Rea trial told of loyalist gun attack

Posted By: December 10, 2020

Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, December 10, 2020
A man whose south Belfast home was attacked in 1988 by loyalists described how as a child he tried to protect his younger siblings by covering them with a blanket “until the shooting stopped.”

A statement made by Gary McAllister was read at the non-jury trial of Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea, who has been charged with – and denies – a total of 19 offences spanning a period from 1973 to 1996.

The 69-year old, from Springwell Gardens in Groomsport, denies the historic loyalist paramilitary offences which include membership of the Red Hand Commandos, and conspiracy to murder.

One of the offences is a charge of conspiring to murder Malachy McAllister on October 2 1988.

His oldest child Gary, who now lives in the US, was 12 when the family’s home in the Lower Ormeau area of Belfast was attacked.

In a statement, Gary McAllister said that on the night of the shooting, he and his three siblings were being babysat by their grandmother as their parents were on holiday.

Saying he had a “very clear and vivid recollection of that night”, Mr McAllister remembered his brother Jamie was out playing football with friends while his baby brother Sean was upstairs asleep. His sister Nicola, who was a toddler at the time, was also in the house.

He said: “We were sitting in the living room, we were waiting on our favourite programme to come on the television, as part of our Sunday evening routine.”

Gary McAllister said that when Sean starting crying upstairs, he went upstairs to tend to the baby, with his younger sister “toddling” up the stairs with him.

The statement said: “The next thing I heard was an almighty crash and the sound of the front living room window coming in. It sounded like a sledge hammer.

And he added: “I could see a man standing at the gate of our front path on the street. He was wearing a clear Halloween mask covering his face.

“He seen me peeking out and gestured up towards me with his hand, pointing up towards the room were we where, by which stage I could hear gunshots riddling through the house.

“As the man pointed towards me he leapt across the gatepost which had been decaying and loose, and he toppled the cement cap off it.

“I then ran away from the window and went back to the bed where Nicola and Sean were, and covered the blanket over three of us until the shooting stopped.”

Mr McAllister also recalled that as they were being brought down stairs he say his parents bedroom riddled with gunfire.

“All of the wood had been shattered. I knew that the gunmen deliberately fired his gun up towards us – possibly in response to the gesture of the man with the Halloween mask who had seen me.”

In the aftermath of the gun attack, the family moved to the US.

Mr Rea denied any involvement in a plot to murder Malachy McAllister in 1988.

The Co Down man also denies involvement in other murder plots and two sectarian murders.