Monday 18 November 2019

Dublin Jimmy: McGuinness was known to police in 11 jurisdictions

Criminal: Cyril McGuinness was the main suspect in the kidnap and torture of Kevin Lunney. Photo: Collins
Criminal: Cyril McGuinness was the main suspect in the kidnap and torture of Kevin Lunney. Photo: Collins
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

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

McGuinness (54), from Teemore Road, Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, was well known to police forces on both sides of the Border and in Britain as a result of his involvement in a wide range of crimes.

Apart from his links to international organised crime, he was also associated over the years with members of the Provisional IRA 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 in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Lithuania, Spain and Serbia.

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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 50pc fall in tractor thefts here in 2011.

McGuinness, who was known to some associates as "Dublin Jimmy", was finally locked up in Belgium where he was sentenced to seven years 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 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 was 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 was told 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 its operations into Munster.

Some of the gang members 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 realised 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.

Irish Independent

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