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horror account Bleach burns, blade cuts and balaclavas - a chilling opening week in Kevin Lunney trial

Quinn executive recalled the horror account of alleged torture to court

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Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

THE CCTV footage on the screen showed blonde-haired Megan McClean vacuuming the mat at the door.

It was something she did every evening as part of the closing time routine in Lynch's Gala, a grocery shop in Killydoon, Co Cavan, where she worked.

Ms McClean was giving evidence via video-link at the Special Criminal Court.

As the footage from inside the shop on September 17, 2019 continued to play, a grey-haired man could be seen walking through the entrance to the store.

It was between 7.50pm and 8.20pm. The witness, who had been working in the shop for around three months at the time, told the court he "looked like a farmer" and spoke with a local accent, asking straight away, "Do you sell bleach?"

***

In the opening week of the trial of four men facing charges of false imprisonment and causing serious harm to Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney, the topic of bleach, specifically how bleach was used during the alleged abduction and torture of the 52-year-old businessman, was a key focus of much of the evidence.

On Thursday, Mr Lunney told the court how, during one stage of his captivity, his attackers became concerned with the issue of DNA.

"We need bleach" said one man, according to Mr Lunney.

For almost two hours, he recalled the events of September 17, 2019 to the court.

Men in balaclavas. Stanley blades under fingernails. Skin burning with bleach.

Perhaps, most chillingly, a message carved into his chest, to remind him of what he had endured.

For those listening, including the three-judge panel presiding over the case, it was a spine-chilling account, horrific in its detail and yet delivered by the witness without any sign of emotion.

With the fluency and calmness of someone completely detached from events, Mr Lunney recalled, in forensic detail, the various assaults inflicted on him by his captors.

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He said the first blow was struck to his face after he tried to escape from the boot of the car.

Mr Lunney had managed to open the lock from the inside, much to the agitation of his aggressors.

"He's broke the F****** lock," one of the men said.

The break for freedom had come during a high-speed car journey after he had been abducted from the laneway of his family home, threatened with a Stanley knife and forced into the boot.

As the car he was in weaved along its path to a container where Mr Lunney was later tortured and threatened, the father-of-six said he took in as much detail as he could.

Through the back seat he made a mental note of what he could see. Flashes of treetops, tops of buildings, at one point what looked like a Lakeland Dairies sign.

He was still in the car when a hood was pulled over his head. "Don't be looking out," he was warned.

Alan O'Brien (40) from East Wall, Dublin and a second man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, sat in the accused bench listening to Mr Lunney's blow-by-blow account.

In a courtroom with limited capacity due to Covid, the distance between both men in the dock was marked by two large green dots.

Two more defendants, Darren Redmond (27) from Eastwall and Luke O'Reilly (67) from Kilcogy, Co.Cavan were at the back of the courtroom.

All four wore facemasks and remained unflinching throughout.

***

What happened inside the container did not make for easy listening.

Hooded, with his hands tightly bound with cable ties, Mr Lunney said he felt a Stanley knife pressing towards his neck.

"Do you know why you are here?" asked one of the men.

Mr Lunney said he did not know if he replied no or not, but in any case, he was told exactly why.

"You are here because if Quinn Industrial Holdings," he was told.

His attackers also told him what the conditions of his safe release were.

He was instructed to resign from his position alongside three other directors in Quinn Industrial Holdings.

He was also told to "drop all charges and injunctions North and South".

In fear fof his life, he agreed. The same instructions were given to him many times during the two-and-a-half-hour ordeal.

After using a Stanley blade to scrape deep under each of his fingernails, Mr Lunney said the men stripped him to his boxers and doused him "from head to toe" in bleach.

He said he could smell it was bleach and he could feel it burning the cuts in his hands

Next, one of them took a "wooden implement" and proceeded to break his right leg.

Attention then turned to his right arm, which was struck up to 20 times, before both sides of his face were scored with the blade.

In a final barbaric act, one of the men took the blade and pressed it into Mr Lunney's chest.

Saying each word as he carved the letters QIH into his skin, he told him: "So you remember why you are here."

***

IT was shortly after 9pm when Mr Lunny, battered, bruised and dazed, was dumped out on to a remote country road.

His captors had given him clear instructions about what to do when they left.

"You have to keep your head into the ditch," they told him

"We are going to go now. If you look up or look at this van we are going to kill you."

With that, they pulled the rag off his head and drove off.

He waited where he was dumped, but not for very long.

Shoeless and stripped to his underwear, he began to drag himself along the road in a bid to get help.

All he could see were heavy blackthorn bushes, but further ahead there was a crossroads and a light in the distance.

"I was exhausted," he told the court.

"I could sense the blood running down my chest and I was conscious my face was bleeding.

"My left arm and left leg were all I could use to push myself along, but I decided to push myself towards that window and kept doing that for, I don't know, a number of minutes.

He stopped a couple of times, exhausted, before pushing on again.

"I was getting fearful that I wouldn't get there and nobody would come," he said.

Luckily, someone did come

Giving evidence this week, tractor driver Aaron Brady described the moment he came across Mr Lunney.

He was driving along in his tractor when he saw Mr Lunney lying in a ditch with "blood all over him",

Taking out his mobile phone, he dialled a number Mr Lunney gave him, a number that took him through to an officer with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

He had found a man on the side of the road, he told him. The man was Kevin Lunney.

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