Northern Ireland news

Trial of four men accused of abducting and assaulting Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director Kevin Lunney to begin end of May

Kevin Lunney. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

THE trial of four men accused of abducting and assaulting Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director Kevin Lunney will now proceed at the end of this month after almost five months of delays.

The case, which was in for mention yesterday before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, had originally been fixed for trial on January 11.

The non-jury trial had been continually delayed at the three-judge court due to Covid-19 and the number of witnesses in the case.

Father-of-six Mr Lunney (51), had his leg broken, was doused in bleach and had the letters 'QIH' carved into his chest before he was dumped on a roadside in Co Cavan in 2019.

Luke O'Reilly (67), from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan; Darren Redmond (26), from Caledon Road and Alan O'Brien (40) of Shelmalier Road, both East Wall, Dublin are charged with false imprisonment and assault causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan, on September 17, 2019.

Another male, 'YZ', who cannot be named for legal reasons, is also charged with the same offences at the same date.

The court heard that 'YZ' had a separate legal matter now disposed of and State Counsel enquired as to whether or not his anonymity should be still in place.

A lawyer told the court 'YZ' has three further upcoming court matters and that his client was "anxious" to retain his anonymity, which Mr Justice Tony Hunt allowed.

The judge said that the May 31 date would allow for nine weeks of the 12-week trial to go ahead "straight through" until the court goes on vacation at the end of July, with the possibility of resuming in September.

The court had previously been told that there are over 50,000 documents involved in the case that needed to be digitally rendered and that there had been issues with disclosure.

In December, the court dismissed a bid to halt the trial over a ruling expected from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on data retention.

However, Mr Justice Hunt said that it was not enough to justify an adjournment.

The judge also found the fact that a Renault Kangoo van involved in the case went on fire while in the possession of gardaí was "immutable" and was also not a sufficient basis to adjourn.

One of the four men has complained to the Garda Ombudsman that DNA was allegedly "planted" on the van that he alleges was deliberately destroyed in a fire so it wouldn't be made available to the defence.

However, the State told the court that the fire began accidentally and that CCTV footage had been disclosed to the defence.

It had been also unsuccessfully argued by defence counsel that the trial should not go on until the Ombudsman's investigation into that matter is completed.

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