Northern Ireland news

'I felt I was going to die': Kevin Lunney tells of brutal abduction and torture

Kevin Lunney speaks to BBC's Spotlight programme about his abduction and torture
Brendan Hughes

KEVIN Lunney has described how he feared he was going to die by the roadside after being abducted and brutally tortured by a masked gang.

The Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director described the "excruciating" pain as his attackers broke his leg in two places, sliced his skin with a Stanley knife and doused him in bleach.

His captors also branded him by carving 'QIH' into his chest, telling him it was "just so that you remember why you're here".

Mr Lunney's voice broke with emotion as he spoke publicly for the first time about his ordeal to BBC's Spotlight programme.

The Co Fermanagh businessman suffered multiple cuts to his face and body and has grown a beard to hide the scars.

"I thought are they going to shoot me. I thought that I wouldn't see the children," the father-of-six said.

"I thought maybe they were just deciding this was it, they weren't able to get themselves cleared and they wanted to make it permanent."

Mr Lunney was abducted outside his home in September and was found bleeding on a remote roadside after being dumped in Co Cavan.

Read More: QIH directors tell Garda Commissioner Drew Harris they 'continue to live in fear'

It was the most serious attack in a campaign of intimidation and violence targeting QIH and its directors.

A cross-border police investigation is under way but the perpetrators remain at large and a fresh threat was issued against the directors by the gang responsible last week.

Mr Lunney (50) told how he was driving up a lane towards his home when a car ahead of him reversed at speed and smashed into the front of his vehicle.

A gang of three forced him by knifepoint into the boot of a black Audi, before torching his car and the other vehicle.

Tony Lunney recalls the night his brother Kevin was abducted

Mr Lunney made an attempt to escape, opening the boot from the inside.

"I went to jump but I hadn't realised that the third guy inside the car had taken the seats down so he had come into the boot on his belly and had caught my right foot. I went to jump and he caught me by the right foot, so I kind of fell back into the boot," he said.

After the gang secured the boot again, Mr Lunney recalled hearing one of his captors on the phone addressing someone as "boss".

"Saying something like, 'Boss, this man's resisted and we've hit him'. So the individuals were reporting back to somebody, I don't know who," he said.

Read More: Roots to fallout which saw Sean Quinn leave role at Quinn Industrial Holdings

Later they placed a bag over his head before leading him into a horse box.

His captors told him they wanted him to resign from QIH, which he agreed to before the torture began.

"One of them started with the Stanley knife on each of my fingers. He started to run the Stanley knife underneath each nail quite hard and deep so each of them was bleeding a little bit, deep enough that it was sore and painful," he said.

"They must have thought I had his DNA or some of the DNA on my fingers."

The gang then poured bleach over him.

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"That was very, very sore (because of the cuts). Then he started with a cloth and started to rub my hands which were tied, rubbed them and rubbed them, really, really hard, and that was agony with the bleach."

They cut off his clothes with the knife, leaving him with multiple cuts and wearing only his underwear, before pouring more bleach over his body and face.

"It was excruciating, the pain of the bleach – I was screaming, I think," he said.

They told him again to resign from QIH, as well as other directors, and warned that he was being watched.

"At one stage he said, 'We have been watching you, we have seen you with your little daughter with the GAA top and you are going to do what we say'."

Mr Lunney said his captors told him they "had to rough him up".

"He says, 'Hold out your leg'... next thing was he hit it... I think it was a either a baseball bat or a short fence post, and I heard it breaking and I roared, the pain was awful.

"He said to the other guy holding the torch, 'Did that snap?'. He said 'No', so he immediately hit it again, same place or close, and it was a hundred times worse the second time."

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The men then cut his face and chest.

"He said, 'Now we have to mark you as well', I didn't know what that meant. He said, 'Give me your face', he took the Stanley knife and just went five, six scrapes down each side of the face so I started to bleed.

"He said, 'Just so that you remember why you're here,' he put QIH on my chest with the Stanley knife."

Mr Lunney was then dumped on the side of a road and warned not to speak to gardaí.

After the van drove off, he dragged himself to a junction in the hope of getting help.

"I was there for a while and there was no cars and I was really, really worried," he said.

"I prayed a lot then, I was conscious I was starting to shiver. I was in agony."

Mr Lunney said he had started to drag himself up the road towards a house when he heard a tractor coming and raised the alarm.

"I felt that I was going to die on the road.. I almost gave up. I thought about the kids, [his wife] Bronagh and just surviving."

The QIH executive said he believes his captors were acting on a "list of brutally specific orders".

"I think certainly the breaking the leg was on the list, it was, 'We have to rough you up, we have to mark you', and I think at the end with the things on my chest, it was, 'We have to make you remember'."

QIH management yesterday called for a cross-border task force to be set up after meeting Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

The directors say they "continue to live in fear" following the attack on Mr Lunney.

Last week The Irish News reported how a masked gang had issued a new "last warning" threat against the QIH directors.

The death threat was condemned by politicians on both sides of the border as "disgusting and unacceptable".

The Kevin Lunney Spotlight will be repeated tonight on BBC Two NI at 11.15pm.  It is also available to watch on the BBC iPlayer.

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