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Trial continues Gardai believe Kevin Lunney kidnap was planned 'weeks in advance', court hears

Officers sought phone records dating back months before the attack, as they were aware there had been “ongoing issues” at Quinn Industrial Holdings for some time and Mr Lunney (52) told them his captors “knew stuff about his family.”

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Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Gardai investigating the abduction of businessman Kevin Lunney suspected the operation had been planned weeks in advance, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Officers sought phone records dating back months before the attack, as they were aware there had been “ongoing issues” at Quinn Industrial Holdings for some time and Mr Lunney (52) told them his captors “knew stuff about his family.”

Evidence was continuing in the non-jury trial of four men charged over Mr Lunney’s kidnapping and torture in 2019.

The Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director was bundled into a car outside his Co Fermanagh home and taken to a container where his captors broke his leg, slashed his face with a Stanley knife and doused his wounds in bleach while ordering him to resign from the company.

They carved “QIH” into his chest with the knife and told him it was so he would “remember” before dumping him on a roadside in Co Cavan, the court has heard.

Four men are on trial at the three-judge court.

Darren Redmond (27), of Caledon Road, Alan O’Brien (40) of Shelmalier Road, both in East Wall, Dublin, and a man “YZ” (40), who cannot legally be named, are all alleged to have been directly involved in the attack.

Luke O’Reilly, from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan allegedly provided “material assistance in the planning and execution of the offences.”

They all face the same charges of false imprisonment and causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan, on September 17th, 2019, which they deny.

Phone record evidence is being challenged by defence barristers today in a voir dire, or trial within the trial.

Gardai are being cross examined on procedures they used to apply for warrants to obtain call data on a number of phones in the case.

Detective Sergeant Sharon Walsh had begun her evidence on Friday and continuation of her cross examination continued this morning.

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She said applications for phone records “in the normal fashion” through security and intelligence, had been suspended by the gardai. This followed a High Court decision on data retention following a case taken by convicted murderer Graham Dwyer.

As a result, Det Sgt Walsh made the application under Section 10 of the Criminal Justice Miscellaneous Provisions Act and it was granted in the district court. It was in relation to several numbers, including one attributable to YZ, on dates between August 1, 2019 and September 26, 2019.

This morning, she told Michael O’Higgins SC, for YZ that she had seen advices in relation to warrant applications in her emails, but they were in April this year.

Garda Sergeant Lisa Murray said, in relation to Mr Redmond, she made an application for a warrant to search Meteor for all call data in relation to an 087 phone number for dates between June 1, 2019 and November 21, 2019.

She obtained the warrant from the district court and went to Meteor in Citywest where the information was provided.

Michael Bowman SC, for Darren Redmond, said there was an issue being taken in relation to this evidence.

Sgt Murray said Mr Redmond had provided the phone number to the PSNI in 2019.

Mr Bowman asked why the start date of June 1 had been chosen.

“I was aware there were ongoing issues at QIH, it had been ongoing for some time, Mr Lunney had said they knew stuff about his family, and we suspected it had been planned,” Sgt Murray said. “We suspected it was a planned operation.”

She agreed June 1 would have been an arbitrary date for a start point.

Detective Sergeant Brian Quirke gave evidence of making an application for a warrant to obtain records for another 085 number, in relation to Alan O’Brien. This was for dates between August 1 and October 24, 2019. Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, for Mr O’Brien, cross examined Det Sgt Quirke on the procedure he followed. Mr O’Higgins asked Det Sgt Quirke if he had used a “template” when making his application.

Det Sgt Quirke replied that there was a previous warrant in the case that was being used in the incident room and he did look at it, but then composed his own application personally.

Detective Sergeant Damian Boland said he made an application for a warrant for call data for an 085 number attributable to YZ’s partner. This was for dates between August 18, 2019 and October 1, 2019 and in relation to contact the number had seven times with YZ’s phone on September 17, 2019 - the date of the abduction.

In cross-examination, Det Sgt Boland agreed with Mr O’Higgins that YZ’s partner was not and had never been a suspect in the case.

Referring to the application, Mr O’Higgins said there was “no basis” put forward for the garda belief that YZ was involved in Mr Lunney’s abduction and assault.

It was only stated that gardai believed it was “planned a number of weeks in advance,” Mr O’Higgins said.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.

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