Gardaí investigating abduction and assault of Kevin Lunney forensically examining container in Cavan

Gardaí investigating abduction and assault of Kevin Lunney forensically examining container in Cavan
A large section of the road between Ballinagh and Lough Gowna in Co Cavan was closed off on Sunday as gardaí continued their search for evidence. Picture: Lorraine Teevan

Update 6.05pm: Gardaí are forensically examining a container in rural Co Cavan that may have been where company executive Kevin Lunney was beaten and tortured.

As part of intense investigations by the Cavan-Monaghan Divisional Search team and the Garda Technical Bureau, officers identified a container in a local scrapyard and began a search before lunchtime on Sunday.

The location is understood to be close to searches of a house, farmyard and business premises by gardaí last Friday.

Members of the Technical Bureau are conducting a forensic and DNA examination of the container to check for evidence of violence and blood.

It has not yet been confirmed as the location Mr Lunney was tortured.

A Garda statement issued at lunchtime on Sunday said: “Gardaí in Cavan are carrying out further a search as part of the investigation into the assault of Kevin Lunney on Tuesday 17 September. Local Gardaí are being assisted by the Cavan Monaghan Divisional Search unit and the Technical Bureau from Garda Headquarters.”

Mr Lunney, chief operating officer of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), was abducted on Tuesday evening after a gang rammed his car close to his home in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh.

The 50-year-old was bundled into a car and taken across the border in Cavan and tortured.

The father-of-six had his leg broken and received stab wounds to his face, chest and hands.

He was subsequently taken to Drumgoughill, Cornafean, west of Cavan town, and dumped on the road. He was found by a local farmer just before 9pm.

PSNI officers described his injuries as "life changing".

Mr Lunney had been doused in industrial bleach by his attackers in a bid to remove any potential DNA evidence.

Gardaí have gathered CCTV footage which identified a man purchasing bleach during Mr Lunney's abduction.

“A person of interest was buying a quantity of industrial-strength bleach at an unusual time,” said one security source.

Kevin Lunny. Picture: Lorraine Teevan
Kevin Lunny. Picture: Lorraine Teevan

Detectives are following a line of inquiry as to possible suspects behind the abduction and assault.

They are believed to be criminals, with connections to paramilitaries.

No arrests have been made yet, but garda sources stress investigators need to gather any available evidence, including possible forensic evidence, before taking such a step.

Five senior executives of QIH, including Mr Lunney, received a death-threat letter in early May in which a gang threatened to impose a “permanent solution for at least one” of them.

After the abduction, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris described the attack as a “very vicious assault” and said it was a “considerable step up” on previous incidents of intimidation against QIH directors.

Meanwhile, Derrylin parish priest Father Gerard Alwill urged those involved in the attacks to “stop before someone gets killed”.

“Not only does this barbaric act run contrary to our Christian values, but it also runs totally against our own natural human values.

“What happened was totally abhorrent to all decent people,” he said.

“To plan and carry out such a savage attack runs totally contrary to every sinew of human decency that is within us.

I, as an individual, and we as a community, are both horrified and disgusted by the brutality of this attack and by the sheer heartlessness that could inflict such suffering on the wife, the children and the wider family of the individual concerned.

“Over the last few days I’ve sensed a growing feeling of anger, resentment and revulsion among the members of our community over what has happened.

“Those who have spoken to me have mentioned their sense of shock, their sense of outrage and their sense of disbelief that such a terrible thing could happen here.

“Many feel helpless and afraid, with no-one to speak on their behalf.

“In the name of God, and in the name of our community, we ask these people to stop the violence now. There has to be a better way of resolving these issues.

“In the name of God – stop before somebody gets killed.”

- additional reporting by Press Association

Earlier:

- By Digital Desk staff

Gardaí are continuing their investigation into the abduction and serious assault of businessman Kevin Lunney.

They carried out a further search today.

A statement from the gardaí read: "Local Gardaí are being assisted by the Cavan Monaghan Divisional Search unit and the Technical Bureau from Garda Headquarters."

At mass in Derrylin earlier, Fr Gerard Alwill appealed to those responsible to stop the violence.

The attack on Mr Lunney saw the Chief Operating Officer taken to another location and attacked before being dumped hours later on the side of a road in Cavan with what were said to be “life-changing” injuries.

Last Friday, staff at Quinn Industrial Holdings took part in a solidarity rally with local residents.

The staff condemned the attack saying it was "not only an attack on Kevin, but on the entire staff and community."

Workers and people from the community attended a solidarity rally today (Brian Lawless/PA)
Workers and people from the community attended a solidarity rally today (Brian Lawless/PA)

"This attack is the latest in a campaign of intimidation against the directors and senior management of QIH.

"As a staff group, we utterly condemn this and all previous physical assaults, arson attacks and intimidation on members of staff."

The staff called for the attackers "to stop this campaign", saying "the people who are perpetrating these acts do not represent us, or our views."

They added: "We demand an end to this reign of terror, to all intimidation and attacks on management and their properties.

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