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Trial latest Van allegedly used in Kevin Lunney kidnapping shipped from UK three weeks earlier, court hears

The Special Criminal Court has heard a vehicle with the same registration as the Renault Kangoo was booked for an Irish Sea ferry crossing, paid for in the name of a “C. McGuinness”


Businessman Kevin Lunney

Businessman Kevin Lunney

Businessman Kevin Lunney

A van suspected to have been involved in businessman Kevin Lunney’s kidnapping was shipped to Dublin from the UK three weeks before the crime, it has been alleged.

The Special Criminal Court has heard a vehicle with the same registration as the Renault Kangoo was booked for an Irish Sea ferry crossing, paid for in the name of a “C. McGuinness”.

The prosecution maintains the now-deceased Cyril McGuinness, also known as “Dublin Jimmy” was the organiser of Mr Lunney’s abduction and imported the van to be used by his attackers.

Evidence was continuing today in the trial of four men charged over Mr Lunney’s kidnapping and torture in 2019.

The Quinn Industrial Holdings director (52) was bundled into a car outside his 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 “QIH” into his chest with the knife before dumping him, stripped to his boxer shorts, on a roadside in Drumcoghill, Co Cavan.

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 (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 17th, 2019, which they deny.

The trial has previously heard a Kangoo with a registration ending in -PXU and distinctive red lightning bolt stickers on the sides is suspected to have been used by Mr Lunney's assailants to get from Dublin to Cavan and back on the day of the kidnapping.

Today, Katie Norman told Garrett Baker BL, prosecuting, that she bought the Kangoo van some time in March 2019.

She decided to sell the van because the clutch needed to be fixed. She advertised it on Facebook marketplace, listing it in June that year, and got an enquiry from a man who said his name was Cameron Christie. They exchanged messages and he said he wanted to add a business partner to the chat, called Callum McLoughlin.

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Following arrangements, on August 1, Mr Christie said he would be coming that night with his “collection guy”.

They arrived in a recovery truck at 7.40pm. Mr Christie was a white male 5ft8in in height aged between 22 and 30, with very little hair and spoke with a “sort of Scunthorpe twang”.

He checked the van over while the second man, who said he was the first man’s father-in-law, stood beside the recovery truck. He was in his mid to late 40s with darker, short hair.

They agreed a new price of £200 and it was the second man who paid her in cash. She could not remember who filled out the paperwork. The men loaded the van onto the truck and she never saw it or them again. She later sent photos of the van to the police.

Stephen Lonsdale, of Victor Treacy International, a freight ferry company, said in July last year, gardaí made requests about two companies he had dealt with, White Fox International and Serbsk International.

White Fox set up an account in 2016, with two phone numbers on file. The contact name for the first number was Chris Hulse. There were 56 Irish Sea crossings by small vans between 2016 and February 2019.

In relation to Serbska, a man simply named "James" set up credit card details and gave the second phone number that had been used by White Fox.

He agreed with Mr Baker the same phone number, ending in - 8605, “straddled both companies".

Between February 2 and October 6, 2019, Serbska made 24 shippings across the Irish Sea.

There was no activity on the accounts for some time and the Serbska account was later deactivated.

Mr Lonsdale never met any of the people involved in the companies in person.

Laura Curran, shipping manager at Victor Treacy said on August 28, 2019, she took a booking from a man by the name of John. This was for a van with a registration ending -PXU. The court heard previously this was the registration for the Renault Kangoo suspected to be involved in the kidnapping.

The booking was to travel from Holyhead to Dublin in the Swift fast ferry on August 27, 2019.

The phone number provided, ending in - 8605, was the same number the court had heard “straddled” the two companies White Fox and Serbska.

The £234 payment was made using a VISA card ending -2714 and the name associated with the card was C. McGuinness.

Nicola Tanner of Nutt Travel, Coleraine, said a client booked a ferry crossing from Holyhead to Dublin for a car and one adult on October 12, 2019, using the credit card number ending -2714. The confirmation number was texted to a phone number ending in -8605 and an invoice emailed to serbskaint@gmail.com.

Linda Carroll of the passport office gave evidence of records of passport applications made by Cyril McGuinness, YZ and Alan O’Brien. Mr McGuinness gave a phone number ending in -8605 on his application, the court heard. The address for Mr O’Brien was North Circular Road, with a phone number ending in -1734. YZ’s application had been done online, with a phone number ending in -0654.

Evidence of records of a passport application by Mr Redmond was heard earlier in the trial.

The court heard evidence from several gardaí involved in searches of the homes of YZ, Mr O’Brien and Mr Redmond on November 8, 2019. In warrant applications, they had told a district court judge this was for evidence of or related to the offence of false imprisonment.

Detective Sergeant Michelle Gillick told prosecutor Sean Guerin SC that YZ was present when his apartment was searched. An iphone was found on a bedside locker and YZ identified it as his.

An e-flow tag was seized from the kitchen counter. Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras and toll both records for the tag showed it was associated with a 01C-registered Audi A4.

The trial has previously heard a black Audi was involved in Mr Lunney’s abduction.

Det Sgt Gillick completed a Data Protection Act request seeking to confirm whether Mr Redmond travelled to Dallas between September 6 and 11, 2019.

Det Gda Patrick Farrell said YZ’s partner’s iphone in a pink case was seized from the sitting room couch during the search of the accused’s home.
In cross examination he told Michael O’Higgins SC, for YZ, he would have seized any phone there for further investigation to establish if they were “connected” to the suspect.

Det Gda Brian Dunne said in the search of Mr Redmond’s home, a travel invoice from Cassidy Travel was found in the accused’s name for a return flight to Dallas between September 6 and 11.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.

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