Belfast Telegraph

Net closes on 'paymaster' behind QIH attacks after death of kidnap suspect

Cyril McGuinness suffered a heart attack during raid by police in England
Cyril McGuinness suffered a heart attack during raid by police in England
A police officer near the scene where Kevin Lunney was abducted last month

By Tom Brady

The net is closing on the paymaster financing the gang behind the Kevin Lunney abduction after police recovered significant evidence in raids across three countries.

The criminal suspected of organising the attack, Cyril 'Dublin Jimmy' McGuinness (53), suffered a heart attack when police kicked in the door of his safe house in Derbyshire, yesterday.

The property was one of 18 searched by Gardai, the PSNI and British police in what has been described as a "valuable step in the evidence gathering stage" of the probe.

And during a search of what McGuinness regarded as his safe house, officers recovered documents and electronic devices which could lead to a breakthrough in the investigation.

McGuinness became ill during the raid at 7.30am and collapsed and later died in hospital. He is thought to have suffered a heart attack after Derbyshire police, acting at the request of Garda, burst in through his front door.

McGuinness had believed he could "lie low" in the house in Buxton until the investigation in Ireland had scaled down. One officer said he was taken completely by surprise and there was no time for him to shred any of the potential evidence.

McGuinness, who was known as 'Dublin Jimmy', had more than 50 criminal convictions including Ireland, the UK, Serbia and Belgium and was involved in the theft of mechanical vehicles.

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Police seized a large amount of documentation as well as mobile phones and a laptop. These will now be forensically examined as part of the inquiries by the gardai and the PSNI as they build up a case to bring criminal charges against suspected members of the McGuinness-led gang and also attempt to unmask the man, who has been referred to by Quinn Industrial Holdings executives as the "paymaster".

McGuinness is understood to have been hiding out in Buxton for a number of weeks.

Originally from Swords, Dublin, and later from Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, he had been regarded by the gardai as the prime suspect for the abduction of Mr Lunney since the early stages of the massive investigation into the crime.

Those targeted included McGuinness, suspected of orchestrating the abduction and assault of Mr Lunney, as well as those suspected of direct involvement in the barbaric attack.

While the searches targeted those who were either directly involved or organised the abduction of Mr Lunney, investigators are also targeting the paymaster who has bankrolled the attacks on QIH directors.

No arrests were made yesterday as part of the investigation to the assault on Kevin Lunney on September 17, but evidence including laptops, mobile phones and documents were recovered.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that they are investigating a number of facets to the crime which includes the motivation behind it.

The Garda chief, speaking at the organisation's headquarters alongside the PSNI's Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton yesterday, said: "A series of 12 searches have been undertaken today again to advance the investigation of facets of this crime and that includes motivation, which is a subject of the investigation,"

A joint Garda-PSNI team was also announced to provide a "robust" investigation into the QIH attacks.

Mr Lunney (50), a father-of-six, was abducted from his Fermanagh home before being brought to a container in Cavan where he was beaten, sliced and had bleached poured over him in an ordeal lasting over two hours.

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