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 speech to the three-judge, non-jury court on Tuesday morning. He said the evidence heard over eight weeks had shown "intricate and detailed connections" between the four accused and Cyril McGuinness, now deceased and alleged by the prosecution to have organised the offences against Mr Lunney.
The court 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", he said.
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 the DNA was "put there by foul means," saying it was "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. Gardaí discovered Mr O'Reilly had bought bleach at the relevant time and also discovered a connection to McGuinness through his phone records.
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 17, 2019.
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."
He was then struck twice on the leg with considerable force with a blunt instrument, causing a fracture of the tibia and what Mr Lunney described as "unreal pain". Mr Lunney said he felt the leg snap following the first blow but was struck again.
The same man who broke his leg then told Mr Lunney, "we have to mark you", and used a Stanley knife to cut him repeatedly on both sides of the face in a "visible and lasting way" before taking the knife to his chest, where he scored the letters QIH.
Those injuries, Mr Guerin said, meet the requirements for a charge of causing serious harm by disfigurement. The fracture of the tibia, resulting in Mr Lunney being unable to walk for a period, also amounts to serious harm, he said.
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 was 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 personally."
It appeared they were acting on behalf of others, he said. 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 left work on September 17, 2019, at 18.30pm and drove the five to seven-minute journey to his home at Derrylin where an Audi and BMW had arrived at almost exactly 18.31, counsel said.
The BMW rammed Mr Lunney's car as he drove up the laneway towards his house. Mr Lunney described the driver of the BMW as being of similar build to himself but taller and more athletic with short, light, brown or blonde hair. He was wearing dark clothing with an Under Armour logo near the waist. The second person who emerged from the BMW was slimmer and the third man, who had been driving the Audi, was older, maybe in his mid-40s and a bit heavier and slightly taller.
Mr Guerin asked the court to look at CCTV footage showing Mr O'Brien, Mr Redmond and YZ together outside an apartment complex in Dublin 3 on the day of the abduction. He said: "The general appearance of these individuals could hardly have been better described by a person looking directly at the CCTV as it was by Mr Lunney."
Mr Lunney said he was bundled into the boot of what he believed was an Audi A4 and driven for 40 to 50 minutes. Counsel said the court can trace from CCTV at various locations a car that "looks very like an Audi A4" making its way from Swanlinbar through Killeshandra and Ballinagh.
Mr Lunney said he was about 40 to 50 minutes in the boot of the Audi car, which, counsel said, ties in with the length of time of the journey. Mr Lunney also described overhearing a phone call in which the driver of the Audi said: "Boss, this man resisted and we had to hit him."
Mr Guerin said there was no phone record showing contact between anyone in the car and Cyril McGuinness at that time but, he said, what that shows is that the prosecution is unable to say who the call was to or what phone was used. It does not prove, he said, that neither Mr O'Brien, Mr O'Reilly or Mr Redmond made the call.
Mr Lunney then described being taken to a yard with a grass surface. He was put in a blue trailer with a narrow walk up to it and a step. Inside, he was threatened and told to resign from Quinn Industrial Holdings.
At some point, the question of getting bleach arose and two of the three assailants left for about 15 minutes. Mr Lunney described being in the trailer for about 45 minutes and then being driven in a Transit van for another 20 minutes before being dumped on the side of the road.
The prosecution, Mr Guerin said, compared the detailed account given by Mr Lunney of how long his ordeal lasted to the movements of vehicles seen on CCTV in the area. Given the description of the yard by Mr Lunney and the photographs the court has seen of the yard at Drumbrade, owned by Mr O'Reilly, counsel said there could be no doubt that was where Mr Lunney was held.
Blood with DNA matching Mr Lunney's was also found in a blue horse box at the yard and, Mr Guerin said, it was a striking feature that a white trailer appeared to have been recently placed in front of the blue horse box to hide it from view.
Mr Guerin said the defence had raised the proposition that the gate to the yard was unlocked and could have been accessed by anybody. Preparation and use of the yard for the purpose that was intended, he said, would have required not fleeting access but repeat visits, the storing and moving of items and preparation to make sure it was suitable on the day and that they would not be interrupted or interfered with.
He said there is also evidence the Audi was stored there the night before the abduction and that the blue horse box was partially cleaned following the abduction of Mr Lunney.
He said this offence was well-prepared and required a level of access "that would be difficult to accomplish without the knowledge of the owner of the yard, Mr O'Reilly".
He added: "It seems not merely unlikely but really impossible that a mere trespasser could have accomplished all of those things."
The decision to get bleach, Mr Guerin said, was possibly a moment of improvisation as a result of Mr Lunney putting up a struggle when his attackers first tried to take him from his car and force him into the Audi.
Mr Lunney said two of his attackers left the trailer and phone records show that at 19.52, YZ phoned McGuinness who then phoned Mr O'Reilly.
Mr O'Reilly, counsel said, was then seen on CCTV buying bleach from Lynch's Gala in Killydoon, having travelled towards his home before turning around to drive to Killydoon. Counsel further submitted that Mr O'Reilly has no explanation for why he had earlier had a four-minute call with McGuinness at "almost exactly the time Mr Lunney is being brought to the yard to be tortured".
Counsel said that there was no doubt that phones attributed to YZ, Mr Redmond and McGuinness actually belonged to them.
Location data from YZ's phone, counsel said, shows him traveling south on the N55 as Mr O'Reilly was traveling north on the same road with the bleach, both men having been in touch with Cyril McGuinness during that same 15-minute period. Mr Guerin suggested Mr O'Reilly and YZ met on the road and YZ took the bleach.
Mr Guerin reminded the court of evidence that when gardaí arrived at Mr O'Reilly's home with a warrant on September 20, 2019, he told gardaí: "I know why you are here, you are here because I bought that bleach."
He said that given Mr O'Reilly's prior state of knowledge, you would expect him to have a reasonably accurate account of his movements in and around purchasing the bleach. "That is not the case at all," he said.
Mr Guerin said phone location data and CCTV showed Mr O'Reilly was wrong when he said he spent an hour in his yard working on a tractor battery before going to Lynch's to buy bleach. Mr Guerin said Mr O'Reilly also appeared to be anxious to explain why after the purchase of bleach he travelled north on the N55 rather than to his home to the south of Killydoon.
He said the combination of Mr O'Reilly being unable to accurately account for his movements before buying the bleach and his desire to give a reason for traveling north from Killydoon afterwards "shows the consciousness of guilt and a desire to explain away the incriminating fact of his traveling north from Killydoon after the phone call from Cyril McGuinness".
Mr Guerin also pointed to the evidence of gardaí, who searched Mr O'Reilly's home and found multiple bottles of Domestos but none containing any bleach. He said: "It seems unlikely to the point of stretching all credulity that a bottle of bleach can have been emptied in those three days."
The only explanation, Mr Guerin said, is that he didn't bring the bleach home but gave it to YZ on the road between Killydoon and Drumbrade.
Mr Guerin said CCTV evidence showed Mr O'Brien and YZ walking into an apartment block car park on September 16 shortly before a Renault Kangoo leaves. Both men were seen "with absolute clarity" on CCTV in an Applegreen service station in Virginia, Co Cavan, later that day. On the same day at 12.10pm, YZ left a message for Mr O'Brien and two minutes later called Mr Redmond and made repeated efforts to call Mr Redmond until eventually connecting at 13.30.
The Kangoo and YZ's phone, counsel said, can then be traced marching "step by step" together to Cavan and back to Dublin that night. As YZ and Mr O'Brien made their way towards areas of particular interest in the case they "check in with Mr McGuinness to update him on their progress," counsel said.
The journey, he said, continues to Kinawley at 17.26 and Derrylin, close to Mr Lunney's home. On the same day, Mr Guerin said, a black Audi is seen on the move. Cyril McGuinness had purchased the same Audi on August 6, 2019, but the court has heard he used a false name and address.
That evening, Mr Guerin said there was a "cluster of calls", with YZ calling McGuinness and McGuinness calling Mr O'Reilly.
He said: "That, we say, is a crucial interaction because again it would be a remarkable coincidence if in addition to having to speak to each other for four minutes the following evening at almost precisely the time Mr Lunney is being delivered to Drumbrade, that at precisely the time [YZ] and Mr O'Brien are making their way in the area of Drumbrade on the evening before, Mr McGuinness had to speak to Mr O’Reilly."
Mr Guerin said the journey on the 16th may have been a "dry run" or an operation to put vehicles in place. He said there was a "striking similarity" between the journey travelled to Derrylin and Ballinagh and other areas of interest on the 16th and 17th. He said: "As [YZ] is navigating his way around those quiet roads, he is speaking to Mr McGuinness and Mr McGuinness is getting assistance from Mr O’Reilly."
An e-flow motorway toll tag belonging to the Audi bought by McGuinness was found in YZ's home. During Garda interviews following arrest, YZ said he took the tag from the Renault Kangoo van. Mr Guerin said the tag was evidence that YZ's presence in Cavan on the 16th can be linked to both the Audi and the Kangoo.
He said it was "entirely consistent" with the possibility that Mr O'Brien drove the Audi on the 16th, took the e-flow tag out of it and put it into the Kangoo, where YZ later removed it and brought it into his home.
On September 17, Mr Guerin said YZ again made repeated efforts to contact Mr Redmond and succeeded about 30 minutes before the Kangoo was captured leaving a car park in Dublin 3 at 12.25pm.
At around the same time, YZ had a five-minute phone conversation with Mr McGuinness. CCTV confirmed, counsel said, that Mr O'Brien was present. He said the prosecution further relies on Mr O'Brien's refusal to give an alternative explanation as to his movements on that day when questioned by gardaí.
Mr Redmond's presence in the van on the way to Cavan is supported, counsel said, by location data from his phone and the presence of his DNA on a bar behind the driver's seat that was recovered by forensic analysis in October 2019.
The Kangoo was seized, Mr Guerin said, on October 23 after it was driven by Mr O'Brien to a yard outside Drogheda, Co Louth. It was later destroyed by a fire at a storage facility in Cavan.
Mr Guerin said defence barristers had complained the fire prevented them from carrying out their own examinations. He said in many cases it is not possible to carry out subsequent examinations of crime scenes, including cases where trace evidence is found in a person's home or on a deceased's body.
He said the presence of Mr Lunney's DNA in an area of probable blood staining on a sliding door in the back of the Kangoo "relates directly and clearly to the actual account given by Mr Lunney".
He said Mr Lunney was bleeding heavily from the face and chest when his attackers put him in the back of a Transit van and drove him to Drumcoghill. One of his assailants put his hand on Mr Lunney's head and pushed him towards a ditch before they drove off.
Mr Guerin said the evidence showed that within a short time of "depositing Mr Lunney", the Kangoo was making its return journey to Dublin.
Mr Guerin suggested Mr Redmond was in the back of the Kangoo, having put his hand on Mr Lunney's head where it was heavily bleeding. In the dark, he deposited the blood where it was found on a metal panel that would be used to close the door, counsel said.
"That relates directly and clearly to the account given by Mr Lunney," counsel said. "It fits perfectly and there is no other rational explanation for Mr Lunney's DNA being in that vehicle in that way."
The DNA findings were "utterly incapable of explanation by any innocent circumstances and they are, remarkably, entirely consistent with what one's expectations would be if the prosecution case is true", counsel said.
Mr Guerin further submitted that a suggestion the DNA evidence was "put there by foul means" was "hardly even worth commenting on." He said it was a suggestion with no basis and no reason to think was true. He added: "It is the sort of fanciful or frivolous proposition that is not capable of amounting to a reasonable doubt."
Mr Guerin also asked the court to infer from the refusal of YZ to answer questions about his connection to Mr McGuinness. He said that at every step of the way YZ and Mr McGuinness were "intimately connected" to one another and to vehicles and locations used in the offences against Mr Lunney.
He said there were many examples of the "intricate and detailed connections" showing a striking and detailed pattern of movement between the accused men and Mr McGuinness and the locations connected to the offences against Mr Lunney. He said: "The court can have no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion, beyond reasonable doubt, that those circumstances point only and inevitably to the conclusion of guilt in respect of the four accused."
Three of them, he said, had a direct connection to the Kangoo van on the day of the offences and Mr Lunney's DNA was found in the back. The movements of YZ's and Mr Redmond's phones and their connection to Mr O'Brien show their involvement, he said.
He said the court should arrive at the "inevitable conclusion" that the four were under the instruction of McGuinness and that he was the "hub" around which the conspiracy evolved.
He concluded: "In those circumstances, I say this is one of those cases in which the combination of circumstantial evidence points to no other conclusion than that each of the four accused are guilty of the offences as charged."