03 Oct 2022

Lunney case hears criminals won't need balaclavas if defence lawyers are right

Ex-lovers row over horse worth an estimated €4m comes before High Court

No criminal would ever again need to wear a balaclava if prosecutors were prevented from using CCTV footage in court, a barrister has told the Special Criminal Court trial of four men accused of abducting and assaulting Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney.

Sean Guerin SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said lawyers for the accused were asking the court to rule out CCTV evidence that was lawfully obtained by gardai investigating a serious crime. The footage, counsel said, was the fruit of specific lines of inquiry arising from findings in the investigation. The suggestion the footage should be excluded on privacy grounds, he said, is "manifestly contrary to the maintenance of social order". Mr Guerin said the public interest is served by the use of CCTV in the investigation of serious crime.

Mr Guerin also dismissed as "fanciful" and "preposterous" a defence suggestion that the CCTV footage could have been edited or interfered with prior to gardai accessing it. He said counsel for the defence is suggesting that there is a sub-community of business owners and managers across the country, from Dublin to Cavan, with editing skills that would be "the envy of every Hollywood studio" who are inserting footage of a Renault Kangoo van with a distinctive red lightning bolt on the side at precisely the times when the prosecution alleges that particular van was used in the abduction of Mr Lunney.

He added: "If that were not remarkable enough, the defence case is that there is another sub-community of similarly talented editors who occupy residential and commercial premises between Fermanagh and Cavan, whose particular peccadillo is not to insert images of a Kangoo van, but to insert a black Audi or similar car with distinctive seven spoke alloys."

One of those "talented editors," Mr Guerin said, had inserted footage of just such a car passing the Lakeland's Dairy premises, "at precisely the time when Kevin Lunney, battered and bruised in the boot" of a car he had identified as an Audi, caught a glimpse of a Lakeland's Dairy sign.

If the court wanted an example of the difference between a reasonable versus a fanciful doubt, Mr Guerin said the defence in this case has provided it. It is, he said, a preposterous suggestion, not based on evidence or an analysis of anything. He added: "It is the merest, fanciful, frivolous possibility." 

A 40-year-old man known as YZ, Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and Luke O’Reilly (67), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan have all pleaded not  guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17, 2019.

Mr Lunney has told the court that he was bundled into the boot of a car near his home and driven to a container where he was threatened and told to resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings. His abductors cut him with a Stanley knife, stripped him to his boxer shorts, doused him in bleach, broke his leg with two blows of a wooden bat, beat him on the ground, cut his face and scored the letters QIH into his chest. They left him bloodied, beaten and shivering on a country road at Drumcoghill in Co Cavan where he was discovered by a man driving a tractor.

Lawyers for the unnamed man and Alan O'Brien have asked the court to rule the CCTV evidence as inadmissible. They argued that gardai are using CCTV footage from private operators to conduct mass surveillance of the population which, they said, is a breach of constitutional and privacy rights and data protection regulations.
Mr Guerin will continue his submissions tomorrow in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.

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