Thursday 21 November 2019

'Dublin Jimmy' profiled: The alleged mastermind of the attack on Kevin Lunney had links to organised crime and terrorism

Cyril McGuinness died of a heart attack after English police raided his 'safe house' in the UK

Cyril McGuinness, also know as 'Dublin Jimmy'.
Cyril McGuinness, also know as 'Dublin Jimmy'.
Cyril McGuinness aka "Dublin Jimmy"

Tom Brady and Robin Schiller

International gangster Cyril McGuinness has been on the radar of police in 11 jurisdictions as a serious criminal with terrorist links during the past two decades.

McGuinness (53) - from Teemore Road, Derrylin, Co Fermanagh - was well known to police forces on both sides of the Border and in the UK as a result of his involvement in a wide range of crimes.

He is the alleged mastermind of the brutal abduction and torture of QIH businessman Kevin Lunney.

Mr Lunney reading a message of support. Photo: BBC Spotlight/BBC/PA Wire

McGuinness died of a heart attack after English police raided his “safe house” in the UK in a series of searches by three police forces this morning.

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READ MORE: Alleged mastermind of Kevin Lunney abduction dies of heart attack during police raid

McGuinness was originally from Swords, hence the nickname 'Dublin Jimmy'.

Apart from his links to international organised crime, he was also associated with members of the Provisional IRA over the years and, later, dissident republican groups.

But his exploits as the mastermind of a huge racket in stolen construction and farm machinery also brought him to the attention of police forces in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Poland, Lithuania, Spain and Serbia.

It led to the creation of Operation Segund, which resulted in the seizure of stolen plant and machinery worth €7m.

The Garda-led operation, which put his international gang out of business, was credited for a 50p fall in tractor thefts here in 2011.

McGuinness, who was known to some associates as “Dublin Jimmy”, was finally locked up in Belgium. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for his part in the theft of tractors and trailer units.

McGuinness was detained by gardaí on a European arrest warrant and his extradition to Belgium to serve his sentence, after absconding when granted bail, was ordered by the High Court in Dublin.

He had been a key target of the Garda stolen vehicles unit for the previous seven years.

Co-operation between the gardaí and Belgian police resulted in the seizure in the port of Antwerp of seven vehicles that had been stolen here but were about to be shipped out to Africa. A further four vehicles were found in the English port of Tilbury as they were also being readied for shipment.

The gang also stole 20 trucks and cranes in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2006 and 2007 and brought them to Ireland.

Four years earlier, McGuinness had been convicted of 44 charges in relation to the illegal dumping of 28,000 tonnes of waste from the Republic in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The court heard that he was involved in one of the North’s biggest crime gangs, which had made €2.6m profits in 20 months from the waste smuggling.

He was given a suspended prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to 22 charges relating to the illegal transport of waste.

McGuinness also headed up a gang responsible for a spate of at least 11 ATM robberies, mostly in the Border region, in the late 2000s. Spurred on by their successes, the gang became more daring and extended their operations into Munster.

Some of the gang were caught in November 2010 in Castleisland, Co Kerry, where they had failed to take away the ATM with €234,000 in cash after the bucket of the excavator was too small to lift the ATM onto the back of a trailer.

Two men from Co Down were arrested by gardaí following a chase and subsequently sentenced to six years' imprisonment.

McGuinness was arrested in Listowel and questioned about the botched raid.

An European arrest warrant was issued for him in 2008. In April of that year, he was stopped by Serbian police, near the Croatian border, and when they realized he was wanted he was taken to Belgrade and extradited to Bruges.

McGuinness was charged in relation to the machinery thefts, but left the country after being granted bail. He was sentenced in his absence and eventually caught by the gardaí and returned to serve his sentence.

Those who knew Cyril McGuinness from a young age described him as “trouble from when he left the womb”.

He initially went to school at St Colmcilles in Swords where, even in junior infants, he had a reputation for punching the other children.

“He was always a bully - even in junior and senior infants he would be lumping the head of other fellas," said one source who grew up with McGuinness.

“Cyril was always bigger than the other kids and seemed to enjoy beating his classmates. He caused awful trouble for gardaí in Swords when he was younger and clearly kept it up right until his death.

“There was more than 40 in the class, but he stood out. He didn’t go to school much, but when he did he would be a nuisance," he added.

READ MORE: 'Pain of bleach was excruciating, - they carved QIH into my chest' - Kevin Lunney

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