Alleged mastermind of Kevin Lunney abduction dies of heart attack during police raid
The alleged mastermind of the brutal abduction and torture of businessman Kevin Lunney died of a heart attack when English police raided his “safe house” in the UK in a series of searches by three police forces this morning.
Mob boss Cyril McGuinness, who is well known to police on both sides of the Border as well as the UK and mainland Europe, died when armed police raided the property in the Derby area of England after getting the location of the secret hideout from gardai.
McGuinness had regarded where he was "lying low" as a “safe” house and believed that police had not known his whereabouts.
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Sources said that McGuinness “must have been completely shocked” when police kicked in the door, which was one of 18 locations searched in co-ordinated raids this morning by gardai, the PSNI and English police.
Gardai believe the Co Fermanagh thug nicknamed ‘Dublin Jimmy’ was the criminal who ordered the attack on respected businessman Mr Lunney.
He is thought to have been hired by another person, known as “The Paymaster” to form a gang to kidnap Mr Lunney and intimidate him and his fellow directors to resign from their posts in Quinn Holdings.
“This is a bizarre development but the information coming from England is that he simply suffered a heart attack when the raid happened and had not been restrained or tasered by officers in the course of the raid,” a senior source said.
The body which examines police conduct in the UK is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a prime suspect in the abduction of Kevin Lunney this morning.
McGuinness (53) suffered a suspected heart-attack after cops raided his safe-house and detained him in Buxton, Derbyshire after 7am this morning.
The major criminal, who was known as ‘Dublin Jimmy’, was rushed to hospital but died a short time later.
Gardai believe he was the man who ‘masterminded’ the abduction and assault on Mr Lunney in which his attackers left the QIH director for dead on September 17.
A spokesperson for the UK’s Independent Office for Police Conduct told Independent.ie that they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death..
“Following a referral from Derbyshire Constabulary we have started an investigation into the death of a man who was detained by their officers at an address in the Fairfield area of Buxton early today.
“We understand that the officers were executing a warrant at the property at around 7.30am when the man, aged in his 50s, became unwell,” the spokesman said.
“He was taken to a hospital where sadly he was later pronounced dead. We declared an independent investigation late this morning after we were contacted by the force and we have sent investigators to the property and to the police post incident procedure to begin gathering information,” the spokesman added
McGuinness, who was aged in his early 50’s, is from Co Fermanagh and has more than 50 convictions.
These include one in Belgium for leading a gang smuggling plant machinery into Ireland.
He was previously in charge of a gang responsible for a series of robberies from ATM machines around the country.
Mr Lunney, a 50-year-old father of six was abducted from his car near his home in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh at around 6.40pm that day.
He was allegedly assaulted at a second location, the same evening, before being left at the side of the road at Drumcoughill, Cornafean, Co Cavan sometime before 9pm.
The Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director had his neck cut with a blade during the ordeal. He also sustained a broken leg and some of his fingernails removed.
Gardaí, along with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Derbyshire Constabulary in England, carried out the searches this morning as part of a larger ongoing criminal investigation.
Members of An Garda Síochána searched a mix of domestic dwellings and business premises in five locations in Co Cavan, three locations in Co Longford and four locations in Dublin.
Their investigation, in conjunction with UK police services, also saw the PSNI search five locations in Northern Ireland the Derbyshire Constabulary search one further location in UK.
These searches are part of the evidence gathering stage, to progress the investigations into the abduction, false imprisonment and assault of Kevin Lunney on the September 17 of this year.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it is their “understanding” that a suspect in the Kevin Lunney abduction has died in the UK but that the matter is being pursued by authorities in England.
ACC Hamilton said that police in England were commissioned to search a property by the PSNI and that the death of a man was “regrettable” and could not comment further.
Mr Harris also told reporters at Garda Headquarters that he has signed off on a Joint Investigation Team to ensure increased cooperation between Gardai and the PSNI.
The Garda Commissioner said this will centre on the attacks on QIH and will investigate any future crimes as well as previous attacks on the business and its directors.
In a joint press conference with Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton of the PSNI he said that this was to ensure a “joint and robust” response to the attacks in a cooperative manner.
Asked if they were targeting the ‘paymaster’ bankrolling the attacks on QIH, ACC Hamilton said that their investigation was wide ranging.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris added that their investigation is multi faceted including the “motivation” which is being investigated.
Cyril McGuinness was regarded as being an extremely dangerous and ruthless criminal who has connections with organised crime across Europe.
He is an expert planner of crimes and masterminded at least 18 robberies of ATM machines using diggers in 2009 before he was extradited to Belgium over a €3.4m smuggling racket.
He used the proceeds of the ATM robberies as a nest egg after losing his legal bid to stop his extradition to Belgium which took place in August 2011.
However the gang was brought down by the garda organised crime unit with several members arrested during robberies and later convicted. Although McGuinness was questioned there was not enough evidence to bring charges.
McGuinness was one of the country’s top smuggler and was convicted in Belgium of running a €3.4m smuggling racket between 2006 and 2008.
He and his cronies stole 20 trucks, tractors and trailers from farms in Belgium and smuggled them into Ireland. He was nabbed after one of the machines was fitted with a tracker and led police to him.
When he was sent to jail in Belgium the theft of farm machinery in the Republic of Ireland fell by over 50% and gardai directly attributed this to the fact McGuinness was locked up.
McGuinness, who was once recruited by MI5, has links to the Continuity IRA has been on the garda and PSNI radars for over 25 years.
During the 1990s he ran a gang specialising in stealing farm machinery, diggers and other heavy machinery from building sites in England and shipping them to Ireland.
He once used a digger to drive over the top of a Mercedes car with his intended victim inside and he was convicted of attempted murder for that stunt.
He also served time for burning down the house of a man who owed him money and in 1997 he and another man pleaded guilty to 44 charges of illegal dumping.
Mr Lunney told BBC Northern Ireland’s ‘Spotlight’ programme earlier in the week how he was bundled into a car boot at knifepoint by a gang of three men. Mr Lunney went on to describe the torture he suffered during his attack.
He was in the boot when he overheard one of his captors talking on the phone, addressing someone as “boss”. After a hood was placed over his head, and he was led to a horsebox, his captors then told him they wanted him to resign from QIH, which he agreed to before the torture started.
“One of them started with the Stanley knife on each of my fingers... he started to run the Stanley knife under each nail quite hard and deep so each of them were bleeding a bit, deep enough that it was sore and painful,” he said.
The captors then poured bleach over Mr Lunney.
“That was very, very sore [because of the cuts] then he started with a cloth and started to rub my hands which were tied, rubbed them and rubbed them, really, really hard, and that was agony with the bleach,” he said.
“It was excruciating, the pain of the bleach – I was screaming, I think. Then they pulled me up and somebody said: ‘Have you done his face.’ Next thing there was a squirt of bleach in my face, into my eyes... there was a lot of fumes, I started to cough and almost passed out,” he said.
At this point, they told him again to resign from QIH, as well as the other directors.
“I said: ‘I’ll tell them to resign’. He said a number of times, ‘We know you, we have been watching you.’ At one stage he said: ‘We have been watching you, we have seen you with your little daughter with the GAA top and you are going to do what we say.’
“Then he said: ‘OK we believe you, but if you don’t we’ll be back, for you and all the family and everybody’s family.’”
Mr Lunney said his captors told him they “had to rough him up”.
“He says: ‘Hold out your leg’... next thing was he hit it... I think it was a either a baseball bat or a short fence post, and I heard it breaking and I roared, the pain was awful,” he said.
“He said to the other guy holding the torch, ‘Did that snap?’. He said no so he immediately hit it again, same place or close, and it was a hundred times worse the second time.”
As the investigation continues, An Garda Síochána has appealed to anyone who may have any information, no matter how insignificant it appears,to contact An Garda Síochána at Cavan Garda Station 049 4368800, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 25 00 25 or any Garda Station.