Monday 18 November 2019

Net closes on 'paymaster' financing gang behind Kevin Lunney abduction

  • Police recover significant evidence in raids across three countries
  • Gardaí, the PSNI and UK police searched 18 properties
  • Criminal suspected of organising attack suffered fatal heart attack during raid in Derbyshire
Kevin Lunney. Picture: BBC/PA
Kevin Lunney. Picture: BBC/PA

Tom Brady, Robin Schiller and Ken Foy

The net is closing on the ‘paymaster’ financing the gang behind the Kevin Lunney abduction after police recovered significant evidence in raids across three countries.

The criminal suspected of organising the attack, Cyril 'Dublin Jimmy' McGuinness (53), suffered a fatal heart attack when UK police kicked in the door of his 'safe house' in Buxton, Derbyshire, yesterday morning.

The property was one of 18 searched by gardaí, the PSNI and UK police in what has been described as a “valuable step in the evidence-gathering stage” of the probe.

And during a search of what McGuinness regarded as his 'safe house', officers recovered documents and electronic devices which could lead to a breakthrough. McGuinness became ill during the raid at 7.30am. He collapsed and later died in hospital. He is thought to have suffered a heart attack after Derbyshire police officers, who were acting at the request of the police forces here, burst in through his front door.

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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

McGuinness had believed he could "lie low" in the house in Buxton until the investigation back here had scaled down.

One officer said McGuinness had been taken completely by surprise and there was no time for him to shred any of the potential evidence.

McGuinness, who was known as 'Dublin Jimmy', had more than 50 criminal convictions in countries including Ireland, the UK, Serbia and Belgium.

Police seized a large amount of documentation as well as mobile phones and a laptop. These will now be examined as gardaí and the PSNI build up a case to bring criminal charges against suspected members of the McGuinness-led gang and to unmask the man who has been referred to by Quinn Industrial Holdings executives as the 'paymaster'.

McGuinness is understood to have been hiding out in Buxton for a number of weeks.

Originally from Swords, Dublin, and later from Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, he had been regarded by gardaí as the prime suspect for the abduction of Mr Lunney.

Victim: Businessman Kevin Lunney has spoken out after being abducted from near his home and tortured. Photo: PA
Victim: Businessman Kevin Lunney has spoken out after being abducted from near his home and tortured. Photo: PA

Those targeted included McGuinness, suspected of orchestrating the abduction and assault of Mr Lunney, as well as those suspected of direct involvement in the barbaric attack.

This includes two criminals from Dublin's north-inner city, one of whom is a suspect in a recent city murder, who had their homes searched as part of the major investigation being led by gardaí in the Cavan/Monaghan Division.

They are believed to have been hired to carry out the attack by McGuinness.

More than 100 officers were involved in the searches in Dublin, Longford, Cavan, Fermanagh as well as Derbyshire.

No arrests were made yesterday as part of the investigation into the assault on Kevin Lunney on September 17.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said they were investigating a number of facets to the crime including the motivation behind it.

The Garda chief, speaking at the organisation's headquarters alongside the PSNI's Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton yesterday, said: "A series of 12 searches has been undertaken today again to advance the investigation of facets of this crime and that includes motivation."

A joint Garda-PSNI team was also announced to provide a "robust" investigation into the QIH attacks.

Mr Lunney (50), a father of six, was abducted from his Co Fermanagh home before being brought to a container in Cavan where he was beaten, sliced and had bleached poured over him in an ordeal lasting over two hours.

The ombudsman for the UK police has also confirmed it is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Cyril McGuinness.

The raids carried out yesterday were also welcomed by QIH, which said it marked "an important milestone in bringing those involved in attacks on QIH staff to justice".

The directors have also refused an offer to meet members of the Quinn family, who have repeatedly condemned the attacks. Seán Quinn Jnr made the offer to meet QIH executives, in a statement to BBC 'Spotlight'.

Irish Independent

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