Men jailed for attack on Kevin Lunney all expected to appeal

Mobile phone evidence likely to be contested while lengthy sentences have ‘raised eyebrows’ among lawyers

All three men convicted by the Special Criminal Court of abducting and causing serious harm to businessman Kevin Lunney are expected to appeal against their convictions and lengthy sentences.

The admissibility of mobile phone records and CCTV evidence are likely to be significant issues in the appeals.

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 phone data retention are expected to be raised in the appeals.


Legal sources have speculated 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 in 2022 after which the Supreme Court will finally determine the matter.

Issues concerning the jurisdiction of the non-jury court to deal with the Lunney case at all are also expected to feature among the grounds of appeal.

In relation to the effective prison sentences of 15, 25 and 30 years 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.

An experienced criminal lawyer told The Irish Times the length of the sentences “certainly raised eyebrows” among lawyers.

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 last month 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 (QIH) 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.

This week, the SCC imposed a 30 year sentence on YZ, whom it described as the “ringleader” of the attack; a 25 year sentence on O’Brien and an 18 year sentence, with the last three years suspended, on Redmond.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said those who participated in such "calculated savagery" can expect severe sentences.

The three have 28 days from the sentencing decision to lodge appeals and all are expected to do so.

The SCC’s rulings in favour of admitting phone records, CCTV evidence, as well as DNA material obtained from a Kangoo van which the court ultimately held was connected to the crimes, are all likely to be disputed.

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 had 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 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.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times