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Gardai recognised three men accused of Kevin Lunney kidnap from CCTV footage, court told


Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

Gardai have told the Kevin Lunney kidnapping trial they recognised three of the accused men in CCTV footage that allegedly shows them meeting in Dublin before setting off to commit the crime.

Officers said they knew the accused, and were able to identify them when shown video from locations including the north inner-city and Co Cavan.

The defence initially challenged the admissibility of the identification evidence when the non-jury trial resumed at the Special Criminal Court today. However, the lawyers later withdrew their objections and the three judges admitted the garda testimony to the non-jury trial.

Yesterday, the court allowed mobile phone records and video footage to be used by the prosecution, following weeks of legal argument over its admissibility.

Mr Lunney (52), a Quinn Industrial Holdings director, was bundled into a car outside his Co Fermanagh home and taken to a container, where his captors broke his leg with a wooden bat, slashed his face with a Stanley knife and doused his wounds in bleach while ordering him to resign from the company.

They carved ‘QIH’ into his chest with the knife before dumping him, stripped to his boxer shorts, on a roadside in Drumcoghill, Co Cavan.

Four men are on trial.

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Darren Redmond (27), of Caledon Road, Alan O’Brien (40) of Shelmalier Road, both in East Wall, Dublin, and a man ‘YZ’ (40), who cannot legally be named, are all alleged to have been directly involved in the attack.

Luke O’Reilly (67), from Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan is accused of providing “material assistance in the planning and execution of the offences" and owned the land where Mr Lunney was allegedly held.

They all face the same charges of false imprisonment and causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan, on September 17, 2019, which they deny.

Today, the prosecution sought to adduce evidence of garda identification of three of the accused –YZ, Mr O’Brien and Mr Redmond – from CCTV footage alleged to link them to the offences.

The video purports to show YZ and Mr O’Brien meeting outside YZ’s north Dublin apartment complex before a preparatory trip to Cavan on September 16, 2019, the day before the kidnapping.

It is also claimed that Mr Redmond was seen with YZ at the same location on September 17, before the three allegedly travelled in a van to Cavan.

Garda Eric Keogh said he was involved in “small area policing” assigned to the north inner city neighbourhood where YZ lived.

He told prosecutor Sean Guerin that on November 3, he was called to Store Street garda station and invited to assist in an ongoing investigation. He was not told what was being investigated or who the suspects were beforehand or when he got there. He was given “no information,” he said.

He was informed he would be shown a few clips of CCTV footage and was brought to the interview room at 4.45pm.

He was shown a number of clips and still images and these were shown in court again, with Gda Keogh asked by Mr Guerin who he had been able to recognise.

The first clip showed the street outside the car park at an inner city apartment block at 3.20pm on September 16, 2019. The court previously heard this apartment complex was where YZ lived.

A man and woman were seen getting out of a red car and Gda Keogh said he recognised the passenger as YZ. Gda Keogh turned to point YZ out in the dock.

He went on to identify YZ as one of two men seen inside Applegreen, Rahardrum, Virginia, Co Cavan at 10.13pm on the same day, September 16.

He identified YZ at 12.37pm at the apartment complex on September 17, and again 10 minutes later and at 1.02pm and 1.04pm with another man.

He also identified YZ in footage inside Spar, Portland Row, on September 22, 2019 and walking outside a pharmacy in Dundalk, Co Louth on October 24.

Gda Keogh knew YZ, and two other people he named after viewing the footage.

In cross-examination, YZ’s barrister Michael O’Higgins SC put it to the garda that he had viewed his client’s garda Pulse records at 12.21pm on November 3 – before he went to view the CCTV.

The garda believed accessing YZ’s profile that day was “just a coincidence”.

Mr O’Higgins put it to him he had it in his mind that he was being asked to view the footage because of his role in local policing and he looked up some “likely candidates” to brief himself in advance.

Gda Keogh said he was not aware of what he was being asked to do at the time of the CCTV identification, and when he was invited to view it he was not led to believe it was anything to do with his community policing role.

He said he did not know where the footage was from.

Garda Conor Moore said he had previously been assigned to community policing in the same area and was asked to view CCTV on November 5, 2019.

In the apartment complex footage from September 16, he was able to identify Alan Rooney walking towards the red car and YZ getting out of it. He pointed out Alan Rooney, nicknamed “Pegger”, also known as Alan O’Brien, the accused, in court, as well as YZ.

He identified both these accused in another clip from the apartment complex on the afternoon of September 16, and from Applegreen in Virginia later that night.

In clips from outside the apartment complex at 12.37pm and 12.46pm on September 17, Gda Moore identified YZ walking beside Alan Redmond.

He identified Mr Redmond walking with another man minutes later, and Mr O’Brien walking outside the apartments two minutes after that. He recognised YZ wearing a Man United polo shirt in Spar on Portland Row on September 22, 2019, and Mr O’Brien at Applegreen, Lusk on October 23 that year. He identified YZ again outside a pharmacy in Dundalk on October 24.

Garda Conor Fox said he attended Store Street station on November 11 and was asked to view the CCTV footage at 3.15pm. He identified YZ in clips at the apartment complex on September 16, Applegreen in Virginia, Co Cavan later that night, again at the apartments on the early afternoon of September 17, as well as inside the Spar in September and outside the pharmacy in October.

Like the other witnesses, he said he had no discussion with colleagues before the identification.

Afterwards, at 5.29pm that day, he made a Pulse enquiry about YZ but could not recall the reason.

Mr O’Higgins said he had been “complimentary” about the identification process when a garda inspector gave evidence last week, and the defence had not intended to object to it today.

However, when extra evidence about garda Pulse checks on some of the accused arrived this morning it was “new to us”. He said he was now satisfied there were three Pulse enquiries, two of them “after the event”, which could not have had a bearing on what went before.

All witnesses so far had said there was no discussion between them. He said the defence was withdrawing its objections to the admissibility of the evidence.

Separately, Sgt Niall Leech said he took part in searches at Mr O’Reilly’s home and lands at Mullahoran on September 20, 2019 and his yard at Drumbrade on September 23.

He gave evidence of seizing two empty bottles of bleach from bins at the first location. At the second, he said, he saw several lorries and trailers, including a blue horsebox, which was the focus of a search by the garda technical bureau.

After this was finished, he said a fingertip search was carried out of the floor of the blue horsebox before it was removed by a crane and put on the back of a removal truck.

The horsebox and other vehicles had nothing growing under them but a white unit had grass and weeds under it and he formed the view that it had only been placed there very recently.

When they removed the white trailer, gardai found a fresh tyre track under it.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh next week.

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