'No discussion' between gardaí investigating Lunney abduction and owners of CCTV footage, court told
Defence lawyers seeking to exclude video evidence from trial of four men charged with abduction and torture of businessman (52)
PROPERTY owners who handed over CCTV to detectives investigating the kidnapping of Kevin Lunney had “no discussion” with the gardaí about what the footage was needed for, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
Local business owners in Co Cavan said they followed standard procedures when surrendering video footage and the gardaí did not speak to them about data privacy laws.
The witnesses were being questioned by defence lawyers who are continuing to challenge the admissibility of video evidence in the non-jury trial of four men charged over Mr Lunney’s abduction and torture in 2019.
The Quinn Industrial Holdings director (52) was bundled into a car outside his Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, home and taken to a container 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 the letters, “Q I H” into his chest with the knife and told him it was so he would “remember” before dumping him, stripped to his boxer shorts, on a roadside in Drumcoghill, Co Cavan, the court has heard.
Darren Redmond (27), of Caledon Road, and 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 (67), from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan is accused of providing “material assistance in the planning and execution of the offences" and owned the land where Mr Lunney was allegedly held.
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 is seeking to adduce CCTV evidence which they say links the accused to the alleged offences.
This includes footage purporting to show a silver Renault Kangoo van travelling from YZ’s apartment complex in Dublin on a trip to Cavan and back the day before the abduction.
It is also claimed it shows the same van returning to Cavan on the day Mr Lunney was kidnapped.
The prosecution alleges YZ and Mr O’Brien made a “preparatory” journey to Cavan in the van on September 16 and that they were joined by Mr Redmond on September 17.
The prosecution has described the footage is “good quality,” claiming it links the three accused to the journeys, as does mobile phone data evidence in YZ and Mr Redmond’s cases.
CCTV has been played back to the court for several days. Today, business owners from Cavan gave evidence of allowing gardaí to view and download footage from security cameras at their premises.
Cross-examined by Giollaíosa Ó Lideaha SC, for Alan O’Brien, witnesses agreed they gave gardaí access to their CCTV systems when they called and made enquiries.
Andrew Gould, of Gould's Timber products in Crossdoney, Co Cavan, said gardaí called to his premises on September 20, 2019, and handed him a data protection request form. He gave them permission to download footage from September 17, 2019.
He agreed with Mr Ó Lideaha that there was no discussion about what they wanted the footage for, or about data privacy laws or their obligations under legislation.
This was their standard practice and he “let them at it".
“I had no idea what it was about,” Mr Gould said.
Others gave similar evidence and confirmed they did not "go behind" the request. PSNI Detective Constables Linda Strawbridge and Emma Crudden gave evidence of obtaining CCTV footage from property owners in Co Fermanagh at locations including along the main route through Derrylin and land neighbouring Mr Lunney’s home.
In cross-examination by Michael O’Higgins SC, for YZ, they confirmed that when taking up CCTV footage, the PSNI used a personal data request form that was introduced in Northern Ireland after the UK’s 2018 Data Protection Act.
Detective Constable Michael Askin told prosecutor Seán Guerin in November 2019 he went to Holyhead, Wales, and viewed footage in relation to a silver Mercedes D-class car.
The driver was Cyril McGuinness, who the court previously heard was also known as ‘Dublin Jimmy’, a now-deceased suspect in Mr Lunney’s abduction.
AIB security operative Alan Croke said in November 2019, he got data request forms from gardaí, seeking footage.
He confirmed to Mr O'Higgins that he did not "go behind" the request, and requests were received on a daily basis.
Witnesses who provided CCTV evidence to gardaí and PSNI officers gave evidence that they were told it was being sought in connection with a criminal investigation but it was not discussed further.
The defence are seeking the exclusion of the CCTV footage and phone data from the trial.
Previously, the court heard six days of legal argument on the admissibility of mobile records and the court has yet to rule on this issue.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.
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