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horror kidnapping Van 'used in Kevin Lunney kidnapping later sold to motor dealer for €400' court hears

Renault Kangoo was allegedly used by three men on the day Mr Lunney was abducted and tortured

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Businessman Kevin Lunney

Businessman Kevin Lunney

Businessman Kevin Lunney

A van suspected to have been involved in the Kevin Lunney kidnapping was later sold to a motor dealer for €400 by a man he knew only as "David", the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The car dealer said the van was then handed over to him by a quiet "young fella" at a Co Meath test centre and gardai came to him looking for the keys the next day.

He told the court he had never been in the van before it was seized it as evidence.

It is alleged the Renault Kangoo van was used by three accused men to travel from Dublin to Cavan on the day Mr Lunney was abducted and tortured.

Mr Lunney (52), a 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 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.

Four men are on trial at the 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 (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.

Today, James Maguire, from Drogheda, told Sean Guerin SC, prosecuting, he was in the business of buying and selling cars, vans, pony traps and “anything that comes his way.”

On October 24, 2019, gardai called to him and asked him about a Renault Kangoo van which he had had some dealings with the day before.

Mr Maguire did not recognise the English registration number but knew the vehicle. He had made an agreement with a man he knew only as “David” from Dublin to buy the van. The arrangement was that Mr Maguire would buy the van for €400 and the man would meet him later that day at Paul Kavanagh’s Test Centre on the Duleek Road for the handover.

He drove in his own car to Kavanagh’s at 4pm and met a man he described as “a young fella” with the van. He did not know who the man was “didn’t have much conversation with him either,” describing him as “quiet.”

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He paid the €400 and brought the man back to his own house in his own car, then showed him where he could get a bus.

Mr Maguire did not know the man he collected the van from and had no contact details for him, or for the man he had met earlier that day.

When the gardai spoke to him, he handed over the keys he had got for the van. He had never been in the van himself. He had planned to get it tested but the gardai seized it that day.

“Mr Maguire didn’t get much for his €400,” Mr Guerin said.

The court heard evidence of how the van was recovered and stored.

Brian Teeling of GT Recovery said he went to Paul Kavanagh’s Test Centre on October 23 and met gardai from Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan.

He loaded the Kangoo onto a lorry and left it at Santry garda station.

Gregory Rice told Garrett Baker BL, for the prosecution, he worked at Ted Brennan Motors, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

On December 12, 2019, escorted by a garda, he collected the Kangoo from an area at Santry station. He stopped en route at a hardware outlet to get polythene and masking tape to cover the van.

At Ted Brennan’s, the van was put into a secure storage room known as “Tech Room 2” and the doors were closed. The garda was present at all times during the procedure.

On May 1, 2020, he transported the same vehicle to a storage yard, but by that stage “the vehicle had been burned in a fire” and he took “what was left of the vehicle,” again under garda escort.

In cross-examination, Mr Rice told Michael O’Higgins SC, for YZ, that Ted Brennan’s had a contract to store vehicles in cases coming to trial and there was a sectioned off area where it was held.

Another Ted Brennan’s employee said he was involved in taking the van off the recovery truck and putting it in the storage room. There was no damage done to the van during the procedure.

Christine Lumsden, crime scene investigator with the PSNI said she examined a burned out BMW 5-series car following the abduction outside Mr Lunney’s home.

She found a melted plastic container in the front stairwell which smelled strongly of petrol. She also noticed a smell of ammonia.

Earlier, intelligence analysts for the gardai, Dr Edel Hannigan, Sarah Skedd and Adam Lane gave evidence of producing maps and charts setting out the phone call and location records, cell site locations and corresponding CCTV sightings of vehicles being relied on by the prosecution.

The evidence had been challenged by the defence but was ruled admissible by the court after weeks of legal argument.

It purports to show how phone numbers alleged to have been used by YZ and Mr Redmond were connecting to the mobile network through cell sites at locations between north inner city Dublin and Co Cavan on the day of the abduction.

The court heard of a series of contacts between a phone number ending in -9717, attributed to YZ and a number ending -2200, attributed to the now-deceased suspected organiser of the abduction, Cyril McGuinness, also known as Dublin Jimmy.

These included contacts on the day of the abduction, as well as the days before and after it.

A document showed a “to and fro” between the number attributed to YZ and a number ending in -1567 attributed to Darren Redmond, including on September 17.

Another chart showed four contacts between the McGuinness number and -1567 number, all on September 12, 2019.

The McGuinness number was in contact with a number ending in -6640 attributed to Mr O’Reilly minutes before Mr O'Reilly was seen on CCTV buying bleach from a shop in Killydoon, Co Cavan on the night of the abduction, the court heard.

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

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