Kevin Lunney abduction: Three men found guilty over false imprisonment and assault of businessman
Three men have been found guilty in connection with kidnap and assault of Quinn Industrial Holdings executive Kevin Lunney, while a fourth man has been acquitted.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt delivered the verdicts in a lengthy judgement at the non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin on Monday.
Alan O’Brien, 40, of East Wall in Dublin, and Darren Redmond, 27, also from East Wall, were found guilty on the same charges at the hearing.
A third man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also found guilty of falsely imprisoning and assaulting the businessman. The 40-year-old was referred to in court as “YZ”.
The three men will be sentenced on November 22.
Mr Lunney was in court for the verdicts and later thanked the authorities for their efforts in progressing the investigation.
A fourth man, 68-year-old Luke O’Reilly, from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy in Co Cavan, was found not guilty.
The four men had denied abducting and assaulting Mr Lunney.
Mr Lunney was kidnapped close to his home in Co Fermanagh on the evening of September 17 2019.
The businessman had his leg broken, was doused in bleach and the letters QIH were carved into his chest before he was dumped on a roadside in Co Cavan.
In court on Monday, Mr O’Reilly wept and was hugged by family members as he was acquitted of all charges.
The court said there was reasonable doubt about whether he knew what was planned.
The court said that Mr O’Reilly did not have knowledge of the “precise objective” of the attack.
In its judgment, the court found that the attack was organised and supervised by the convicted criminal the late Cyril McGuinness, and that it was “almost certain he did not act alone” and may have involved others.
The court said that given the number of vehicles involved in the attack, there was almost certainly spotters and other drivers in the relevant areas and routes.
Mr O’Reilly had been in contact with McGuinness on the night of attack. In its judgment, the court rejected a submission that Mr O’Reilly had no knowledge McGuinness was engaged in something “untoward”.
Mr O’Reilly purchased bleach on the evening of the attack and the court said that while he may not have known the specific reason he was delivering the bleach on behalf of McGuinness, the evidence suggested Mr O’Reilly knew something was “afoot”.
The court said it was possible Mr O’Reilly gave “YZ” the bleach without acquiring knowledge of what was going on.
During the the trial, which ran for 40 days in the summer, the court heard that Mr Lunney was bundled into the boot of a car close to his home in Co Fermanagh and driven across the border.
Mr Lunney’s attackers demanded that he resign as a director of QIH.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Hunt rejected suggestions that Mr Lunney’s blood was later planted in the van used to take him from the scene where he was tortured.
He said there was “no evidence” it was planted and it would have required a person to have had access to Mr Lunney’s blood and said that explanation was “far fetched”.
The Renault Kangoo van used in the attack was bought in England by McGuinness and brought to Ireland, the court said.
Mr Justice Hunt said the court was satisfied the evidence established that YZ was involved in the attack.
The judge said he was also satisfied the man was the driver of the Audi that was used to take Mr Lunney to an isolated farm where he was tied up and assaulted.
He said that YZ’s phone was active at important points of the evening of the attack and that he was in the area on September 16-17.
The court said it was their view that YZ was sufficiently involved in the crime and that there was “no doubt” he drove the van to and from Cavan and he was responsible for inflicting the most serious injuries.
The man’s phone data is also consistent with the movement of the van in the areas at that time.
The court said that YZ contacted McGuinness throughout the journey which was “not surprising as the purpose of this journey was already clear”.
Turning to O’Brien, the court said he was involved in the crime and this was supported by CCTV footage showing movements of the van, which he was travelling in.
In Redmond’s case, the court said it was also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that, based on DNA, CCTV and other evidence that he was involved in the crime.
Redmond’s DNA was discovered in a blood stain in the Kangoo van.
The court rejected the suggestion that his DNA was there by secondary transfer.
The court also said that Redmond left Dublin by arrangement to play some part in the crime and that there was an “unequivocal pattern” of his involvement in the criminal enterprise.
Concluding his judgment, Mr Justice Hunt said Mr O’Reilly’s involvement in the case had come to an end, adding that “every day is a school day”.
In a statement, Mr Lunney said: “On behalf of myself and my family I want to thank the gardai, PSNI, DPP and the Justices of the Special Criminal Court for their diligence, time and effort in bringing the investigation and trial to this point.
“I also want to thank all those who supported my family at the time of and since the attack, most especially my colleagues at Mannok, the local community and the countless friends and strangers for their prayers and well wishes.
“I want to also express my sincere gratitude to the wider community for their exceptional level of assistance to the authorities throughout the investigation.”
Outside court chief superintendent Alan McGovern, of the Cavan and Monaghan Division, praised Mr Lunney for his “resilience and bravery”.
“I want to highlight the bravery of Mr Lunney and his family throughout the trial,” he added.
The company formerly known as Quinn Industrial Holdings has welcomed the convictions of three men involved in the abduction and torture of Kevin Lunney.
Now rebranded as Mannok, the firm said in a statement that it hoped it could now operate “free from the threat of violence or intimidation”.
The statement said: “Mannok welcomes today’s verdict in respect of those directly involved in the abduction and torture of our colleague Kevin Lunney.
“These convictions are the result of a detailed joint cross-border investigation by the Garda Siochana and PSNI and we are very grateful to them for their commitment, and to the large number of people in the local community who assisted the authorities.
“We would also like to thank the presiding judges for their detailed consideration of the case and note today’s commentary in respect of the likely involvement of other parties in this terrible act.
“We trust the ongoing investigation into the identity of those who procured this terrible act will yield results and allow Kevin and all of our directors and staff to get on with the job of continuing to run and grow this vital, community-based business free from the threat of violence or intimidation.”