Detectives think ‘Winky’ Rea paid £40,00 for head of Frankie Curry
Sunday World Site
February 12th, 2015
Detectives believe Winston ‘Winky’ Rea agreed a £40,000 bounty for the murder of Red Hand Commando hitman Frankie Curry.
The former head of the terror group has been locked in a courtroom battle to prevent PSNI detectives from getting their hands on transcripts of taped interviews he gave to researchers on the Boston Tapes project.
This week the High Court in Belfast heard the veteran loyalist is being investigated in connection with offences of the ‘utmost gravity’.
He has long been suspected of involvement in the 1999 slaying of shooter Curry, pictured right, a one-time close associate and cousin of his wife.
But despite being interviewed at the time he was released without charge.
But detectives believe the 64-year-old, who is said to be in poor health, has detailed his alleged involvement in the killing as well as incriminating others. It is also thought his ‘confession’ reveals details of £40,000 in cash paid out to his killers.
Curry was a notorious hitman who once boasted he had killed 20 people, but had fallen foul of the RHC parent organisation of the UVF over his stated opposition to the then fledgling peace process.
It is understood he was on a list of loyalist ‘dissidents’ who were seen as a threat to the stability of the Good Friday Agreement which had been signed only a few months before his killing.
When Curry exacted deadly revenge on prominent drug dealer William ‘Wassy’ Paul who had humiliated him in a fist fight on the Shankill Road, RHC leaders and the UVF hierarchy had an excuse to take him out.
Curry shot Paul dead outside his home in Bangor’s Kilcooley estate in the summer of 1998.
It was to be the catalyst for his own downfall. The rival UDA was furious over the Paul killing, because of their drug dealing partnership with the victim, and with the blessing of UVF boss Gusty Spence – Curry’s uncle – he was targeted as he walked along Malvern Street in the heart of the Shankill.
The Sunday World can reveal Spence cleared the way for a UDA hitman to take him out in return for a £40,000 bounty. The money, which was believed to have been handed to Shankill Road UVF commander Joe ‘No Neck’ Megaw, bought the killers immunity from reprisal.
Spence also stipulated that his nephew was not be targeted until he had visited his mother. The killing would also have been cleared by the Red Hand Commando of which Rea was leader.
Curry was shot in the back of the head as he walked past waste ground on Malvern Street in the heart of the Shankill – ironically the location of the murder of Peter
Ward by his uncle Gusty in 1969 widely accepted as the sectarian killing that sparked the Troubles.
Curry’s body was found dumped at the rear of the Pony Club.
The stakes are high for Rea and whoever else he may have incriminated in the Boston interviews.
Curry was murdered after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement which means anyone convicted of the killing will have to serve a full sentence rather than the minimal two and a half years for crimes committed before the peace deal.
For years Curry was the organisation’s top killer. He pulled the trigger on fellow RHC member Billy Elliott, one of the men involved in the sickening band hall murder of
Margaret Wright who was lured to a south Belfast drinking club where she was assaulted and battered to death.
Elliott was sentenced to death for his role in the atrocity and Curry lured him to a meeting close to his home in the Primacy area of Bangor before shooting him once in the back of the head.
Detectives believe the killing could only have been carried out with the full approval of Winky Rea.
Loyalist sources have told the Sunday World that Rea is terrified he has incriminated himself in a raft of terrorist crimes stretching from the 70s right through to the late 90s. Other members of the organisation are also believed to have been implicated in his interviews.
Last month Rea secured a temporary injunction as police were set to fly out to collect tapes from his interviews with the Boston College project.
He was among dozens of loyalists and republicans who provided testimonies to researchers compiling an oral history of the Northern Ireland conflict.
Interviews were given on the understanding that the tapes would not be made public until after their deaths.
But those assurances were dealt a blow in 2013 when detectives investigating the abduction and murder of Jean McConville back in 1972 secured the transcripts of former IRA woman Dolours Price’s account.
In court, Mr Justice Treacey will decide tomorrow whether to grant leave for Rea to apply for a Judicial Review.