We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Special Criminal Court

Kevin Lunney describes crawling injured on road after abduction

He was giving evidence at the trial of four men accused of falsely imprisoning him and causing him serious harm.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Jun 2021

QUINN INDUSTRIAL HOLDINGS director Kevin Lunney feared that nobody would come to help as he dragged himself along a country road, shivering from the cold, with a broken leg, knife wounds to his chest, and blood dripping from his face, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Lunney (52) had been stripped to his boxer shorts before his attackers abandoned him on the side of a dark, country road at about 9pm on a September night.

Giving evidence at the trial of four men accused of falsely imprisoning him and causing him serious harm, Lunney said he dragged himself using just his left arm and left leg to a larger road, hoping a passerby would help.

From there he saw a light in the distance which he tried to crawl towards.

He said: “I was exhausted. I could sense the blood running down my chest and I was conscious my face was bleeding. My left arm and left leg were all I could use to push myself along but I decided to push myself towards that window and kept doing that for, I don’t know, a number of minutes.”

He said he stopped a couple of times, exhausted, before pushing on again. “I was getting fearful that I wouldn’t get there and nobody would come,” he said.

When a tractor driver finally stopped, Lunney said he was “violently shaking and shivering”. Someone else who stopped put a pair of pyjamas over him and when gardai arrived they used various things to cover him.

A witness who attended the scene also described today (THU) how she gave Lunney 7Up and sat with him until gardai arrived.

An unnamed man referred to as YZ (40), Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and Luke O’Reilly (67), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan have all pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on 17 September, 2019.

The first accused cannot be named by order of the court as he is due to face trial on other, unrelated matters.

Lunney took the stand today for about two hours and was only briefly cross-examined by barristers representing two of the four accused. He told Guerin that he finished work at 6.30pm and was driving up a lane that leads to his house when he saw a strange car.

He stopped and the car reversed at speed, striking his car. Two men got out, ran towards him and, following a struggle, they dragged him from his car. A third man arrived in a black car, which Lunney thought was an Audi A4 or A6, and held a Stanley knife to Lunney’s neck.

The men told Lunney that they wanted to talk to him, that they weren’t going to kill him and ordered him to get into the boot of the black car.

He said: “I tried to resist, I tried to fight the individuals and resisted going in but I was simply pushed into the boot and I wasn’t able to resist. As soon as the boot closed I could hear the vehicle taking off at speed.”

Lunney described how he pulled a lever to open the boot, prompting someone in the car to shout: “He’s opened the effing boot.” Lunney thought about jumping out but the car was going too fast.

He lowered his foot towards the road but when the sole of his shoe started to rip on the road surface he realised that wasn’t going to work. The car slowed down and Lunney thought he might be able to jump, but someone in the car pulled the back seats down and grabbed Lunney’s foot.

When the car stopped Lunney fell out onto the road and was surrounded by the three men who told him: “We are not going to kill you, we just want to talk to you. If you don’t get in we will kill you.”

The man with the Stanley knife pressed the knife against Lunney’s head and then Lunney was struck on the left side of the head with what he believed to be a wooden object. He believed the same man who had the Stanley knife was the one who struck him but he couldn’t be sure.

After being struck, he said, he was “a bit dazed” and could no longer resist. Back inside the boot the back seat passenger held Lunney’s hands. He noticed the man was wearing a black top with an “Under Armour” logo. The man asked Lunney over and over if he had a tracking device or a second mobile phone. He seemed “agitated”, Lunney said, and warned him that he “better not have” a tracking device. The man also warned Lunney to stop looking through the car window.

As the journey continued Lunney heard a phone call in which the driver told someone: “Boss, this man has resisted and we had to hit him.”

Lunney said his face was “very sore”, he felt dazed and blood was running from his face to his arm.

One of the men in the car put material over Lunney’s face so that he couldn’t see. For ten to 15 minutes the car appeared to be going over rough roads as Lunney was “thrown about in the boot,” but there were also periods when they appeared to be in a town or village. At one point he saw what he thought was a “Lakeland Dairies” sign and later what might have been a pub. The entire journey may have taken 40 to 50 minutes, he said.

When the car stopped the men took Lunney out of the boot. With the material over his head he couldn’t see clearly but noticed what appeared to be white buildings and trees and the place appeared to be overgrown with grass and weeds. He was led towards a blue container where, to his right, was another building that might have been brown.

The men led Lunney into the blue container which was about two and a half metres wide and five or six metres long. There was animal dung on the floor and he thought he was probably standing in a horse box.

One of the men asked: “Do you know why you’re here? You are here because of Quinn Industrial Holdings.”

Lunney said the man told him to resign and said that Lunney had “destroyed the company” or “done damage”. He testified: “The perception was I had done something to the company. They said, you are going to resign and they named three other directors as well and that they were going to resign as well.”

Lunney said he didn’t respond when he was first told to resign and then it was said more aggressively and then over and over.

He said: “It was clear that I was going to resign or they were going to do something else to me. It wasn’t a question. It was: ‘You’re going to resign.’”

Lunney promised he would resign and that he would tell his fellow directors to do the same. He said the men also warned him to “drop these charges and injunctions north and south.” Lunney said that QIH was at that time involved in two defamation cases in Northern Ireland and the Republic and he personally had an interim injunction against another person in Northern Ireland.

Lunney told his attackers that he would do what they want and begged: “Just don’t kill me.”

Lunney said one of the men told him: “We know about your daughter in the GAA top. We have been watching you for six weeks and if you don’t do what we say we will come back.” When asked if he knew what that meant, Lunney told Guerin: “My daughter played GAA. There was an event the previous weekend in Fermanagh and I was with her.”

The conversation then turned to DNA and one of the men, possibly the one who held Lunney from the back seat of the car, grabbed Lunney’s left hand and used a Stanley knife to scrape under his finger nails. He went from finger to finger, occasionally drawing blood.

The conversation about DNA continued and the men decided they needed bleach. They tied Lunney’s hands with cable ties and pulled a bag tightly over his head. Two of the men left and Lunney heard a car driving away.

Lunney was now on his knees in the trailer with just one other person. When Lunney, in pain from kneeling on the floor, asked if he could stand up, the man became agitated, said ‘no’, and tightened the cable ties so that Lunney felt his hands go numb.

When the two men returned it was dark and they used torches to see. They poured liquid over Lunney’s hands and rubbed it in with a rough rag. He could smell that it was bleach and felt it burning the cuts in his fingers. Then they pushed Lunney onto his back and one of them said: “We have to strip him.”

They took off his socks and shoes and cut his trousers with the Stanley knife, cutting his legs as they did so. To remove his shirt they had to remove the cable ties. When one of them went to remove Lunney’s boxer shorts another of them said: “No, leave him with his dignity.”

They made Lunney rub the bleach into his own legs and torso and then they poured bleach under the material covering Lunney’s face and rubbed his head while he coughed and spluttered and struggled to breathe.

He felt the bleach burning in the cuts on his fingers, face and legs.

Lunney was put standing up and was again told to resign from QIH. One of them said: “We will let you go but we will have to rough you up.”

The man told Lunney to “hold out your leg” and when he resisted he was told; “Hold out your leg or we will hit your face.” The man was holding some sort of wooden implement rougher and narrower than a bat.

He struck Lunney “very hard” on the middle of his shin. Lunney immediately felt that his leg was broken and when the man asked if it “snapped” Lunney shouted: “Yes it did.” But one of the others said, no, and he was immediately struck again in the same place. He said: “The force was similar or harder and it was even more painful again the second time. I was conscious the leg was broken immediately so the second blow was extremely painful.”

He was then struck 12 to 20 times, hard, with a number of blows landing on his right arm. With every blow his attacker told him: “You’re resigning.”

The man then shined a light in Lunney’s face and said: “We have to mark you.” He used the Stanley blade to make a series of cuts on both sides of Lunney’s face from ear to chin, down and across. Lunney would later require 26 stitches to his face and a pin in his leg.

The man then told Lunney that he wanted him to remember why this had happened and “quickly scored QIH down my stomach with a Stanley knife,” Lunney said. He repeated the letters QIH as he inflicted the wound.

Lunney believed all these injuries were inflicted by the same man who had first threatened him with a Stanley knife in the lane near his home.

The men then told Lunney that they were going to let him go. They said they would leave him on a road and he would be able to crawl to a garden to get help. They carried him from the trailer and put him into the cargo area of what might have been a Transit van.

One of the men was in the back with Lunney while the other two were in the front. The man who he believed had inflicted his injuries was driving and said to him: “You’re resigning now. We’ll let you go. You’re resigning.” There was then a discussion between the driver and the passenger and Lunney heard the driver say: “No, I take his word for it. He’s going to resign.”

They warned him not to speak to gardaí and that if he told gardaí about “a Dublin gang” doing this they would come back. Lunney believed the implication was that they would kill him.

They stopped the van and told Lunney that he was getting out. They pushed him to the side door, warned him not to look at them or they would kill him and he fell out onto the road.

Lunney said he didn’t wait long before trying to move. The conditions were dry but cold, his leg was “extremely sore” and his arm was almost unusable. It was dark, he said, and when his eyes focused he could see that he was on a narrow, country road. Less than 100 metres ahead was a junction to a larger road. He couldn’t see any garden so he crawled towards the junction “inch by inch”.

He said: “I could feel my body shivering very violently as I went along.”

When he was close to the road he saw a car go by and shouted and waved but the driver didn’t notice. When he reached the junction he crawled into the middle of the road but then thought that might not be sensible and went back to the verge. He noticed a light from a window some distance off, further than he had already crawled. “I was exhausted,” he said, “I could sense the blood running down my chest. I was conscious my face was bleeding. My left arm and left leg was all I could use to push myself along but I decided to push myself towards that window.”

He had crawled 30 to 40 metres when he heard a tractor and when he saw lights coming he waved to attract attention and the tractor pulled up alongside him. The driver asked what had happened and Lunney explained that he had been attacked.

He asked for a phone and called the PSNI. Others came and assisted, covering him with whatever they could find. “I was violently shaking and shivering,” he said, before an ambulance arrived and took him to Cavan General Hospital. He was later transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where he had a steel pin inserted into his leg.

Aaron Brady told Guerin that he was the tractor driver who first found Lunney. When he saw him lying in the ditch Lunney had only his boxer shorts on. He was “cut and had blood all over him”.

Brady used his phone to dial a number Lunney gave him. It was a PSNI officer and Brady explained that he had found a man on the side of the road badly beaten. Brady called his mother who came to help and was joined by another lady named Celine Duignan.

Duignan told Guerin that she was on her way to her mother’s house when she stopped behind a tractor and saw there was someone on the side of the road. She knew Lunney, she said, because she had worked for Quinn Insurance years earlier.

He was able to lift his head and shoulder to talk but she could see he had been beaten up. There was a lot of blood and a wound to his cheek. From the position of his leg she could tell it was broken and he had cuts all over his body.

Ms Duignan called gardai and told them Kevin Lunney, who she said was “involved in the Quinn dispute”, had been beaten up. She gave Lunney 7up and sat with him until gardaí arrived.

The court also heard evidence from gardai of CCTV that they collected from various locations in Cavan in their investigation into the attack on Lunney.

The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Tony Hunt and Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.