‘I was in agony’: Kevin Lunney tells of prolonged torture ordeal

Quinn Industrial Holdings executive reveals to BBC extent of cruelty he faced

Kevin Lunney: ‘I gave up a few times but then came back again, thought about the kids and thought about Bronagh.’ Photograph: BBC Spotlight

Kevin Lunney: ‘I gave up a few times but then came back again, thought about the kids and thought about Bronagh.’ Photograph: BBC Spotlight

 

Kevin Lunney, senior executive with Quinn Industrial Holdings, has described how when he was found on a Border road branded and beaten and with knife wounds all over his body, his cuts covered in bleach, the tractor driver who discovered him exclaimed, “What in God’s earth is going on here?”

Little wonder the man who came to his rescue was shocked, considering the ordeal of calculated brutality Mr Lunney had been subjected to before he was dumped almost naked on a lonely country road, where he thought he was “going to die”, on September 17th.

Mr Lunney, on BBC’s Spotlight programme on Tuesday night, told of how a lovely evening when he was returning from work to his wife, Bronagh, and six children at their home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, turned to one of absolute horror when he was abducted by a criminal gang.

As he drove his Jeep up his laneway, thinking maybe it was time for a cutting of the lawn, he was surprised to see a white car parked ahead.

“The next thing I was aware of was that they put the car into reverse at high speed . . . It was reversing towards me,” he said.

The car smashed into his and, while he had locked his Jeep and was desperately trying to locate his mobile phone to call for help, the gang smashed the side windows of his vehicle and dragged him outside.

One of the gang put a Stanley knife to his neck and said, “Get into that. If you don’t get into that we are going to kill you.”

He was bundled into the boot of a black Audi while the white car and Mr Lunney’s Jeep were burned. Initially his brother Tony, who arrived on the scene, thought Mr Lunney was inside the burning car.

In the horsebox, his hands were tied behind his back and a bag bound tightly over his head

As the car sped away, Mr Lunney, with his engineering skills, managed to open the boot. He recalled, “I put one foot out on the road but I noticed as I put one foot to the road that it ripped the sole off my shoe. I knew that, Jesus, if I hit that with my head or with my arm it is going to rip it in bits. So I decided that maybe it is not a good idea.”

The boss

When the car did eventually slow down, he decided to jump, not realising that a third member of the gang had taken the back seats down and crawled into the boot. As he tried to escape he caught Mr Lunney by the foot. He was then forced back into the car, where he was taken away to a blue horsebox.

During that journey he remembered hearing one of the men in the car making a phone call and saying, “Boss, this man has resisted and we hit him”. Mr Lunney said he did not know whom the man was reporting to.

This sign on the outskirts of Ballyconnell, Co Cavan a few hundred feet from the border with Co Fermanagh was removed by gardaí. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan
This sign on the outskirts of Ballyconnell, Co Cavan a few hundred feet from the border with Co Fermanagh was removed by gardaí. File photograph: Lorraine Teevan

He said he believed the men were acting on specific orders to torture him.

In the horsebox, his hands were tied behind his back and a bag bound tightly over his head. One of the gang, referring to Quinn Industrial Holdings as “QIH”, told him he was going to resign from the company.

“I said, ‘Yes, if that is what you want me to do,’ ” said Mr Lunney.

One of the gang was sent to get bleach, and the torture began with one of the men using a Stanley knife on his fingers. At first he thought they would cut his fingers off, but instead they ran the sharp blade “under each nail quite hard and deep, so each of them were bleeding a bit, deep enough that it was sore and painful”.

I roared. The pain was awful. And then he said to the other guy who was holding the torch, ‘Did that snap?' And the guy said ‘No’

“They poured the bleach over my hands and that was very, very sore,” he said. They then started stripping off his clothes, down to his boxer shorts, with the knife, which caused cuts to his hands and legs, and arms.

“They then poured the bleach over me. They had some sort of rag, which was covered in bleach. They were rubbing me up and down, back and front. Because of the cuts that were there from the Stanley knife, it was excruciating.”

One of the men then asked, “Have you done his face?” They then squirted bleach into his face and eyes, causing him to almost pass out.

He recalled one of the men saying a number of times, “We know you; we’ve been watching you; we’ve seen you with your little daughter with the GAA top. And you are going to do what we say.”

Leg breaks

The gang again insisted that he and fellow directors Liam McCaffrey, Tony Lunney and Dara O’Reilly must resign, which he said would happen. One of the men said, “That’s fine”, but then added: “We are going to have to rough you up.”

One of them broke his leg with a baseball bat or part of a fence, while another man shone a torch on his leg. “I heard it breaking. I roared. The pain was awful. And then he said to the other guy who was holding the torch, ‘Did that snap?” And the guy said ‘No’.

He then broke his leg again close to the first break. “It was a hundred times worse the second time.”

“As soon as he finished that, he said, ‘Now we have to mark you’. I did not know what that meant. He took the Stanley and he took five or six scrapes down the side of the face.”

I prayed a lot then. I was conscious I was starting to shiver. I was in agony

“Just after he had done that he said, ‘Just so you remember why you are here’ – he put ‘QIH’ across my chest with the Stanley knife.”

He was then driven away and dumped on a road close to the Border. He was warned he would be shot if he spoke to the Garda.

Mr Lunney described how, as he was unable to walk because of his broken right leg and unusable right arm, he had to push himself along the road “inch by inch” to get to a crossroads. But when he eventually made it to what he hoped was a busier road, there was no traffic.

In agony

He felt he would die on the road. “I prayed a lot then. I was conscious I was starting to shiver. I was in agony. Then I was just able to see down the main road the lights of a house maybe 200m. I said: I have to try to get to that. So I pushed myself along. I don’t know how far I got, but knew I had to get to it. I was stopping a few times because I just could not get any further – I was thinking about the kids and Bronagh, everything. I was thinking, I hope I can make this. But I kept going and I kept pushing.

“I almost gave up. I gave up a few times but then came back again, thought about the kids and thought about Bronagh,” he added.

It was then the tractor driver came to his aid. “With the help of God, he stopped,” said Mr Lunney.

When the emergency services finally arrived, he tried to ring Bronagh but could not remember her mobile number. Eventually he got through on the house landline. He told interviewer Jim Fitzpatrick of his relief that he could speak to his wife. “Oh, it was just everything . . . I was able to tell her, ‘I am okay, they will take me to the hospital’.”