Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney was subjected to an “ordeal of callous brutality and gratuitous violence” designed to terrify and intimidate him and to leave him with injuries he would never forget, a barrister has told the Special Criminal Court.
Sean Guerin SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions began his closing arguments to the three-judge, non-jury court on Tuesday morning. He said the charge of causing serious harm, which the four accused deny, is borne out by the injuries suffered by Mr Lunney including knife wounds to his face and chest and a broken leg suffered following two blows of a blunt instrument.
Mr Guerin said: “In this case there is no cause for dwelling on the legal features of those charges. The account given of the ordeal was a remarkable one, mostly for what he said happened to him, which was an ordeal of callous brutality and gratuitous violence inflicted with calculated ease, almost calmly, and with a distinct sense of purpose.”
He said the offences may have been carried out to “service the ends of other persons” but there was no doubt what their purpose was: “To terrify and intimidate Mr Lunney and to leave him with injuries which would never allow him to forget the ordeal or the purpose it sought to achieve.”
A 40-year-old man named as YZ, 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 (68), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan have all pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17th, 2019.
The court, he said, should be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of the four accused having seen evidence of the "striking and detailed pattern of movement" and the connections between the accused, McGuinness and locations and vehicles that were "intimately connected to the offences".
Three of the accused, Alan O'Brien, Darren Redmond and YZ were directly connected to a Kangoo van in which DNA matching Mr Lunney's was found in an area of suspected blood staining, counsel said.
Mr Guerin said the DNA evidence was "utterly incapable of explanation by any innocent circumstances" and rejected a suggestion that the DNA was "put there by foul means," saying it is "hardly even worth commenting on". He described it as a "fanciful or frivolous proposition that is not capable of amounting to a reasonable doubt."
Luke O'Reilly, he said, was connected to the offences by his ownership of the yard where Mr Lunney was held and assaulted and by his connection to Cyril McGuinness. It was a request by McGuinness for Mr O'Reilly to get bleach, to destroy forensic evidence, which provided the key to the investigation, Mr Guerin said. Gardai discovered Mr O'Reilly had bought bleach at the relevant time and also discovered a connection to McGuinness through his phone records.
Mr Guerin opened by saying Mr Lunney had shown a remarkable ability to say what happened to him with "extraordinary poise" and "care and considerable precision". He had left the court with a "compelling and very detailed account" that allows other evidence to be assessed by reference to Mr Lunney's account.
Counsel said the charge of causing serious harm is borne out by the injuries suffered by Mr Lunney including knife wounds to his face and chest and a broken leg suffered following two blows of a blunt instrument.
Mr Guerin said: "In this case there is no cause for dwelling on the legal features of those charges. The account given of the ordeal was a remarkable one, mostly for what he said happened to him, which was an ordeal of callous brutality and gratuitous violence inflicted with calculated ease, almost calmly, and with a distinct sense of purpose."
He said the offences may have been carried out to "service the ends of other persons" but there was no doubt what their purpose was: "To terrify and intimidate Mr Lunney and to leave him with injuries which would never allow him to forget the ordeal or the purpose it sought to achieve."
Serious harm, counsel added, is injury which creates a risk of death or physical impairment or disfigurement. Counsel reminded the court that Mr Lunney had said his assailants told him: "We are going to let you go, but we are going to have to rough you up first."
Risk of death
Mr Guerin said that the court couldn't discount the risk of death given that Mr Lunney was hypothermic when discovered beaten and covered in blood on a country road at night wearing only his boxer shorts. He added: "It is clear that serious harm, serious disfigurement and the loss of the function of the leg were the deliberate purpose of the assaults on Mr Lunney." The false imprisonment charge, he said, doesn't require anything more to be said.
Mr Guerin said the prosecution is not concerned with why Mr Lunney was assaulted, although there was evidence that it related to his position with QIH and to ongoing litigation. He added: "The prosecution case does not depend on connecting them [the accused] to those issues by way of interest or motive, or to any prior incidents or to the history of QIH or to Mr Lunney Lunney personally."
It appears, he said, that they were acting on behalf of others. The timing of the arrival of a BMW and an Audi at Mr Lunney's home at precisely the time he arrived suggests, he said, that he was observed over a period of time or that he was being observed that day or even that an insider in QIH was feeding information about his movements.
He reminded the court that one of his assailants had referenced Mr Lunney's daughter wearing a GAA jersey at a recent event, suggesting he was being watched in the days and weeks prior to the offences. He said: "The commission of these offences required an organisational task of considerable sophistication in terms of planning and locations, not just for the commission of the offences but for the storage of vehicles in advance to make them readily available." He pointed out that an Audi and a Transit van used by the attackers have never been found and that not every question the court might wish to have answered has been answered.
Counsel added: "The prosecution doesn’t pretend to have answers to all of those questions or to be able to tell the complete story, beginning and middle and end, of the criminal enterprise focused on Mr Lunney. The focus is on who. Who abducted and imprisoned Mr Lunney? The prosecution says the answer to that is [YZ], Mr O'Brien and Mr Redmond." Mr O'Reilly, he said, made it possible by providing essential support.
Mr Lunney has told the court that he was bundled into the boot of a car near his home and driven to a container where he was threatened and told to resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings.
His abductors cut him with a Stanley knife, 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.
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.
Mr Guerin is continuing his speech before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, and Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.