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kidnap trial Man (67) charged in connection with Kevin Lunney's abduction told gardai 'I have nothing to hide'

Luke O’Reilly is accused of providing 'material assistance in the planning and execution of the offences.'

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Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

ONE of the men charged over the abduction and torture of Quinn executive Kevin Lunney told investigating gardai he “wouldn’t know the man if I met him” and he had “nothing to hide.”

Luke O’Reilly (67), who owned the land where Mr Lunney (52) was allegedly imprisoned and assaulted in a horsebox, denied any involvement in what was happening “around the Quinn companies.”

He immediately told officers who called to his home after the attack “you are here because I bought that bottle of bleach” and said he had got it shopping for his wife.

Mr Lunney had said his assailants poured bleach on his wounds and gardai were following this early line of enquiry when they called to Mr O’Reilly’s house.

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Luke O’Reilly (Niall Carson/PA)

Luke O’Reilly (Niall Carson/PA)

Luke O’Reilly (Niall Carson/PA)

Evidence was continuing at the Special Criminal Court today in the trial of four men charged over Mr Lunney’s abduction and torture in 2019.

The Quinn Industrial Holdings 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.

Four men are on trial at the three-judge, non-jury 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.

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Kevin Lunney (BBC Spotlight/PA)

Kevin Lunney (BBC Spotlight/PA)

Kevin Lunney (BBC Spotlight/PA)

The court heard around the time of Mr Lunney’s imprisonment that evening, Mr O’Reilly was seen buying a bottle of Domestos at Lynch’s Gala shop at Killydoon, Co Cavan.

Garda Sergeant Michael Kearney said in evidence he went to Mr O’Reilly’s home at Mullahoran Lower on September 20, before his yard at Drumbrade had been identified as a potential crime scene.

Before Sgt Kearney asked any questions, he said: “I know why you are here. You are here because I bought that bottle of bleach.”

Mr O'Reilly was shown a warrant and said “that is fair enough, I have nothing to hide.” When told he was not under arrest and could seek legal advice, he repeated: “I have nothing to hide.”

The garda took a cautioned memo in Mr O’Reilly’s sitting room.

The accused said his son had gone to the shop for his wife but when she asked if he had got bleach, the son cursed and said “no I didn’t.”

“I was eating my dinner and said when I had my dinner ate I would go and get it,” Mr O’Reilly said in the memo.

An hour later, he went to Lynch’s shop. He said he did not know where the bleach was and had to ask the girl in the shop where it was. He got it, paid for it and left.

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Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

He was working in the yard for about a half hour on a battery charger and came back to the house.

“I said, leave the news on for a bit, that is how I remember,” he said.

The only other people who had been in the yard apart from him and his son David were a man and a woman from Belfast who came to drop off horses before he went to get the bleach. He gave their details to the gardai.

When told the gardai would have to seize his phone, he said “that is no problem.”

Sgt Kearney then told him he was investigating “the false imprisonment of a fella called Kevin Lunney,” and it was “all over the news.”
“I have seen it on the news, I wouldn’t know the man if I met him,” he said.

Sgt Kearney asked if he had “any involvement with what’s happening around the Quinn companies.”

“Definitely not,” he replied.

Sgt Kearney saw the yard at Dumbrade, which appeared locked that day, but did not know it was connected to Mr O’Reilly at that stage.

Det Supt James O’Leary said at 7.45pm on September 17, he was given information from the PSNI that a vehicle belonging to Mr Lunney and a second vehicle were on fire outside his home in Co Fermanagh, and his whereabouts were unknown.

He was aware of the background of “various criminal incidents” connected with Quinn Industrial Holdings, and there was a degree of cooperation with the PSNI in relation to various investigations.

He directed the establishment of checkpoints and there were efforts to locate any phone Mr Lunney had. Speaking to the PSNI, he became aware of the possible involvement of a black Audi and coordinated the initial garda response.

When he spoke to the PSNI again at around 9pm, the officer was in fact speaking to Mr Lunney on a different line.

Mr Lunney’s whereabouts were established and Det Supt O’Leary directed a colleague to accompany Mr Lunney in the ambulance to get what information she could and an initial account of what happened to him.

Gardai learned the period of time Mr Lunney had spent getting to the place he had been imprisoned and some description of the physical layout of the place, and of the container.

He had also told them that some of his captors had left for 15 to 20 minutes and returned with a bottle of bleach.

Shops in the area were canvassed and it was established a man in his 60s had bought a bottle for bleach from Lynch’s Gala in Killydoon.

When gardai called to Mr O’Reilly’s house, the yard there was not a match for what Mr Lunney had described.

In a flyover by the air support unit on September 21, gardai were able to see the top of a blue horsebox that had not been visible from the road at the yard at Drumbrade.

This was registered to Mr O’Reilly. It was declared a crime scene and a search warrant was obtained.

When Mr O’Reilly became a person of interest, an application was made for his phone records.

In cross-examination, Michael O’Higgins SC, for YZ put it to Det Supt O’Leary that Mr Lunney had made a reference to four men when he spoke to gardai. Det Supt O’Leary said in interview, Mr Lunney said he “only ever saw three people.”

The trial continues.

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