One week on from the discovery of millionaire property developer Kevin Michael McGeever on a road along the Leitrim/Cavan border and gardai are still baffled by his abduction and reappearance.
Despite the fact that he was missing for eight months, a friend Mr McGeever contacted shortly after his release “seemed uninterested” in coming to collect him from Ballinamore and interviews of Mr McGeever by gardai have yielded very little concrete information as the businessman remains “very confused and vague” about his time in captivity.
A special incident room has been set up in Gort Garda Station, Co Galway to lead the investigation which began in Ballinamore following Mr McGeever’s discovery by a passing motorist on January 29.
The Leitrim Observer was the first to break the story of the discovery of 58-year-old Mr McGeever, who was found in a ‘malnourished’ state standing on the roadway just a few kilometres outside Ballinamore.
The driver of the car which stopped to assist him last Tuesday night, Catherine Vallely, told the Observer that she initially thought Mr McGeever was a traffic cone because of the red work pants he was wearing and the flashing hand lamp he carried.
“He was wrapped in a black plastic sheet, wearing a woolly hat and socks but no shoes. When we stopped I asked him “what are you doing standing in the middle of the road?” and he said he was thrown out of a van,” she recalled.
She described him as being very confused and disorientated. He had a mobile phone in his possession but he didn’t appear to know how to use it and seemed desperate to contact a friend. Mr McGeever told Ms Vallely he had been given the mobile phone by the men who left him on the road “with enough credit for one call.”
Ms Vallely said that her partner, Pat Rehill, who was also in the car, took the phone from Mr McGeever and phoned the friend. “His number was the only one listed in the mobile phone,” recalled Ms Vallely.
However, when contacted the friend, who Ms Vallely referred to as Mr X during our interview, “didn’t seem all that interested” in coming to collect Mr McGeever.
“We asked him to come and meet us in Ballinamore and he said it was too far. We then said we’d meet him with Mr McGeever in the carpark of Tesco in Carrick-on-Shannon but to be honest, he didn’t seem all that interested in coming to get him which was a bit strange,” she recalled.
She said that they handed the phone back to Mr McGeever who had a discussion with his friend but no agreement seemed to be reached on whether Mr X intended to come and collect Mr McGeever.
With little other option, Ms Vallely and her partner decided they would bring Mr McGeever to Ballinamore Garda Station.
When they told Mr McGeever of their intention he was initially reluctant stating “no, don’t take me near the guards, I don’t want them to get involved.”.
However Ms Vallely said they were so concerned over his dishevelled appearance and confused frame of mind that they drove him to the Garda Station and a female Garda came out to speak with Mr McGeever. He was brought into the Garda station where he was fed.
“At this point we didn’t know he had been kidnapped. He had said nothing about being kidnapped to us when he was in the car but he was just so confused. He just said he had been in the dark wrapped in a sheet and that he had been thrown out of a van. He just seemed so confused and initially, I thought he was maybe lost or homeless. It wasn’t till we got into the Garda station that we noticed a piece of tape with some material attached around his neck. When he was asked about it Mr McGeever said “it was in my mouth” and you could see it was a gag of some sort,” she said.
A subsequent check on Mr McGeever’s name revealed he had been reported missing in June 2012.
He was later brought to Mullingar General Hospital where he was treated for dehydration and malnutrition. There were initial reports that the businessman had the word ‘thief’ carved into his forehead with a knife but it has since emerged that this had been written with a pen.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer a Garda spokesperson acknowledged the case was ‘baffling’ and said that the last recorded sighting of Mr McGeever had been in Clontarf, Dublin on May 26/27. He was not reported missing until June 22 when an incident report was filed in Gort Garda Station.
Gardai have since interviewed Mr McGeever but he remains very confused and “quite vague with his recollection of events”. They said they hoped to speak with him again in the coming days.