Kevin Lunney was told to resign from Quinn Industrial Holdings by attackers who threatened to kill him, broke his leg and used a Stanley blade to "score his chest", the Special Criminal Court has heard. The attackers, the court also heard, were acting "on behalf of another or others".
The trial of the four men who deny falsely imprisoning and causing serious harm to Mr Lunney will hear CCTV, DNA, phone location data and other circumstantial evidence from about 250 witnesses, a barrister told the non-jury court this morning, Wednesday.
Prosecution counsel Sean Guerin SC said the court will hear that one of the four accused was linked to the crime when Mr Lunney told gardai that his attackers had broken off at one point to get bleach. Gardai discovered that one of the accused had bought bleach from a nearby shop at around the relevant time. They then used mobile phone data to link him to a man who the prosecution has said was instructing Mr Lunney's attackers.
Mr Guerin said the case is a complex one but resolves itself into "a few relatively simple propositions."
He said the three-judge, non-jury court will hear evidence that blood with DNA matching Mr Lunney was found in a Renault Kangoo van that Mr Guerin said is linked to three of the accused men by CCTV and phone location data. He said the prosecution will show that the van travelled from Dublin to Cavan on the day of the assault and the previous day.
The fourth man, Luke O'Reilly, is connected to the assault and imprisonment because, counsel said, it occurred on his land and, when the attackers wanted bleach to "conceal their trail" they turned to Mr O'Reilly.
Luke O’Reilly (67), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan; Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3; Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and a fourth accused man aged 40 today (WED) all pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17, 2019. The fourth man cannot be named by order of the court as he is due to face trial on other, unrelated matters.
Mr Guerin said Mr Lunney (51) was "bundled" into the boot of a car close to his home in Co Fermanagh on the evening of September 17. He was driven to a trailer where his attackers told him to resign from QIH and threatened to kill him. They broke his leg with a blunt object and struck him about 20 times before one of his attackers used a Stanley blade to "score" his chest.
The trial is expected to take up to four months and, Mr Guerin said, the court is likely to be asked to rule on whether mobile phone data and CCTV footage compiled by gardai is admissible as evidence.
Mr Guerin told the court that Mr Lunney is still a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), an industrial conglomerate based at Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, near Mr Lunney's home. He said the assault on Mr Lunney was connected to his role as a director of QIH and to ongoing litigation the company was involved in. His attackers, counsel said, were acting "on behalf of another or others."
He added, however, that it is "unnecessary to dwell on the background of the company in any detail because the case does not depend on connecting the accused to any previous dealings with Quinn Industrial Holdings or Mr Lunney or anyone connected to it." He said the case also does not rely on any "personal motive related to that history."
It is the prosecution case that Mr O'Brien, Mr Redmond and the unnamed accused were directly involved in the assault and false imprisonment, Mr Guerin said, while it will be argued that Mr O'Reilly provided material assistance in the planning and execution of the offences.
Another man, Cyril McGuinness, also known as Dublin Jimmy, has since died. Mr Guerin said the attackers acted under the instruction of McGuinness and McGuinness procured the Kangoo van and another car used by the attackers.
Describing the events of September 17, 2019, Mr Guerin said Kevin Lunney was travelling home from work shortly after 6.30pm when he spotted a car on a laneway leading to his home. He stopped and the car reversed into Mr Lunney's car before two men in balaclavas got out, broke into Mr Lunney's car and overpowered him.
As this was happening, another man who seemed older and heavier than the other two, arrived in a black car that Mr Lunney thought was an Audi A4 or A6. The older man put a Stanley knife to Mr Lunney's neck and threatened to kill him. Mr Lunney was then "bundled into the boot" of the black car which was driven away.
At one point Mr Lunney managed to open the boot but couldn't escape because of the speed at which the car was travelling. The car then stopped and the three men came to the boot and one of them struck Mr Lunney in the face. He was pushed back into the boot and the journey continued.
From the boot Mr Lunney became aware that the driver was speaking on a phone with another person who, counsel said, "appeared to be in charge of the criminal operation." Mr Lunney heard the driver say: "Boss, this man resisted and we had to hit him."
The car stopped and Mr Lunney was taken from the boot with his head covered and led to a narrow gap between two containers, one of which was blue. He was led inside the blue container and again threatened with a knife. He was told, Mr Guerin said, that he was there because of QIH and that he had to resign. He was told that other named directors also had to resign and that he had to "stop all these court cases and injunctions". He was further told that he had been watched for six weeks and there were "comments about his children", counsel said.
The talk then turned to DNA, Mr Guerin said, and the man with the Stanley blade started to cut and scrape under Mr Lunney's finger nails, drawing blood. Another of the men said they needed bleach and following a discussion they tied Mr Lunney's wrists with cable times and two of the men left. Mr Lunney heard a car drive away and he was left lying on animal dung on the floor for about 15 minutes.
When the men returned they rubbed bleach into Mr Lunney's hands. They removed his clothes and poured bleach over his body and told him to rub it in with a cloth. He was again told to resign and to tell his fellow directors to resign. His attackers told him they would let him go but he "would have to be roughed up first". He was then struck on the leg with "considerable force with a blunt instrument" causing what Mr Lunney would describe as "unreal pain".
After the first blow one of the men asked if it "snapped", the other said it didn't and Mr Lunney was struck a second time. He was then struck about 20 times as he lay on the ground and told each time: "You are going to resign".
The man with the Stanley knife said, "We have to mark you," and, Mr Guerin said, Mr Lunney's face was cut repeatedly on both sides before the knife was taken to his chest. Mr Guerin said: "His chest was scored with the knife and as this was being done the man said the letters QIH as though he was carving them into his chest." The court will hear medical evidence that Mr Lunney's leg was broken and that he suffered "disfigurement" which Mr Guerin said meets the threshold for a conviction of causing serious harm.
Mr Lunney estimated that he was in the container for about 40 minutes before being put into a red transit van. He was again told to resign and warned that if he made a statement to gardai his attackers would come back. He was driven in the van for 15 to 20 minutes before being taken out and ordered to lie down facing a ditch by the roadside while his attackers drove away. Mr Lunney struggled along the road "with difficulty and in great pain" before passersby stopped and helped him until gardai arrived.
After speaking to Mr Lunney, gardai canvassed shops in the area and discovered that someone had bought a bottle of bleach from Lynch's Gala in Killydoon at around the relevant time. CCTV footage showed, Mr Guerin said, that it was the accused man Luke O'Reilly. When gardai called to Mr O'Reilly's home, Mr O'Reilly said: "I know why you're here. You are here because I bought a bottle of bleach."
Phone records, Mr Guerin said, will show that Mr O'Reilly was in contact with McGuinness before and after buying the bleach. Summarising the phone evidence Mr Guerin said the prosecution case is that during the assault one of the three attackers called McGuinness looking for bleach and McGuinness called Mr O'Reilly, who went to Killydoon. McGuinness then contacted O'Reilly a few minutes later to confirm he had bought the bleach and to instruct him how to pass it on to the attackers, counsel said.
CCTV footage from an apartment complex in Dublin, Mr Guerin said, would show that the unnamed accused and Mr O'Brien left Dublin in a Renault Kangoo van and drove to Cavan and back to Dublin on the day of the assault and on the previous day. Mr Redmond was also with them on the day of the assault, counsel said. The Renault Kangoo was later found at a premises in Duleek, Co Meath and on inspection was found to contain blood with DNA matching Mr Lunney's.
The prosecution does not say that Mr Lunney was in the Kangoo van but that one of his attackers carried the blood on his person, his clothing or an implement.
Mr Guerin described the blood-staining as "powerful evidence to connect the people in that vehicle on September 17 to the offences committed on Mr Lunney."
Further swabs taken from behind the driver's seat, Mr Guerin said, revealed DNA matching Darren Redmond, the third named accused.
The prosecution also intends to rely on evidence that the Kangoo and other vehicles used in the imprisonment and assault were procured by McGuinness
Within weeks of the assault, gardai identified a yard that matched the description given by Mr Lunney of where he was attacked. There they found a blue horse box which contained blood that yielded DNA profiles matching that of Mr Lunney. The yard, Mr Guerin said, was registered to Mr Luke O'Reilly of Kilcogy, Co Cavan.
Mr Guerin said the pattern of movement of the Kangoo van and the presence of blood with DNA matching Mr Lunney suggests the van was used by Mr Lunney's attackers to get from Dublin to Cavan to commit the offences and, the day beforehand, to prepare.
The first three accused, he said, can be connected to the van as it travelled from Dublin by CCTV footage and by call data records in respect of Mr Redmond and the unnamed accused,
Mr O'Reilly, he said, can be connected to the offences because the imprisonment and assault occurred on his land, and when his attackers decided they wanted bleach they contacted McGuinness, who contacted Mr O'Reilly.
He added that the three men who carried out the assault did so under instruction from McGuinness who can be connected to the vehicles used in the preparation of the offences and who acted as a "crucial link" between the attackers and Mr O'Reilly.
Kevin Lunney is expected to give evidence tomorrow, Thursday. Mr Justice Tony Hunt is presiding with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.