Belfast Telegraph

Gardai find site where abducted Quinn director tortured as CCTV footage of suspect is examined

Gardai cordon off an area in Co Cavan
Gardai cordon off an area in Co Cavan
Liam McCaffrey
Kevin Lunney

By Annamay McNally

Gardai believe they may have found the remote location in Co Cavan where Fermanagh businessman Kevin Lunney was brutally beaten and tortured after he was abducted.

They had focused on outhouses and sheds several miles from the Cavan-Longford border before sealing off an area of land in Drumbade outside the village of Ballinagh.

Meanwhile, CCTV images emerged of one of the gang members suspected of involvement appearing to buy bleach that may have been used to destroy forensic evidence.

Vehicle checkpoints were also conducted north of the border on Saturday night by the PSNI.

It also urged the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity in the wake of the brutal ordeal suffered by father-of-six Mr Lunney, a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH).

More details of the attack on Mr Lunney were revealed by the Sunday Times yesterday.

Mr Lunney was kidnapped outside his home last Tuesday evening and taken to a location in Cavan or Longford, where he was beaten and tortured in a trailer, possibly one used to transport horses.

It's understood detectives believe they may have identified one of those responsible for the attack after obtaining CCTV footage showing a gang member buying a bottle of bleach, which they believe was later used to wipe Mr Lunney down in a bid to destroy DNA evidence.

It has also been learned that, separately, gardai are expected to quiz several men from Cavan and Leitrim for allegedly issuing death threats.

A number of incidents have been reported to both gardai and the PSNI but to date no one has yet been interviewed.

QIH director and chairman John McCartin has confirmed that he received five separate threats at face-to-face meetings with one particular man.

He has confirmed that he reported the individuals who approached him and that he kept contemporaneous notes about each incident.

It's understood the Garda will probe previous threats as a separate strand to the investigation into Mr Lunney's abduction.

According to friends who have spoken to Mr Lunney, who police said was left with life-changing injuries, the company director almost escaped by opening the boot of the Audi car used to take him from where he was abducted to where he was beaten.

Such was the barbarity of the attack, however, the kidnappers then stopped the getaway vehicle and beat Mr Lunney into submission after they realised he had been about to free himself.

Hundreds of workers were joined by local people, politicians and pupils from St Aidan's High School in Derrylin, which Mr Lunney's children attend, at a rally outside the company headquarters on Friday evening, when there was a call for an end to attacks and the intimidation of the firm's management.

The firm has recorded more than 70 incidents of intimidation and criminal damage in the past eight years.

Alan Dukes, the former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, disclosed threats dating back to 2011 when the bank took control of businesses once owned by former billionaire Sean Quinn, who described the attack on Kevin Lunney, in an interview with the radio station Northern Sound, as "fairly barbaric".

Mr Lunney, his brother Tony, QIH's production director Liam McCaffrey, another director John McCartin and chief financial officer Dara O'Reilly, have all been living under threat for the past five years.

The business has been fire-bombed, while directors have faced attacks on their reputation and have been targeted in online campaigns, subjected to arson attacks, and verbally and physically assaulted.

Meanwhile, Mr McCaffrey has revealed how just a short time after saying goodbye to his friend and fellow director Mr Lunney on Tuesday evening at around 5.30pm, he was surprised to notice five missed calls on his mobile from Tony Lunney, a brother of the victim and also an QIH executive.

Mr McCaffrey recalled: "He said - and this is a mark of the man and a mark of the Lunneys - he said: 'Liam, are you safe? Kevin's missing'.

"At that time he didn't know Kevin's car was ablaze. There was a ferocious fire burning in it. He didn't know if Kevin was in the car or out of it. It was unapproachable. So I drove out to the site. By the time I got there the fire was out. It was clear then that Kevin was missing."

Mr McCaffrey has also spoken of how he called for more protection last November after Tony Lunney's daughter's car was burnt.

"I said somebody would suffer a loss of life if this wasn't taken seriously," he said.

"There was some uptake in Garda activity after that - more patrols. This is worse than anything else by a long mark, but what's happened on every other occasion is we get media attention, we get all sorts of attention for a period of days and all of a sudden we are on our own again.

"That can't happen this time, We've got to see this through to whatever the resolution is, but we can't be left so naked here to try to run a company with 830 staff depending on us. We've enough to be doing with that than try to figure out what criminal gang is coming after us."

Officers believe a cross-border crime gang with links to republican paramilitaries was paid to carry out the attack as part of a campaign of intimidation against five senior executives from QIH, who had all previously received warnings from the thugs to resign from the company.

The gang is believed to comprise associates of a crime boss who was behind a spate of ATM and other robberies several years ago. He is well-known to the PSNI and police forces overseas.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mullan said: "This was a horrific attack. Our investigation is continuing and we are working closely with our An Garda Siochana colleagues.

"I am appealing to anyone who noticed any suspicious activity or saw a black saloon Audi being driven in the Derrylin, Fermanagh/Swanlinbar, Cavan areas on Tuesday, 17 September to contact us or our colleagues in An Garda Siochana."

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