Belfast Telegraph

Garda appeal over van used in kidnapping of Quinn chief

Police at scene where horse-box believed to have been used to hold abducted Kevin Lunney was discovered
Police at scene where horse-box believed to have been used to hold abducted Kevin Lunney was discovered
Kevin Lunney

By Ken Foy and Tom Brady

Gardai are searching for a van they believe was used to transport Co Fermanagh businessman Kevin Lunney.

The father-of-six was kidnapped by masked men before being tortured for more than two hours.

As a joint Garda-PSNI investigation into the abduction and attack on the Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) executive continued, information was yesterday released on a distinctive van in "poor repair" that investigators believe Mr Lunney was transported in.

Police are hoping to trace the white Transit-type van in the hope that it could provide vital evidence.

Mr Lunney (50) is still in hospital after suffering life-changing injuries when he was kidnapped and badly beaten last Tuesday before being left at the side of the road in Co Cavan.

He was taken from his car near his home in Derrylin by a group of four masked men.

A number of properties in the Cavan area have been searched and gardai are now trying to identify the gang involved through DNA recovered from inside a horse-box in which they believe Mr Lunney was tortured and beaten.

Describing the van yesterday, a Garda spokesperson said it was "in poor repair and may have a loose, screeching fan belt".

"This van has a distinctive painted red floor or partially red floor in the rear cargo area," they added.

The appeal for information came as Garda Commissioner Drew Harris denied suggestions there had been a failure on the part of his force in their enquiries into more than 70 incidents linked to attacks on QIH and its personnel since 2011 or 2012.

He said there had been arrests and files prepared for the Republic's Director of Public Prosecutions but none had resulted in criminal charges.

He said his officers were reviewing all of the information and intelligence that had been gathered in previous enquiries to establish if any of it could be useful to the investigation into the attack on Mr Lunney.

Mr Harris said there was no shortage of resources allocated to the Lunney investigation and personnel from the Cavan-Monaghan area were being supported by Garda national units.

He said he understood that people may be afraid to come forward but said anybody with information that could help the authorities could pass it on in strict confidence.

He made the comments during a cross-border organised crime conference in Co Cavan, close to where the kidnapping of Mr Lunney took place.

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said the escalation of violence against QIH "came out of nowhere". He added: "We are both determined, in terms of the investigative opportunities on either side of the border, that we exploit the information we get from our own enquiries, or indeed the public. They will be crucial in solving this crime.

"We have had an uplift in our budget this year to recruit more officers in relation to Brexit and we are putting 190 extra officers into the border areas to raise our levels of presence."

Mr Harris described the perpetrators as dangerous.

"They are vicious individuals, given the nature of the attack that was conducted," he said.

"They had some degree of organisation, there is no doubt about that."

He said local people should not be afraid to come forward, adding that he did not want to "big up" the gang responsible.

Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday visited the headquarters of QIH in Ballyconnell and met executives.

"I heard first-hand of their experience and I was pleased to have the opportunity to brief them on the assurances that are necessary in order to maintain the rule of law," he said.

"I acknowledge that there has been a history of intimidation and attacks.

"Nobody in our community is above the law. We are now seeing an intensifying investigation. No stone will be left unturned in bringing these people to justice."

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