Accused in Lunney case visited garda station before ‘preparatory’ trip to Cavan

Detective Garda explains how he found CCTV footage of YZ and ‘tracked him from there’

A man accused of assaulting Kevin Lunney allegedly visited a garda station before making a ‘preparatory’ journey to Cavan a day before the businessman  was abducted, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

A man accused of assaulting Kevin Lunney allegedly visited a garda station before making a ‘preparatory’ journey to Cavan a day before the businessman was abducted, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

 

One of the men accused of assaulting Kevin Lunney allegedly visited a garda station before making what the State argues was a “preparatory” journey to Cavan a day before the Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director was abducted, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The court heard that gardaí tracked the man from Store Street Garda station and this led them to a Renault Kangoo van, which the prosecution alleges was used to bring some of the accused men from Dublin to Cavan and back on the day of the abduction and the previous day.

Seán Guerin SC, for the prosecution, has said it is the State’s case that the previous day’s journey was for “preparatory purposes”. Lawyers for the accused are challenging the admissibility of CCTV evidence.

A 40-year-old man known as YZ; Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3; Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3; and Luke O’Reilly (67), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan have all pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17th, 2019.

Det Garda Alan Jones told Mr Guerin that he became aware that YZ had visited Store Street station in the early afternoon of September 16th, 2019. He said he found CCTV footage of YZ at the station and “tracked him from there”.

Footage from various locations led him to a red Volkswagen with a registration ending in 782 that went to the Island Quay apartments in Dublin 3, he said. A male got out, he said, and walked in the direction of the car park before a Renault Kangoo van passed and flashed its lights.

“Then it was a question of tracking the Kangoo van,” he said.

Transit van

Det Garda Jones also tracked the movements of the van the following day, which was when the abduction and assault occured. He also discovered footage of an Audi and two short clips of a Ford Transit van after hearing that Mr Lunney had described being put into the boot of an Audi and later being put in the back of a Ford Transit. He sought footage from camera systems at motorway toll booths, garages and business and residential premises in various locations.

Following requests from the investigation team, Det Garda Jones also tracked the movements of the Kangoo on October 23rd, 2019 and downloaded footage of people buying mobile phone credit at various times for phones allegedly linked to the offences.

He said that when canvassing for CCTV footage he told homeowners and business owners it was required for a criminal investigation. In some cases, he said, he referred the CCTV operators to section 41b of the Data Protection Act, which allows gardaí investigating criminal offences to access CCTV footage.

Under cross examination, Det Garda Jones told Michael O’Higgins SC, defending YZ, that he has been involved in gathering CCTV for about six years.

He said he is aware “in broad terms” of the provisions under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 which restrict where and in what circumstances gardaí can place their own CCTV cameras.

He agreed that gardaí are not allowed to “put cameras on every street corner but are reliant on members of the public” who make their footage available. He agreed that CCTV footage has “revolutionised how cases are prosecuted”.

The garda also said he was aware that prior to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, anyone operating a CCTV system was required to register.

Unlawfully generated material

Det Garda Jones said he was not aware of any discussion in the force about the possibility that material that might have been unlawfully generated was being used.

The witness agreed with Giollaiosa O’Lideadha SC, for Alan O’Brien, that in every case the CCTV operators allowed him to access the system and “take what you want”.

He agreed that the conditions under which private operators use CCTV had not been addressed in garda training and he was not in a position to ask operators whether they were complying with the law.

Mr Lunney has told the court that he was bundled into the boot of a car near his home and driven to a container where he was threatened and told to resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings. His abductors cut him with a Stanley knife, stripped him to his boxer shorts, doused him in bleach, broke his leg with two blows of a wooden bat, beat him on the ground, cut his face and scored the letters QIH into his chest. They left him bloodied, beaten and shivering on a country road, where he was discovered by a man driving a tractor.

The trial continues.