Verdict being delivered in Kevin Lunney assault trial

The Special Criminal Court has begun delivering its verdict in the trial of four men accused of abducting and torturing businessman Kevin Lunney just over two years ago.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding over the three judge, non-jury court, indicated today the judgment will take several hours to read.

Alan O’Brien (40) and Darren Redmond (27), both from East Wall in Dublin; Luke O’Reilly (68) from Kilcogy, Co Cavan; and a 40-year-old man, who may only be identified as YZ, all denied charges of falsely imprisoning and intentionally causing serious harm to 51-year-old Mr Lunney.

The trial heard Mr Lunney, an executive at Quinn Industrial Holdings, was on September 17th 2019 bundled into the boot of a car and driven to a horse trailer. His leg was broken, he was doused in bleach and had the letters QIH carved into his chest.

His attackers told him repeatedly to resign as a director of the company before dumping him on a roadside in Co Cavan.

During the trial, which began in June and ran for 40 days, the prosecution alleged the attack was coordinated by a convicted criminal, Cyril McGuinness, known as Dublin Jimmy, who died in November 2019.

Prosecuting counsel Seán Guerin said Mr Lunney was subjected to an “ordeal of callous brutality and gratuitous violence designed to intimidate him and leave him with injuries he would never forget”.

Lawyers for each of the defendants argued the case against their clients had not been proven and their clients should be acquitted of the charges against them.

At the outset of the judgment, Mr Justice Hunt said the court was satisfied that Mr Lunney was falsely imprisoned and intentionally seriously harmed and it accepted his evidence in that regard.

The medical evidence concerning his injuries was “self-explanatory” and reached the threshold of establishing serious harm, he said.

The judge noted the burden of proof lies with the prosecution in relation to the charges advanced and the accused do not have to prove their innocence.

The “live issue” is the extent to which the evidence proves the complicity of the accused in the offences, he said.

The court will give its verdict on each of the accused, having considered all the evidence, at the end of its judgment for reasons including overlapping of some evidence, he said.

The judge outlined the evidence of Mr Lunney of the incident on September 17th 2019.

He described Mr Lunney as “a most impressive and careful witness” and said the court accepted his account of events. He had an “uncanny” ability to estimate time although his attackers had removed his watch early on, the judge said.

Mr Lunney had said he was told by one of his abductors: “We’re not going to kill you, we want to talk to you”, he noted.

The judge noted various descriptions given by Mr Lunney of his masked abductors and that he had recalled seeing a Lakeland Dairies sign and that the car stopped about 25 minutes after that.

The court was satisfied that Mr Lunney arrived at the final location between 7.20 and 7.30pm.

There was discussion outside the car and one of the abductors said he had “broken the f**king lock”. He was taken out of the boot and led away. A knife was put to his neck and he was aggressively told he was there because of QIH and he had “done damage” and he was going to resign along with other directors.

The judge said Mr Lunney had said he was also told he was going to drop various court proceedings taken by him, that he had said he would do so and had asked them not to kill him. One man said they knew all about him, that he had a daughter in the GAA club and had been watching him for six weeks.

There was a reference by the abductors to DNA evidence and one had said they will need bleach.

Mr Lunney was left in the horse trailer with one of the men, his hands were tied behind his back and he was kneeling on the floor. That man refused to allow him stand and had tightened cable ties on his hands which started to get numb as a result.

The other men came back and poured bleach on his hands and rubbed it in, the judge said.

His clothes were cut off and he was left in his boxer shorts. One man had started to remove those but another said no, leave him with his dignity. They poured bleach over his body.

The car driver then again told him to resign from QIH and to drop his court proceedings and Mr Lunney had said he would do so. Then told they were going to “rough” him up and he was hit very hard on the right leg with a wooden implement. He was conscious his leg was broken. He was also cut with the Stanley knife from ear to chin, was struck in the arm and right side and again told you’re resigning and “all those cases and the others” and he said yes.

The letters QIH were scored on his chest by one of the abductors with the Stanley knife, the carver spoke the letters as he carved them and had said it was so Mr Lunney would remember he was there.

The judgment is continuing.

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