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Three men found guilty of Kevin Lunney abduction and torture sentenced to between 18 and 30 years

The three men had denied the charges.
Dec 20th 2021, 6:31 AM 55,984 0

Updated Dec 20th 2021, 1:36 PM

THE SPECIAL CRIMINAL Court has imposed a 30-year prison sentence on the man known as YZ, who kidnapped and tortured Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney and who the media remain gagged from identifying.

YZ’s co-accused Alan O’Brien received a 25-year sentence while the youngest of the three accused, Darren Redmond, will serve 18 years with the final three suspended.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt handed down the sentences today at the three-judge, non-jury court saying that the only reason he did not impose a life sentence on any of the three men was that the most severe penalties should be reserved for those who finance or benefit from these types of crimes.

He described Lunney as an “impressive, measured and careful” witness who, in his victim impact statement, had displayed a “humanity lacking in these three individuals”.

He said they had carried out “premeditated and casual brutality” on a “decent man”.

He added: “Although Mr Lunney has displayed remarkable courage, stoicism and resilience, he will carry the emotional baggage of these crimes to his dying day.”

Mr Justice Hunt also commented on the claims made during the trial that the use of CCTV and mobile phone evidence against the three accused was a breach of their civil liberties.

The judge said the “outrageous scale” of the breaches of liberty carried out by the three accused on Lunney “puts in context the alleged incursion into civil liberty” caused by the investigation.

He said the “narrow focus” on trial rights is not the beginning and end of what is to be considered, as victims and society have a right to the proper investigation and prosecution of serious crime.

He said the purpose of the “callous and vicious” assault was to terrorise Lunney and others to prevent them going about their lawful business. There was also “chilling” evidence of the “deliberate and sinister” surveillance of Mr Lunney and his family, including his daughter, in the weeks before the abduction and assault.

Lunney, the judge said, could have died from his injuries, from hypothermia or from being struck by a car on the dark country road where he his attackers left him for dead.

Following a trial at the Special Criminal Court Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and a man known as YZ, were convicted of false imprisonment and intentionally causing harm to Mr Lunney at a yard at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on 17 September 2019. YZ cannot be identified due to an order of the High Court.

In his testimony earlier this year, Lunney said that he was forced into the boot of an Audi A4 near his home and driven to a container where he was threatened and told to resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings and to put a stop to litigation with which he was involved north and south of the border.

His attackers stripped him to his boxer shorts, doused him in bleach, broke his leg with two blows of a wooden bat, beat him on the ground, cut his face and scored the letters QIH into his chest with a Stanley knife.

They left him bloodied, beaten and shivering on a country road at Drumcoghill in Co Cavan where he was discovered by a man driving a tractor.

Delivering the judgement of the court, Mr Justice Hunt said YZ was hired by known criminal Cyril McGuinness because McGuinness knew YZ had the “capacity to terrorise and injure Mr Lunney” and could be “relied on to carry out the criminal enterprise”.

He said YZ has a previous conviction for impeding the apprehension of a murderer and from reports handed to the court, he said YZ appears to have been present when the murder happened and then helped to dispose of the body. YZ has many previous convictions, the judge said, including for burglary and theft.

Mr Justice Hunt said YZ inflicted most of Lunney’s serious injuries including knife wounds to his face and torso.

O’Brien, the judge said, was closely associated with YZ in these crimes, acted as an “assistant” to YZ and participated with YZ in a dry-run carried out the day prior to the abduction.

O’Brien was also the driver of the BMW used to ram Lunney’s car, the judge said, and had “assisted in inflicting the most serious injuries” on Mr Lunney.

It was O’Brien, the judge said, who identified the need for bleach to destroy forensic evidence.

Redmond, the judge said, had “no doubt” assisted at Drumbrade, where Lunney was assaulted, but his culpability is reduced because there is a doubt about whether he participated in the abduction.

Redmond assisted in a lesser capacity than O’Brien, the judge said, and was “under the malign influence of [YZ]“.

The judge said there was no doubt about Redmond’s involvement at Drumbrade and in leaving Lunney on the side of a country road.

Mr Justice Hunt said the relevant factors for sentencing included the harm done or intended to be done and the state of mind of the offender.

Aggravating factors in the case were clear, he said, and included the serious harm inflicted in a “deliberate, callous and vicious assault”.

Lunney’s injuries were, he said, the “calculated outcome” of YZ’s actions.

He added: “There was no mismatch between actions and consequences, the scarring was intended by him to permanently injure Mr Lunney in an exceptionally specific way.”

The abduction was carefully planned by a criminal organization and included the “deliberate and sinister” surveillance of Lunney and his family. Lunney was assaulted near his home and moved to a remote location to be tortured by his abductors.

Besides the “sickening violence”, he was stripped of his clothes and his “dignity”, the judge said.

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The purpose of these actions was to terrorise Lunney and others to make them “desist from lawful enterprise that was not to the taste of Mr McGuinness”, he said.

At the end of the ordeal, Lunney was “left for dead” on the side of the road, the judge said.

Mr Justice Hunt added: “We are in no doubt his life was in danger. He could have died from his injuries, from hypothermia or from being struck by a vehicle on a dark road.”

Mr Justice Hunt said the “highly organised and deliberate nature” of the crimes and the “calculated brutality” that had the “ulterior motive of striking fear and terror into all who hear of these crimes,” put this in the most serious category for offences of abduction and causing serious harm.

The only real issue, he said, was whether YZ and O’Brien’s offending was “so wholly exceptional as to justify a life sentence”.

The court had decided, he said, that although YZ and O’Brien were prepared to do “very dirty work”, the heaviest sentences should go to those who finance or benefit from these crimes.

Considering the pleas made in mitigation, he noted that YZ has a troubled background but said any sympathy for that is reduced by his offending.

He relied on his background as mitigation when he was sentenced for helping to dispose of a murdered body, the judge said, and could not rely on the same mitigation twice.

In relation to YZ and O’Brien, he said there is little reason to think they are capable of rehabilitation at this stage in their lives.

Redmond, he said, should get some allowance for his youth and absence of previous convictions and therefore the court decided to suspend the final three years of his 18-year sentence, on condition that he be of good behaviour.

Mr Justice Hunt said the court wanted to “express our admiration for Mr Lunney and the manner in which he composed himself during his ordeal and in giving evidence.”

He said the court extends its good wishes to MLunney and his family.

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Eoin Reynolds

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