Belfast Telegraph

Extortion demands of £200k made to Quinn directors an 'amateur hoax'

Tortured: Kevin Lunney
Tortured: Kevin Lunney

By Paul Williams

The directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) have dismissed as a "hoax" a number of emailed extortion demands they received following the abduction and torture of Fermanagh businessman Kevin Lunney.

A series of six anonymous emails were sent in September and October purporting to come from an individual or group using the alias 'Omagh Demon' on behalf of the 'High Command Council'.

The messages were delivered to QIH directors, a female relative and a local priest and demanded the immediate payment of £200,000 in cryptocurrency to prevent further attacks on the five executives.

Kevin Lunney (50) was abducted and tortured on September 17 as he made his way home from work. When the company ignored the initial extortion attempts, a further email was sent to the CEO Liam McCaffrey and financial controller Dara O'Reilly ordering them to release the money immediately with the chilling threat: "Flesh will burn. Tears will flow. Close QIH and get the hell out. The Eagle has landed."

On October 7, the extortionist then wrote directly to John McCartin, one of the five directors being targeted in the terror campaign, accusing him of blocking payment of the extortion demand.

The hoaxer threatened that he would be hung from a tree "like a thieving dog" and that "90 days after John dies, Liam (McCaffrey) will follow".

When that correspondence was also ignored, another email was sent to Liam McCaffrey and Dara O'Reilly informing them that a bomb had been placed in the company HQ that was primed to explode at 3pm that afternoon. The directors again ignored the threat and nothing happened.

At the time all the correspondence was handed over to officers from the cross-border joint policing task force set up to investigate the eight year-long campaign of intimidation, threats, physical assaults, criminal damage and arson.

Last night John McCartin dismissed the extortion demands as a hoax by an opportunist who wanted to cash in on the campaign of violence against the company directors by offering a "final truce".

And he claimed that the extortion threats have been "deliberately resurrected and disseminated" as part of a re-established propaganda campaign against the directors and also "to cover the tracks" of the mysterious 'paymaster' suspected of funding the violence.

Garda sources have also said they suspect the extortion demands were a hoax from an opportunistic criminal "who knows his way around using software to hide his identity and location, and also cryptocurrency to hide the money". However, it is understood that one line of enquiry being pursued by investigators is that the emails were written to "muddy the waters or deflect from other suspects".

Last night Mr McCartin said: "We and the police have known that this extortion attempt or threat was a hoax from the start which is why we never engaged with the sender.

"None of what was contained in the emails made any sense and was clearly the work of an amateur although we are told he went to great lengths to cover his cyber footprints. It had no credibility.

"The campaign to displace the QIH board has clearly been re-established and it is now using these irrelevant and historical emails to cover the tracks of the paymaster and the people around him."

Belfast Telegraph

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