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kidnap trial Kevin Lunney tells of 'unreal pain' after being attacked and bleach poured on his wounds during abduction

Kevin Lunney was threatened with being killed and bundled into the boot of an Audi before being driven away


Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

BUSINESSMAN Kevin Lunney told gardaí he went through “unreal pain” when his leg was broken and he was slashed with a stanley knife after he was abducted outside his Co Fermanagh home.

The Quinn Industrial Holdings director was told he would be killed unless he resigned, before one of his attackers scored his chest with the blade and said the letters “QIH” as though carving them in.

Bleach was poured onto his wounds during the violent assault in a horsebox at a yard before he was dumped on a roadside in Co Cavan, the Special Criminal Court heard.

Prosecutor Sean Guerin was delivering his opening speech to the non-jury court in the trial of four men charged over Mr Lunney's abduction in 2019.

Luke O’Reilly (67), from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan, Darren Redmond (27), of Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and Alan O’Brien (40) of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 1, all deny false imprisonment and causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan, on September 17th, 2019.

Another man, ‘YZ’ (40), who cannot be named for legal reasons, has also pleaded not guilty to the same offences.

The four stood and formally entered their pleas when they were arraigned before the three-judge court today.

Mr Guerin said Mr Lunney was and remains a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings. It appeared that what was done to him was done in connection with the affairs of the company and his role in it. However, he said it was not necessary to dwell on the background and the prosecution was not relying on connecting the accused to it. The prosecution’s case was that they were acting on behalf of another or others.

Three of the accused; Mr O’Brien, Mr Redmond and YZ were alleged to have been directly physically involved in the attack, while Mr O’Reilly was alleged to have “provided material assistance in the planning and execution of the offences.”

Mr Guerin said Mr Lunney arrived at the laneway leading to his home at Derrylin, Co Fermanagh after 6pm and noticed a car parked there. He stopped and the car reversed into his “at speed.”

Two men in balaclavas emerged and ran towards his car, broke into it and overpowered him. “Not without a struggle,” they took him from his car and Mr Lunney became aware a third man had arrived in a black car which appeared to be an Audi.

The man, who seemed older and heavier, was armed with a stanley knife that was put to Mr Lunney’s neck.

He was threatened with being killed and bundled into the boot of the Audi and was driven away. During the journey, he managed to open the boot from the inside but was not able to escape because of the speed the car was travelling at.

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It stopped and the men came to the boot, one striking Mr Lunney in the face with a wooden object.

He was pushed back into the car and the journey continued. He became aware the driver was on the phone in contact with another person who appeared to be in charge of the criminal operation.

He heard him say “boss, this man resisted and we had to hit him.” Mr Lunney was again threatened with being killed and taken to a place a short distance from the road. He was taken from the car and led to a blue container with a steel floor.

He was threatened with a knife and was “told specifically he was there because of Quinn Industrial Holdings and told he had to resign.”

He was also told other named directors of the company had to resign and “he had to stop all these court cases and injunctions north and south.”

There was talk of “people being put out of jobs” and he was told he had been watched for six weeks and a comment was made about his children.

He told them he would do whatever they wanted if they did not kill him and they said if he did not do what they said, they would kill him, Mr Guerin continued.

There was a “lull” and one of the men said “we have a problem with the DNA,” the court heard.

“The man with the blade went about cutting and scraping under his fingernails, in some cases drawing blood,” Mr Guerin said.

One of the men insisted that they needed bleach, there was some discussion about this idea and a decision was made to bind Mr Lunney’s hands with cable ties around his wrists.

Two of the men left and he was left alone with one for around 15 minutes. During this time, he was kneeling on the floor on dried animal dung in “some considerable discomfort.”

When the others came back, a thick liquid was poured over his hands. His clothing was removed from his body with the knife and bleach was poured over his body.

Mr Lunney was given a cloth and told to rub it up and down. Bleach was also squirted under the face covering he had on, the court heard.

He was told again to resign and to tell other directors to resign and was told he would be let go but “would have to be roughed up first.”

He was struck “twice to the leg with considerable force with a blunt instrument, causing what he described as “unreal pain.” There would be medical evidence of breaking of the bone.

After the first blow, the man who struck him asked “did that snap?” and another said it didn’t. He was struck a second time.

After that he was repeatedly struck - up to 20 times - as he lay on the ground. Each time he was struck, he was told “you are going to resign.”

The man with the knife said: “we will have to mark you” and his face was cut repeatedly, on both sides.

“The knife was taken to his chest and his chest was scored with the knife,” Mr Guerin said, “As this was being done, the man said the letters “QIH” as though he was carving them into his chest.”

It was mentioned again about court, Mr Guerin said.

Mr Lunney thought he was in the trailer for 40 minutes in total before he was brought to another vehicle he thought was a van. He was again asked to confirm that he was going to resign and was told he was going to “make no statement to the guards” and they threatened they would be back if he did.

He was driven away, taken from the van and his face pushed into a ditch. The covering was removed from his face and they left.

Mr Lunney struggled up the road a considerable distance in great pain before he was seen by a driver passing at around 8.45 to 9pm.

The driver and bystanders were able to assist him until the gardaí arrived.

There would be medical evidence of the bone breaking and disfigurement that brought the charge within the threshold of serious harm, Mr Guerin said.

The procuring of bleach was seen by gardaí as a significant element and the prosecution would say Luke O’Reilly went to a shop in the area at 8pm and bought bleach.

When gardaí went to his address, he said: “I know why you are here, you are here because I bought a bottle of bleach.”

Phone records showed shortly before and after buying the bleach, Mr O’Reilly’s phone was in contact with a number connected to Cyril McGuinness, also known as “Dublin Jimmy”, who is now deceased.

It was alleged McGuinness called Mr O’Reilly before he went to purchase the bleach.

Mr McGuinness’s phone records showed a couple of minutes before this, there was an incoming call from a phone linked to YZ, connecting to the network from an area near where Mr Lunney was found.

This was consistent with the call Mr Lunney had described. It was alleged McGuinness was called looking for bleach and he made a call to Mr O’Reilly who went and got it, then McGuinness called back a few minutes later to confirm that that was done.

Gardai identified a location in Dublin YZ had visited the previous day, September 16 and CCTV footage from an apartment complex showed YZ meeting Alan O’Brien.

A silver Renault Kangoo with red lightning bolts was seen leaving and the prosecution would say YZ was in it and made the journey on both days with Mr O’Brien, while Mr Redmod travelled with them on September 17, the day of the attack.

There was no call data for Mr O’Brien to connect him to that journey, but the prosecution had CCTV evidence. There was both CCTV evidence and phone location data in relation to Mr Redmond, Mr Guerin said.

The Kangoo was not located again until October 23, 2019, when it was allegedly driven by Mr O’Brien to a premises in Duleek, Co Meath. It was seized and gardaí found bloodstaining with a DNA profile matching Mr Lunney’s. It was not the prosecution’s case that Mr Lunney was in the Kangoo, but his blood could have been transferred to it, Mr Guerin said.

DNA found behind the driver’s seat matched Darren Redmond’s profile.

There would be evidence that Cyril McGuinness organised the importation of the Kangoo from the UK. The Audi used to abduct Mr Lunney had not been recovered but the prosecution would say there was evidence to connect Mr McGuinness with the sourcing of a Cork-registered Audi that was in the Derrylin area the day before the attack.

YZ would be linked to that Audi through possession of an eFlow tag, Mr Guerin said.

Gardaí identified a yard in Drumbrade as the alleged crime scene and found blood in a horsebox which matched Mr Lunney’s profile. The yard was on land registered to Luke O’Reilly, Mr Guerin said.

He told the court it was a complex case and the prosecution would be calling a possible 250 witnesses but it came to a few relatively simple propositions.

One was that the pattern of movement of the Kangoo and Mr Lunney’s blood in it suggested it was used by his attackers to get from Dublin to Cavan for the purpose of committing the offence. YZ, Mr O’Brien and Mr Redmond could be connected to that journey by good quality CCTV footage, as well as call data for two of them - YZ and Mr Redmond.

This was supported by DNA matching Mr Redmond’s being found in the van.

Mr O’Reilly could be connected to the events through the fact that the alleged offences happened on his land and when the attackers decided to use bleach to cover their trial, it was Mr O’Reilly they turned to through McGuinness.

The attackers’ actions were carried out under the instruction of the late McGuinness, who could be connected to the vehicles that were used and he was a “crucial link” between the three attackers and Mr O’Reilly, Mr Guerin said.

Mr Lunney, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and grey patterned tie, sat in the main body of the courtroom and listened as Mr Guerin opened the state’s case against the four.

The trial, before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, is expected to last 12 weeks.

It had originally been scheduled to start in January, but was delayed due to public health concerns caused by Covid-19 and the number of witnesses. Yesterday, a legal challenge by the defence teams to the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court to try the case was rejected.

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