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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
John McVitty Cyril McGuinness
Cyril McGuinness

Alleged mastermind of Kevin Lunney torture was career criminal with over 50 convictions

Cyril McGuinness died of a suspected heart attack today.

THE ALLEGED MASTERMIND behind the abduction and torture of Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney was an ex-IRA figure with serious criminal links north and south of the border. 

Cyril McGuinness died of a suspected heart attack when police burst through the door of a house in Derbyshire, England, this morning. That raid was taking place as part of a major multi-jurisdiction operation by officers investigating the attack on the businessman. 

McGuinness, also known by the nickname Dublin Jimmy, was a notorious criminal who operated mainly along the border region.

While he ran seemingly legitimate businesses, gardaí and the PSNI had long believed he was behind a spate of ATM robberies across Ireland. 

McGuinness was also believed to be one of the masterminds behind the spate of ATM thefts which have been occurring across the border region, in particular over the last two years. 

The gardaí and PSNI focus will now turn to McGuinness’s associates who they believe are the people who actually carried out the brutal assault on Lunney.

We now know, from Lunney’s interview with BBC Spotlight earlier this week, that during his ordeal, one of his assailants was speaking on the phone to someone he kept referring to as “boss”.

It is the position of police forces both north and south that this “boss” was McGuinness. 

McGuinness had over 50 criminal convictions for a variety of offences – including for smuggling and the illegal transport of waste.

He was also extradited to Belgium in 2011 where he was given a seven year prison sentence for stealing trucks and machinery. The sentence was handed down in his absence as he had fled from Bruges while on bail before he could be jailed.

The European Arrest Warrant which was issued at the time described McGuinness as a major player in an active criminal organisation.

Gardaí and the PSNI confirmed earlier that the large-scale search operation was under way. 

Gardaí searched five locations in Cavan, three locations in County Longford and four in Dublin. The premises were described as a mixture of domestic dwellings and commercial business premises.

Meanwhile Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and PSNI Assistant Commissioner Mark Hamilton today signed off on a joint investigation team, overseen by Eurojust, which allows for increased cooperation between authorities in the investigation into attacks on Quinn Industrial Holdings.

Harris said police north and south want to be seen to act “in a strong and robust way to show that there’s no room for criminality anywhere on the island of Ireland”. 

He said the joint investigation team allows the two police forces to join up their parallel investigations and share intelligence and evidence more quickly. 

“This is not just going forward, this is retrospective so we can do down through the past number of years, us back to 2015 in terms of our investigations, and the PSNI even further back again, and we’ll be able to join up those investigations in terms of the information.”

Hamilton told reporters at Garda Headquarters in Dublin today that they are also looking at “the best place to carry our prosecutions”.

“The collaborative element of this is about trying to get the best criminal justice outcome, wherever it happens to be on the island. It’s not about having to have a prosecution in the North and having to have one in the South.

“It’s about the best evidence that brings forth the best prosecution against the people who are perpetrating these crimes.”

Police in the UK confirmed that an independent investigation into the search of McGuinness’s house was underway. 

A spokesperson for the Independent Office for Police Conduct in the UK said: “Following a referral from Derbyshire Constabulary we have started an investigation into the death of a man who was detained by their officers at an address in the Fairfield area of Buxton early today.

“We understand that the officers were executing a warrant at the property at around 7.30am when the man, aged in his 50s, became unwell. He was taken to a hospital where sadly he was later pronounced dead. We declared an independent investigation late this morning after we were contacted by the force and we have sent investigators to the property and to the police post incident procedure to begin gathering information.”

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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