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closing speech Kevin Lunney kidnapping accused's actions were 'suspicious' but do not prove guilt, defence claim

The prosecution alleges the now-deceased Cyril McGuinness, also known as “Dublin Jimmy” had coordinated the kidnapping.

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Businessman Kevin Lunney

Businessman Kevin Lunney

Businessman Kevin Lunney

The actions of one of the accused in the Kevin Lunney kidnapping were “suspicious” but the evidence against him “fell short” of proof of guilt, the Special Criminal Court has been told.

A defence lawyer said the accused in the case had simply been “allocated lead roles” in the kidnapping although other unidentified people were involved.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for an unnamed defendant known as “YZ” was delivering his closing speech at the non-jury court today. The prosecution had closed its case yesterday after a nine week trial.

Mr Lunney (52), a Quinn Industrial Holdings director, was bundled into the boot of a car by a masked gang outside his Derrylin, Co Fermanagh home and driven to a yard where his captors held him in a horsebox while attacking him and ordering him to resign from the company.

During a 45-minute assault, his leg was broken with a wooden bat, his face slashed with a stanley knife and his wounds doused in bleach.

One of his assailants carved “QIH” into his chest with the knife before he was dumped, stripped to his boxer shorts, on a roadside in Drumcoghill, Co Cavan.

Four men are on trial over Mr Lunney's kidnapping.

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

Luke 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 prosecution alleges the now-deceased Cyril McGuinness, also known as “Dublin Jimmy” had coordinated the kidnapping.

Mr O’Higgins in his closing speech today conceded that some of YZ’s actions had been “suspicious” but urged the three judges “to avoid a conclusion that might appear logical and could appear to sit side by side with the suspicions, but falls short of the requisite proof.”

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He said there were four “vehicles of interest” in the case, including a Renault Kangoo van alleged to have been used by YZ, Mr O’Brien and Mr Redmond to travel to Cavan on the 17th and and a black Audi alleged to have been used to abduct Mr Lunney.

McGuinness was connected by the prosecution to both vehicles, having “openly imported” the Kangoo. He was believed to have been present when the Audi was sold.

YZ had been linked by the prosecution to the Audi through its e-flow tag which had been transferred at some point to the Kangoo. It was found in YZ’s home and he told gardai he took it from the Kangoo when it was being sold.

Scenarios suggested by the prosecution as to how the tag got into the Kangoo were “grievously flawed,” and there was “not a shred of evidence” to support them, he said.

His client had been described as “forensically aware,” yet the tag was found sitting on his kitchen counter.

It was common case that YZ knew McGuinness for many years but the extent of that relationship was on the evidence was unknown, Mr O'Higgins said.

There was “very regular” phone contact between June 2019 and the end of September and Mr O’Higgins said it was “not unusual” for YZ to be in and about the border.

He acknowledged that McGuinness had been “no saint” but said “there’s no concept in law known as guilt by association.”

It had been accepted by the prosecution that there must have been other people involved in the kidnapping and prosecutor Sean Guerin had suggested a higher up “big boss,” Mr O’Higgins said.

Despite this, the prosecution had “simply allocated” lead parts to the people leaving Dublin in the Kangoo van.

The court had to ask how many other people might have been in the group.

“It appears almost by a process of osmosis that the people before the court are being allocated the lead roles,” he said.

Call data could only be used to people being in contact and geographical areas but the prosecution had invited the court to conclude what was said in conversations and there was no evidence for this.

YZ was not charged with being reasonably suspected of the offences but of actually committing them and Mr O’Higgins said the evidence was “well overstated” and “suspicious interactions are being converted by the prosecution into matters of fact.”

The prosecution said the likelihood was that the Audi was stored at the yard in Drumbrade.

“These scenarios are not supported when you go through the nitty gritty of the case,” Mr O’Higgins said.

“The grit is not there and there’s an attempt to backfill it by inviting the court to reach conclusions that are not evidentially based.”

It was a fact that on September 17, the Kangoo was “uncomfortably close to the heat” of certain aspects of the events. It was also a fact that the van was not used to kidnap Mr Lunney.

If it was not known what its role was it was difficult to assess the roles of the people connected to that van, he said.

The trial continues.

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