The physical scars and mental trauma of the kidnap and assault on businessman Kevin Lunney will remain with him and his family for the rest of their lives, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
Mr Lunney wrote a victim impact statement for the court which was read out by Detective Garda Linda Harkin at a sentencing hearing this morning for the three men convicted of abducting and torturing Mr Lunney. Mr Lunney wrote that he thinks every day of the effect the ordeal has on his wife and children, saying: "The anguish they have had to endure is a greater torment to me than the physical pain of the attack." He said that he was glad that, following the verdict, he and his family had been able to "put it out of our immediate focus" but added that "events like this can never be erased and we will need to find continuing strength and solace in the support and comfort of many good people in the times ahead."
Sean Guerin SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said the court should set a pre-mitigation sentence for the three men of between 15 years and life imprisonment. He said aggravating factors included the "severity and viciousness" of the assault, the evidence that it was planned and included surveillance of Mr Lunney who was abducted from outside his home, driven to an isolated location, threatened, assaulted and warned that there would be further violence if he reported what happened.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding in the tree-judge, non-jury court, heard pleas by lawyers for the three men and said the court will pass sentence on December 20.
In his statement Mr Lunney said the campaign of intimidation against Quinn Industrial Holdings, of which he is a director, "was intensely difficult for those directly targeted and a cause of much apprehension and fear in the wider community."
Conversely, he said, the "raw emotion and solidarity" from co-workers, friends and the community had been "one of the most affirming and humbling experiences of my life."
Addressing the men convicted of assaulting him, he said: "I don't know the reason why the defendants decided to do what they did. I don't know them or they me, and I don't know whether their absence of any personal agenda diminishes or aggravates what they have done." On a human level, he said he was saddened that they have ruined their own lives. He added: "I sympathise with their families in the anguish they are enduring today. Neither can I fathom the intent or reasoning that encouraged and enticed them to commit this crime. I trust that those involved now realise that there will never be a place in our community for violence, or any other form of intimidation."
In his testimony earlier this year, Mr Lunney said that he was bundled into the boot of an Audi near his home and driven to a container where he was threatened and told to resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings and to put a stop to litigation with which he was involved north and south of the border. His attackers 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 with a Stanley knife. 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.
Following a trial at the Special Criminal Court Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and a man known as YZ, were convicted of false imprisonment and intentionally causing harm to Mr Lunney at a yard at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17, 2019.
Detective Superintendent James O'Leary today told the court that YZ has 180 previous convictions including one for impeding the apprehension or prosecution of a person who had committed a murder in 2009. He received a six-year sentence at the Central Criminal Court for that offence. The other offences related to road traffic matters and theft and were dealt with at District Court level.
Alan O'Brien, who is also known as Alan Rooney, has 40 previous convictions including one for robbing €12,000 from an elderly gentleman in Virginia, Co Cavan for which he received a fully suspended four-year sentence. Darren Redmond has two previous convictions, one for possession of a knife and one for criminal damage. None of the three had any "appreciable employment history", Supt O'Leary said.
The superintendent agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, for YZ, that the purpose of the offences against Mr Lunney was to "remove people who were legitimately in control of Quinn Industrial Holdings, making vacancies for other people."
YZ, the superintendent agreed, was not going to benefit from that but was the "muscle" hired to "do the dirty work".
The court also made an order that YZ, whose identity has been protected by a court order, can be named from midnight on December 13 next. YZ is due before the Circuit Court on unrelated matters and Mr Justice Hunt said his lawyers can use the time to apply to that court for a new order preventing him from being named.
Giollaiosa O'Lideadha SC, for Alan O'Brien, said his client does not accept the verdict against him and therefore he makes no plea to the court that his client has shown remorse. He cited previous court rulings and suggested that the appropriate pre-mitigation sentence should be seven to nine years imprisonment.
Mr O'Higgins detailed YZ's difficult upbringing and presented a psychological report that described the impact his childhood experiences, including abuse at a children's institution, have had on him. His partner of 23 years had written to the court a letter which Mr O'Higgins said showed "a degree of insight into his early childhood difficulties and acknowledges that while he may not be perfect, he has been invaluable within the family and has given it a structure that was denied to him in his own upbringing."
Counsel said that the main benefit of the offences was not going to accrue to his client and added: "He was the muscle, he has the dirty hands, did the dirty work and must pay for those dirty hands with the appropriate level of punishment." He said it was a "difficult case" and the humanity in the statement by Mr Lunney was evident. But, he added, sentencing "also involves an element of humanity".
Michael Bowman SC, for Darren Redmond, said his client has no relevant previous convictions, has completed various courses and has shown "enterprise", having worked as a labourer on a building site. He was not on the "garda radar" prior to these offences, Mr Bowman said, and was "very much on the periphery" in the offences against Mr Lunney. He has also been touched by tragedy by the deaths of a number of family members in recent years and during the course of the trial, counsel said. Mr Bowman asked the court to consider structuring Redmond's sentence to allow for rehabilitation.
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