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easy access Gardaí found suspected Lunney abduction van unlocked on Dublin street when planting surveillance

The national surveillance unit were giving evidence in the trial of four charged over Lunney kidnapping


Businessman Kevin Lunney

Businessman Kevin Lunney

Businessman Kevin Lunney

A member of the garda surveillance unit who placed a device inside a Renault Kangoo suspected to have been involved in the Kevin Lunney kidnapping found the van parked up and unlocked on the side of the road.

The officer was sent to deploy “technical equipment” inside the van during the investigation more than a month after the businessman was abducted and tortured.

The Special Criminal Court heard the van was parked in north inner city Dublin and he “easily” gained entry to it.

Members of the garda national surveillance unit were giving evidence in the trial of four people charged over Mr Lunney’s kidnapping.

Mr Lunney (52), a Quinn Industrial Holdings director, was bundled into a car outside his Derrylin, Co Fermanagh home and taken to a horsebox where his captors broke his leg with a wooden bat, 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 before dumping him, stripped to his boxer shorts, on a roadside in Drumcoghill, Co Cavan.

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

Mr O’Reilly (67), from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan is accused of providing “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 17, 2019, which they deny.

The trial has heard YZ, Mr O'Brien and Mr Redmond were alleged to have travelled in the Kangoo from Dublin to Cavan and back on the day of the abduction.

Today, evidence was heard of surveillance of the van after it became a "vehicle of interest" in the investigation.

Detective Superintendent Ciaran Hoey applied to the court to anonymise the National Surveillance Unit officers and exclude any members of the public from the court. This was to protect the officers from public identification and “media scrutiny,” which could put their safety at risk.

He said as members of the national surveillance unit, their anonymity was very important and his concern was for the lives and well-being of the officers and maintaining the integrity and security of garda operations.

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Prosecutor Sean Guerin SC said there was no objection to a single family member for each accused remaining in court, as well as Mr Lunney, gardai and lawyers.

Members of the media were permitted to report on the evidence as long as nothing was published to describe or identify the officers in any way.

The two witnesses gave their names in writing to the court before giving evidence.

The first officer told Mr Guerin on October 21, 2019 he was directed to “deploy technical equipment” in the Renault Kangoo which was parked on a road in the East Wall area.

He said he entered the vehicle that evening and carried out the task, then alighted and had no further interaction with the van.

He was not otherwise involved in the investigation into Mr Lunney’s abduction and this was his “only role.”

In cross examination, he agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC, for YZ, that he had “easily” gained access to the van, which was unlocked.

He said he entered and exited the van alone. He was inside, including the rear of the van.

The second officer said he was directed to attend Santry garda station on October 21 to retrieve the technical equipment from the Kangoo. He entered and exited the van, and did not enter it again.

He too had no further involvement in the investigation.

The officer told Mr O’Higgins the van was open and he did not need to use a key.

Detective Sergeant Kieran Regan was recalled to give evidence. On an earlier date, he told the court about the seizure of the Kangoo at a yard in Co Meath on October 23, 2019.

He had given evidence that the vehicle was locked at the time, but today he told the court he had not physically checked the door and “assumed” it was locked.

He had since checked with this colleague Garda Ciaran Marks, who confirmed he had not checked it either.

Garda Marks said in evidence there were no keys for the van and he also did not check if it was locked. Exhibits officer, Gda Joanne Gettins said the key to the van was recovered the day after the vehicle was seized. The key went “directly to Cavan.”

She told Giollaíosa Ó Lideaha, for Mr O’Brien, that when she attended the yard where Mr Lunney was allegedly imprisoned, the chain was removed from the gate without any difficulty as a link had been cut.

Mr O’Higgins told the court there was a legal issue to be argued by the defence about the admissibility evidence related to the van.

The court has previously heard the Kangoo was destroyed in an accidental fire while being stored after it was technically examined by gardai.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Hunt, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Davd McHugh.

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