalist leadership stories”.

“The general consensus within the jail (Long Kesh)”, added the speaker, “was against him, even from people who were in for some awful crimes ... awful crimes ... the Shankill Butchers got to them .... and everyone, not just one or two ... all disagreed with what they were doing”.

The trial continues on Monday.

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