Northern Ireland news

Tony Lunney: The abduction and torture of my brother Kevin was a terrifying ordeal

TONY Lunney was lying on the sofa watching the news on TV.

His wife had just made him a cup of tea and he had turned his phone to silent.

It was time to relax after a day's graft in the Derrylin office of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), where he is production director.

"On the Tuesday evening I was about to leave work and Kevin [Tony Lunney's younger brother and a QIH director and chief operating officer] popped into my office, which he quite often does a couple of times a day," Mr Lunney recalled.

"He ran something past me and then he said that he was going to be another 20-25 minutes and then he was off. I left just after 6pm..."

Mr Lunney (55) was sipping his tea when his wife answered the house phone. She shouted to her husband that it was Gerry Maguire, a long serving employee of the Quinn Group.

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"I'll take that," Mr Lunney said, suspecting that Mr Maguire wouldn't be calling unless he had good reason.

He said: "Tony there is something wrong down at Kevin's. His jeep is on fire half way up the lane and I can't get through to his mobile."

And so began one of the longest nights of Tony Lunney's life.

He grabbed his car keys and set off towards his younger brother's house.

Mr Lunney is from a family of 10. He is the second youngest. Kevin is the youngest.

"I rang my brother Peter three times and then tried my brother Frank. Peter rang back. He was just down the road. So they were [both] able to get there within three, four minutes.

"I was about 10 to 12 minutes to the scene. All I could see was a complete ball of flames. All I could see was the fireball. You wouldn't recognise the shape of any vehicle. There were explosions - tyres or the fuel tank.

"Kevin's phone was ringing out. Frank ran up to Kevin's house."

Mr Lunney said he knew that Mr Maguire was anxious in case Kevin was in the car. But he couldn't let himself think that.

The brothers and their friends and colleagues could only stand and watch as firefighters tackled the blaze.

"We were basically waiting to see. Then the fireman said there was nobody in the vehicle, which was a tremendous relief."

Mr Lunney fights back the tears as he recalls that night of Tuesday September 17. For a few hours, the Lunneys did not know if their brother, husband and father of six, was alive or dead.

Those who had gathered at the crime scene started to comb the area in case he had been left for dead somewhere nearby.

Tony Lunney quickly found another burning vehicle up a lane about 35 metres away, which is thought to have been one of the vehicles used by Kevin Lunney's attackers.

"Peter said maybe Kevin had been beaten up and he has run and he could be lying unconscious close by. We started looking for him and shouting for him.

"It was starting to get dark. We were worried he could be unconscious somewhere and he could die if we didn't get him."

Then Mr Lunney overheard a PSNI officer say that Kevin had been found in Cavan.

He was alive and in an ambulance.

Kevin was wrapped tightly in a silver blanket used to help prevent hypothermia when he was wheeled in to Cavan Hospital. He was in tremendous pain from his broken leg and Tony noticed that his cheeks were badly marked.

Tony Lunney would eventually leave the hospital at 6.30am on Wednesday morning.

The gruesome details of the attack would filter out over the next couple of days.

His leg was broken in two places, his face was slashed, and the letters QIH were carved into his chest with a Stanley knife. He was doused in bleach and dumped at the side of a road in Co Cavan.

In the horse box where he was held by his attackers, Kevin Lunney was told that he, his brother Tony and colleagues Liam McCaffrey, Dara O'Reilly and John McCartin must resign from their positions at QIH or be shot.

The kindness of the people who found Kevin Lunney lying at the side of a road will not be forgotten, said Tony.

Kevin's first thought when he was found was to get a message to his family that he was alive.

"The young lad on the tractor... he was driving along and happened to see Kevin's hand coming up and he thought it was a prank... He rang his mother then.

"She lived close by and came down in the car. She said what's up? He [Kevin] said this is something to do with the dispute in Quinn's, could you ring my wife, which she did... It was huge relief that he had been found."

The 'dispute in Quinn's' that Kevin Lunney spoke of to the lady who wrapped him up in anything she could find in the car while they waited for the emergency services is why Tony Lunney has agreed to be interviewed.

Over the past five years, there has been a campaign of intimidation and violence against five men - four senior executives at QIH and one director of the QBRC, the vehicle set up to represent the local shareholders of the business which was majority owned by Americans.

Tony Lunny: 'My daughter's car was burned'

"Five people were targeted - Liam [McCaffery], Dara [O'Reilly], Kevin, me and John McCartin," Mr Lunney said.

"On Facebook, or arson, or physical. The small factory I have that re-treads truck tyres was set on fire. The whole factory would have burned down, only I happened to get up to it and put it out before it all burned down. That happened on August 31 last year.

"Then my daughter's car was burned. It was my wedding anniversary, 25 years married and we were over in Edinburgh..."

How worried is Mr Lunney for his own safety since the sadistic attack on his brother?

"It is very hard to assess the risk... I don't know how you would protect against that. You'd need an army."

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