Challenge to admissibility of mobile phone evidence in Lunney case

Detective says she was aware method of securing data had changed

Lawyers defending four men accused of falsely imprisoning and causing serious harm to Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) Director Kevin Lunney, are challenging the admissibility of mobile phone evidence that the prosecution has said forms part of its case.

Gardaí have told the three-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court that they obtained phone data from various phones using warrants issued from district courts under section 10 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

Detective Garda Sharon Walsh told Michael O'Higgins SC, for one of the accused, that following a judgement relating to the conviction of murderer Graham Dwyer, An Garda Síochána could no longer apply for phone data through Security and Intelligence, which was previously the norm.

Dwyer was convicted in 2015 of the murder of 36-year-old childcare worker Elaine O’Hara in August 2012. He has challenged the legality of the collection of mobile phone data that was used in his prosecution.


The detective said this was the first time she used a warrant to obtain phone data records but she couldn’t remember where she first read that the old system could no longer be used.

The witness agreed that part of her statement relating to the Graham Dwyer decision contained “formalised wording” which she said she may have seen on another warrant in the Garda incident room.

Mr O’Higgins asked the detective if it was a “coincidence” that the formalised wording appeared in a number of statements made by other gardaí.

Det Walsh said she saw the wording in a document in the Garda incident room and when asked if the wording was ever discussed she said: “I’ve never sat down in a meeting but all along I was aware of the Graham Dwyer judgement and that the only option was to apply under section 10 of the Criminal Justice Act. Prior to that all applications were made through Security and Intelligence.”

Sgt Lisa Murray told Michael Bowman SC, for Darren Redmond, that she doesn't remember if she wrote down the wording prior to making her statement.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, asked why the wording was used at all. “Why not just say there was a perceived problem with Graham Dwyer? One line.”

The judge asked Mr Bowman if “something turns on this”. Mr Bowman replied: “Ultimately, there may be.”

Sgt Murray also told Mr Bowman that one piece of information on the warrant was incorrect but was not corrected because of an “oversight”.

The warrant stated that a number connected to Mr Redmond was from an unregistered mobile phone whereas Sgt Murray was aware that the phone was registered to Mr Redmond.

She agreed that she and other gardaí knew the information was incorrect. She said it should have been corrected and she couldn’t say why it wasn’t.

Alan O'Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Luke O'Reilly (67), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan and a 40-year-old man who cannot be named by order of the court, 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.

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 from QIH.

His abductors then 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 at Drumcoghill in Co Cavan where he was discovered by a man driving a tractor.