New Garda-PSNI team to investigate gang targeting Kevin Lunney, Quinn executives

First joint investigation team of its kind, under Eurojust, for cross-border probe

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton PSNI speak to the media regarding the investigation of the abduction of Kevin Lunney at Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park on Friday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton PSNI speak to the media regarding the investigation of the abduction of Kevin Lunney at Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park on Friday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

 

The Garda and PSNI have established the first joint investigation team of its kind to investigate the crime gang from Dublin and the Border region suspected of abducting and torturing Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) executive Kevin Lunney.

The attack on the 50-year-old father of five marked a major escalation in a campaign of intimidation and violence directed at the executive team at QIH since they took control of the company with US investment five years ago.

Sean Quinn, who once owned the businesses but lost them when his empire collapsed, has repeatedly said the people carrying out the attacks were not acting in his name and he has condemned the violence.

Mr Lunney was left for dead on a Co Cavan roadside in mid-September after a 2½ hour ordeal in which he was tortured in a horsebox after he was abducted from his car in Co Fermanagh as he drove home.

His abductors demanded he resign from the business, along with the rest of the executive team. And last week fresh threats were made in a statement released to the Irish News, saying Mr Lunney could have been killed and that the executives faced a “final solution” unless they resigned.

Last week’s fresh threats put the Garda and PSNI under renewed extreme pressure to catch those responsible. On Friday, searches targeting the gang were carried out in the Republic, North and in England.

Suspected heart attack

During the search in England, in Derbyshire, the suspected leader of the gang attacking the QIH executives, Cyril McGuinness, died of a suspected heart attack.

However, despite his death in a safe house where he was hiding from the Garda and PSNI, the investigation into the violence against the QIH executives was continuing. Garda sources said it was likely efforts would also continue to attack the QIH executive team.

On Friday, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris announced the Garda and PSNI had “signed off on a joint investigation team” overseen by Eurojust. It is the first such joint investigation team the Garda and PSNI has entered into together.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan welcomed the decision, adding it had been made possible by legislation introduced earlier this year making it possible for the Garda to join such teams.

“I am confident that gardaí and their partners in the PSNI will use the opportunities presented by this team to bring to justice those involved in these heinous attacks,” he said.

In a statement on Friday evening, QIH welcomed the joint investigative effort by the Garda, the PSNI and Derbyshire Constabulary.

“The searches mark an important milestone in bringing those involved in attacks on QIH staff to justice,” the company said.

“We encourage anyone with information to make contact with the gardaí or PSNI on a confidential basis.”

‘Increased co-operation’

Mr Harris said the joint investigation team allows for “increased co-operation (between the Garda and PSNI) plus the co-operation of the prosecution authorities in the investigation into the attacks on Quinn Industrial Holdings”.

“These have obviously been the cause of public concern lately,”he said.

“We want to be seen to act in a strong and robust way, to show that there’s no room for criminality anywhere on the island of Ireland and that as police services we are co-operating in the strongest fashion possible to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Mr Harris made the announcement at Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, alongside PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton; Mr Harris in his Garda uniform and Mr Hamilton in plain clothes.

The PSNI’s Mr Hamilton said while there had been “a lot of questions” of late about the level of co-operation between the Garda and PSNI, Friday’s raids and the launch of the joint investigation team were significant developments.

“(Criminals) will have no hiding place anywhere on the island, North or south or any other part of the UK. We are determined to track them down,” he said.

Eurojust is staffed by representatives from EU member states and aims to facilitate and enhance international co-operation in the investigation of cross-border crime.

It has been strengthened to be more proactive as international gangs have taken advantage of the opening up of the EU. If national police forces are working together in a joint investigation team co-ordinated by Eurojust, the admissibility in one member state of evidence found in another is easier.

As well as drug trafficking, Eurojust has assisted in co-operation between national policing forces in the investigation of gun smuggling, human trafficking and prostitution, cyber crime, international terrorism and money laundering.