The UVF has been involved in a simmering feud with the UDA in the last couple of years in the estate in Dundonald
Reid was arrested ten days ago and appeared in court Monday week ago via video link from prison charged with membership of the UVF, being involved in a UVF blackmail plot and cocaine dealing.
He was remanded into custody and given he had allegedly evaded the police for several weeks he’s unlikely to be granted bail anytime soon while his co-accused in the alleged blackmail plot also failing to achieve High Court bail.
Reid, who once launched a cowardly attack on then Sunday World editor Jim McDowell, appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday charged with UVF membership, or professing to being a member, of the “east Belfast UVF”.
He also stands accused of blackmail by demanding £7,000 from a male complainant “with menaces” and with attempting to intimidate the same alleged victim by sending him a text message, on dates between October 16-19 this year.
And the 41-year-old is accused of being concerned in the supply of class A cocaine between January 1 last year and October 19 this year.
Giving evidence to the court a PSNI Detective Srgeant Cargan said he believed he could connect Reid to each of the offences while defence solicitor Andrew Russell confirmed he was not applying for bail.
The lawyer did confirm, however, that Reid “denied being a member of any organisation at interview”.
Now with Reid behind bars we can reveal the UDA is planning to move against supporters of Reid and east Belfast UVF in the loyalist Ballybeen estate.
The UVF has been involved in a simmering feud in the last couple of years in the estate in Dundonald with a small element of the UDA who’s members had joined up with the notorious South East Antrim brigade in a bid to get protection from UVF attacks.
In 2020 a UVF gang burst into the home of mum-of-five, Nicola Johnston, in Craignish Crescent in Ballybeen smashing the place to pieces with hammers.
A week before that attack, the UVF had forced Ms Johnston’s partner, Andy Tyrie, grandson of the former UDA boss Andy Tyrie, to leave the area.
It was the second attack on the woman’s house in a matter of months and was followed by more attacks including the bizarre attempt to force a large lump of raw meat through her letterbox.
“The UDA is going to clear the UVF out of Ballybeen once-and-for-all,” said a loyalist source last night.
“Reid is in prison and the UDA is going to put out any family and friends of Reid out of the area. It’s been a long time coming.
“People in Ballybeen are fed up with Reid and the UVF bullying their way round the estate. His time is over.
“The UDA has not forgotten about what the UVF did two years ago to some families in Ballybeen.”
The source also said they were not concerned about a potential backlash from the east Belfast UVF.
“Mackers is finished, there’s no strength in the east Belfast UVF anymore, they have been destroyed by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force.
“And people in Ballybeen just want to be able to get on with their lives without the UVF on the backs. With Reid behind bars now there’s a window of opportunity to clean the estate.”
The Sunday World understands threats have already been issued to supporters of Reid and even close family members have been told to clear out.
As reported in this paper recently the PSNI had been wanting to arrest Reid for more than six weeks but was only arrested with two other men in Lisburn in what police described as an investigation into “serious criminality in the Dundonald area”.
The thug had been named in court in October as being the man who threatened to “take the head off” the son of businessman and burn him out if he didn’t pay a ‘drug debt’.
During that hearing 31-year-old east Belfast man Ross Barr appeared and was charged that he demanded £7,000 from the complainant “with menaces” on 16 October this year.
The court also heard according to the police case, Barr used his car to take alleged “UVF enforcer” James Reid to the complainant’s business premises and was in contact with Reid more than 30 times following the extortion meeting.
During the sensational hearing it was also claimed Reid was described as a “UVF enforcer” and he had told the businessman he had been sent by reported east Belfast UVF boss Stephen ‘Mackers’ Matthews.
The court was told the businessman targeted, in what the court described as a “sinister” plot, recognised James Reid from seeing his photograph in the Sunday World.
It was also told police were “actively seeking” James Reid.
According to the alleged victim, Barr remained in the driver’s seat throughout but a man who he recognised as James Reid got out of the passenger seat and a third, unknown male got out of the rear.
A prosecutor told the court “Mr Reid is known to the injured party, he knows him through Sunday World articles as a UVF enforcer,” adding it had been Reid who spoke to the complainant.
The alleged victim was told that his son “owed money from drug dealing, he owed £5,000 and there was an additional £2,000 fine.”
“He said he was sent by Newtownards Road to collect the debt and he could check with the Shankill Road or with Mackers, referencing Stephen Matthews, the head of east Belfast UVF,” said the lawyer adding that when the complainant asked if his son was dealing for the UVF, he was told no, “he is free selling.”
Reid allegedly told the complainant if the cash wasn’t paid, his business premises would be burnt, “I will take his head off, I will put his f****** lights out.”
Half an hour after Reid left the premises, the alleged victim began to receive multiple threatening messages and phone calls repeating that if the money wasn’t paid, everything he owned would be burnt.
Mr Steer said there had also been 33 calls and texts between Reid and Barr leading up to and after the “blackmail meeting.”
When cops raided Ross Barr’s home at Roslin Gardens, they uncovered £25,000 in cash which his parents claimed was theirs as part of an inheritance but his mobile was nowhere to be found.
A short time after the search, Reid sent a “laughing emoji” text to the alleged victim.
Two weeks later Ross Barr applied for High Court bail was again refused.
During that hearing a prosecutor argued that a notebook found in Barr’s bedroom contained a list of names of those believed to owe money for drugs.
The barrister claimed Barr had full knowledge of the blackmail plot, with intelligence suggesting he is associated with the East Belfast UVF.
Opposing bail, Mr O’Connor submitted: “This incident has been assessed as a paramilitary show of strength.”
Defence counsel Sean Devine insisted his client remained in the car at the scene and knew nothing about the conversation with the alleged victim.
Barr agreed to provide a lift because he himself owed a modest amount of money and ended up “in over his head”, the court heard.
Mr Devine contended: “He was an unwitting stooge in this and someone who could be burned.”
Refusing bail, Mr Justice Fowler ruled: “I’m quite satisfied there’s a serious risk of interference with witnesses and… further offences.”
Reid once served a four-year jail sentence for his part in a UVF-linked armed robbery in 2010.
And last year he pleaded guilty to attacking a 15-year-old boy in Ballybeen.
The goon had been accused of attacking a teenage boy as he cycled home on his push bike through the Ballybeen estate but when we put that allegation to him he issued statements to this paper that he had no idea what we were talking about.
The 15-year-old, who’d been out on a cycle with pals, was left with injuries to his hand, arm, knee and back after being set upon by Reid.
Seemingly he was the innocent victim of a simmering loyalist feud which had seen east Belfast UVF lay siege against a number of families in Ballybeen.