The “ringleader” in the abduction of Kevin Lunney can be named after a court lifted an order granting him anonymity.
Dublin man Alan Harte was handed a 30-year prison sentence last month after he was convicted of falsely imprisoning and assaulting the businessman in 2019.
Harte, who the Special Criminal Court heard has 180 previous convictions, was referred to as ‘YZ’ during the trial after the media was banned from identifying him.
His lawyers yesterday attempted to have an order granting his anonymity extended at the High Court.
However Mr Justice Charles Meenan said it was part of the criminal process that those convicted of offences be named, bar in certain exceptional circumstances.
Lifting the order, he said Harte’s case did not come under one of those exceptions and there was no reason to continue it.
Mr Justice Meenan added that Harte could make any application he needs to the courts to have safeguards put in place to prevent him suffering any prejudice in any forthcoming trial.
Harte, of Island Quay Apartments in East Wall, Dublin, is currently serving a 30-year prison term for playing a central role in the abduction and attack on Kevin Lunney.
The Special Criminal Court accepted Harte was “heavily involved” before, during and after the crime, and that he was the driver of the Audi used to abduct the businessman from his Fermanagh home.
It also found he was responsible for inflicting the most serious injuries on Mr Lunney while he was being held against his will in a horse box in a Cavan yard.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said the evidence formed a linked pattern of sufficient strength to displace coincidence and point unequivocally to his involvement in these crimes.
During the sentencing hearing in December, he said Harte played a leading role and was a “ringleader”.
Mr Justice Hunt also said it was likely Harte had participated in the prior surveillance of Mr Lunney, having alluded “in a sinister way” to the surveillance of his daughter.
The court also found that Harte had had a close business and personal relationship with “one of the principal organisers” – Cyril McGuinness.
Evidence was given prior to sentencing that he had 180 previous convictions, with 60 of these for road traffic offences, a “substantial” amount for theft and one relating to burglary.
The most serious conviction was for impeding the apprehension or prosecution of a person who had committed a murder in 2009. Harte received a six-year prison term, suspended for three years, for this offence in 2014.
Defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC told Harte’s sentencing hearing before the non-jury court that his client had a difficult upbringing.
He said his father, who later died following an assault, would take him on shoplifting sprees as a child to raise money to drink.
“It’s not too crude an observation to say that if in some way this project had succeeded, there was never going to be a seat on the board for (Harte),” Mr O’Higgins said.
His client was “the muscle” who did the “dirty work”, had dirt on his hands, and must pay for those dirty hands with the appropriate level of punishment, Mr O’Higgins added.
The prosecution’s case against Harte relied on circumstantial evidence including his movements along with a Renault Kangoo van linked to the crime and DNA.
Evidence was given of his contact with Cyril ‘Dublin Jimmy’ McGuinness, the criminal who is suspected of orchestrating the abduction.
Mr Justice Hunt said the evidence formed a linked pattern of sufficient strength to displace coincidence and point unequivocally to his involvement in these crimes.
Harte’s co-accused, Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road and Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, both in East Wall, Dublin, were also found guilty of falsely imprisoning and causing serious harm to Mr Lunney (52).
O’Brien and Redmond were jailed for 25 and 18 years respectively with the last three years of Redmond’s sentence suspended on conditions.
All three have since lodged appeals against their convictions and lengthy sentences.