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Trial delay Special Criminal Court trial of of four men accused of abducting Kevin Lunney delayed again

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Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

THE trial of four men accused of abducting and seriously assaulting Quinn executive Kevin Lunney has been delayed again, with legal argument getting underway first at the Special Criminal Court.

The 12-week trial was due to open today but the non-jury, three-judge court heard an application on legal issues is to be made at the outset on behalf of one of the defendants.

Mr Lunney (51), a director of Quinn Executive Holdings and father-of-six, had his leg broken, was doused in bleach and had the letters ‘QIH’ carved into his chest before he was dumped on a roadside in Co Cavan in 2019.

Luke O’Reilly (67), from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan, Darren Redmond (26), of Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and Alan O’Brien (40) of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 1, are charged with false imprisonment and causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan, on September 17th, 2019.

Another man, ‘YZ’, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is charged with the same offences.

Today, prosecutor Sean Guerin SC said the case was listed for a “significant number of weeks” and that Michael O’Higgins SC, for “YZ,” was making an application on “matters of law and jurisdiction” at the outset.

He said the issues would probably take “a day or so” to argue. Mr O’Higgins asked the court to begin hearing the application tomorrow and said he would hand in written submissions.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, granted the adjournment to tomorrow.

Mr O'Reilly and Mr Redmond were remanded on continuing bail while the other two accused remain in custody. The four have not yet been arraigned to formally enter their pleas.

Mr Lunney, dressed in a navy suit, sat in the main body of the court during the brief hearing.

The trial is expected to last 12 weeks, running until the court goes on vacation at the end of July and resuming in September.

It had originally been fixed for trial last January, but was continually delayed due to public health concerns over Covid-19 and the number of witnesses.

In December, the court dismissed a bid to halt the trial over a ruling expected from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on data retention.

Mr O’Higgins had argued that the law on the retention and accessing of mobile phone data was in “a state of significant uncertainty” in Ireland and that the trial should not proceed until the matter was resolved.

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However, Mr Justice Hunt said that that was not enough to justify an adjournment.

The judge also found the fact that a Renault Kangoo van involved in the case went on fire while in the possession of gardaí was “immutable” and was also not a sufficient basis to adjourn.

One of the four men had complained to the Garda Ombudsman that DNA was allegedly “planted” on the van that he alleges was deliberately destroyed in a fire so it would not be made available to the defence.

However, the prosecution said the fire began accidentally and that CCTV footage had been disclosed to the defence.

It had also been unsuccessfully argued by defence counsel that the trial should not go on until the Ombudsman’s investigation into that matter is completed.

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