Three men guilty, one acquitted, of abducting and causing serious harm to Kevin Lunney

Mr Lunney thanks ‘community, countless friends and strangers’ for prayers and well wishes

The Special Criminal Court convicted Alan O’Brien (40, left) and Darren Redmond (27, right)

The Special Criminal Court convicted Alan O’Brien (40, left) and Darren Redmond (27, right)

 

Businessman Kevin Lunney has paid tribute to police officers on both sides of the border for their “diligence, time and effort” in the investigation into his abduction and torture.

The Special Criminal Court has found three men guilty of abducting and intentionally causing serious harm to businessman Kevin Lunney just over two years ago. A fourth man was acquitted.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding over the three judge, non-jury, court, gave its verdicts in a lengthy judgment on Monday which took almost four hours to read.

Alan O’Brien (40) and Darren Redmond (27) both from East Wall in Dublin; Luke O’Reilly (68) from Kilcogy, Co Cavan; and a 40-year-old man, who may only be identified as YZ, had all denied charges of falsely imprisoning and intentionally causing serious harm to 51-year-old Mr Lunney.

On Monday, the court convicted Mr O’Brien, Mr Redmond and YZ of false imprisonment and intentional causing of serious harm to Mr Lunney.

Mr O’Reilly was acquitted. He wept as his acquittal was read out in court.

Luke O’Reilly (68) was acquitted by the Special Criminal Court
Luke O’Reilly (68) was acquitted by the Special Criminal Court

The three convicted men will be sentenced on November 22nd.

Mr Lunney was in court on Monday to hear the judge read out the verdict.

He issued a statement after the court case concluded.

“On behalf of myself and my family I want to thank the gardaí, 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,” he said.a

“I want to also express my sincere gratitude to the wider community for their exceptional level of assistance to the authorities throughout the investigation.”

His employer, Mannok also issued a statement following the verdicts in the trial and said it hopes it will allow Mr Lunney and all directors run the business “free from the threat of violence or intimidation”.

“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 Síochána 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.”

Outside court, Chief Supt Alan McGovern, from the Cavan-Monaghan Garda Division, said he wished to acknowledge the verdict and to thank the investigation team for their diligence and hard work.

“I want to highlight the bravery of Mr Lunney and his family throughout the trial,” he said.

He said he wanted to acknowledge the co-operation of the PSNI and members of the community in the Cavan area with the Garda investigation.

“There are a number of other ongoing investigations and I would appeal to members of the public to continue to support these investigations and inquiries,” the Chief Supt added.

The trial heard Mr Lunney, an executive at Quinn Industrial Holdings, was on September 17th, 2019, bundled into the boot of an Audi car and driven to a horse trailer. His leg was broken, he was doused in bleach and had the letters QIH carved into his chest.

His attackers told him repeatedly to resign as a director of the company before dumping him on a roadside in Co Cavan.

During the trial, which began in June and ran for 40 days, the prosecution alleged the attack was co-ordinated by a convicted criminal, Cyril McGuinness, known as Dublin Jimmy, who died in November 2019.

In its judgment, the court found the attack was organised and supervised by Mr McGuinness.

It said it was “almost certain he did not act alone” and that there may well be others involved as well as the “three front line operatives”.

It was “almost certain there were spotters and others along the route, in the nature of things, there will be knowns and unknowns”, it said.

The court was satisfied the evidence established beyond reasonable doubt that YZ was involved in the attack and had inflicted serious injuries on Mr Lunney.

Among various findings, it was satisfied YZ was in the area of the crime on September 16th and 17th 2019, was in phone contact with Mr McGuinness, who was a friend of YZ, at relevant times and was the driver of the Audi and of a support van which it was satisfied was also involved in the crime.

Based on those and other findings, it found YZ guilty of the charges of false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney.

It was also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, for reasons including CCTV evidence concerning the movements of the support van and his failure to mention certain facts, that Alan O’Brien was involved in the crime and was guilty of the same charges.

In relation to Darren Redmond, the court was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, based on CCTV, DNA and other evidence, he was an “active” participant in the crimes and was guilty of the charges preferred.

Dealing with Mr O’Reilly, the court did not accept Mr O’Reilly had no knowledge that Mr McGuinness was engaged in “something untoward” on September 17th .

It accepted the prosecution suggestion Mr O’Reilly provided some form of local assistance in that regard.

It did not accept Mr O’Reilly gave a full and truthful account of his actions and movements, including that he had to purchase bleach for some domestic emergency. His account of his movements was also inconsistent with phone and CCTV evidence.

It noted there was some support in the evidence for the claim Mr O’Reilly was kept segregated from the other three co-accused.

The court was satisfied Mr O’Reilly travelled north and effected the transfer of the bleach to YZ but said there was reasonable doubt whether he knew exactly what was going on.

Based on those and other findings, it acquitted Mr O’Reilly of the charges of false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney.

After the verdict, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the safety of Mr Lunney and his family and communities on the border was “most paramount”.

“Everything will be done to make sure he [Mr Lunney] is protected, his family is protected and that any threats to communities in the future will be dealt with in the most severe way,” she said.

Asked if the case outcome was a vindication of the Special Criminal Court, which has been criticised as it is a non-jury court, Ms McEntee said that court existed for cases where “potential normal routes can’t be gone through”.

”I fully support the work of the Special Criminal Court and it’s something I think we need to see continued,” she said.