All three men convicted by the Special Criminal Court of abducting and causing serious harm to businessman Kevin Lunney are appealing against their convictions and lengthy sentences.
The notices of appeal have been filed within the 28 day period provided by law and the grounds of appeal are expected to be lodged within days.
A man who, for legal reasons, may only be identified as YZ; Alan O'Brien (40), Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin and Darren Redmond (27), of Caledon Road, East Wall, were found guilty by the non-jury Special Criminal Court last November of falsely imprisoning and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan, on September 17th, 2019.
Mr Lunney told the trial that after another vehicle rammed his car near his home, he was forced into the boot of a black Audi and driven to a container where he was threatened and told he must resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings and end litigation in which he was involved on both sides of the border. His shin was broken with a wooden plank, his face was cut and the letters QIH were scored into his chest with a Stanley knife. He was stripped to his boxer shorts and doused in bleach before being dumped on a country lane that night where he was discovered by a tractor driver.
During the trial, the prosecution argued the attack on Mr Lunney was co-ordinated by a well-known criminal, Cyril McGuinness, who died two years ago.
The SCC imposed effective sentences of 30 years on YZ, whom it described as the “ringleader” of the attack, 25 years on O’Brien and 15 years on Redmond.
All three men had 28 days within which to file notices of appeal and have done so.
The admissibility of mobile phone records and CCTV evidence are expected to be core issues in the appeals.
Issues concerning the jurisdiction of the SCC to deal with the men’s cases at all are also expected to feature among the grounds of appeal.
The SCC had refused a defence application to adjourn the men's trial pending judgments by the European Court of Justice and the Supreme Court on the State's appeal over convicted murderer Graham Dwyer's successful challenge to a 2011 phone data retention law.
While gardaí had accessed the relevant phone records of the three using ordinary warrants, issues about the legality of the data retention are expected to be raised in the appeals.
The appellants may seek to have the appeal hearing deferred pending the final decision on the State’s appeal in the Dwyer data retention case. The ECJ decision is expected early this year after which the Supreme Court will finally determine the matter.
In relation to the sentences imposed, lawyers for all three are likely to argue those terms are not consistent with applicable case law and rulings of the Court of Appeal.
The SCC’s rulings in favour of admitting phone records, CCTV evidence, as well as DNA material obtained from a Kangoo van, which the SCC ultimately held was connected to the crimes, are all likely to be disputed in the appeal.
The SCC had said in its main judgment it was not relying on the phone data in its decision on the guilt of the men and it relied on other circumstantial evidence, including CCTV evidence, and DNA evidence. It said the phone data supported its conclusions but the data did not make a difference between the court being satisfied beyond reasonable doubt and not being so satisfied.
The appeal is also expected to consider whether the inferences adverse to all three accused which the SCC drew from the evidence accorded with the rules of evidence and the law.