Tuesday 22 October 2019

Quinn chief Kevin Lunney stabbed and tortured after car rammed

Victim doused in bleach to destroy DNA evidence

Kevin Lunney sustained 'life changing' injuries after being abducted
Kevin Lunney sustained 'life changing' injuries after being abducted

Luke Byrne, Paul Williams, Tom Brady and Shane Phelan

A gang with paramilitary connections is believed to be behind the brutal abduction and torture of a businessman who has been left with life-changing injuries.

Kevin Lunney (50), the chief operating officer of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), had his leg broken in two places with an iron bar, was stabbed with a knife across his face, neck and hands and had a number of fingernails cut off in the terrifying ordeal.

His captors then tried unsuccessfully to cut Mr Lunney’s clothes off his body, stabbing him in the body as they did so. The Irish Independent can reveal a balaclava was then placed over his head and bleach poured over him in an apparent attempt to destroy DNA evidence.

The father of six was later bundled into a van before being dumped on a roadside at Cornafean, Co Cavan.

A passer-by found him badly injured but conscious at a rural crossroads at 9pm and he was rushed to hospital.

Mr Lunney’s ordeal began when his car was rammed off the road close to his home in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, at 6.40pm on Tuesday as he was driving from QIH headquarters at Derrylin.

Sources have revealed that the attack appears to have been organised to coincide with an annual board meeting.

As soon as gardaí and the PSNI were alerted, officers were dispatched to the homes of four other senior executives with the company.

The company’s US-based bankers and bond holders who were to attend the meeting were immediately advised not to travel.

Some who had just arrived in Ireland took the first flight back to the US. John McCartin, the chairman of QBRC, the parent company of Quinn Industrial Holdings, told the Irish Independent how he and his fellow directors feared the worst for their colleague.

Terrifying: Members of the PSNI near a lane way leading to the home of Kevin Lunney, in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Terrifying: Members of the PSNI near a lane way leading to the home of Kevin Lunney, in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers

"The first I knew that this had happened was when a local garda came to my house to check were we OK and told me then that Kevin had been abducted," said the former Fine Gael councillor, who lives near Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.

"For well over two hours, we did not know if our colleague and friend was alive or dead. It was decided to advise those travelling from the US for our board meeting that it was best that they turned back."

John McCartin spoke of worry for his colleague. Picture: Mark Condren
John McCartin spoke of worry for his colleague. Picture: Mark Condren

One of the men who found Mr Lunney half-naked at the crossroads told the Irish Independent of his horror.

The man, a contractor who was working locally, stayed with Mr Lunney for about an hour after happening upon him at about 9pm. He said the victim was able to recount some of what had happened, but could "barely talk".

Kevin Lunney
Kevin Lunney

"He was there only with his boxer shorts on, his feet were sticking out into the road," the man said. "At first we thought he had been hit by a car, He told us who he was, he said he had been taken by men in balaclavas and beaten."

Mr McCartin and other senior executives at QIH have received several death threats over the past four years.

In February, Mr Lunney had his nose broken when he was assaulted on a street in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

Boiling water was thrown over Dara O'Reilly, QIH chief financial officer, at a filling station. In a separate incident, Mr O'Reilly's car was set alight outside his family home.

A threatening letter sent to the directors, and seen by the Irish Independent, warns of "implementing a permanent solution for at least one (of the directors)".

PSNI Superintendent Clive Beatty said Mr Lunney was arriving home when his vehicle was rammed by another vehicle and disabled.

"Mr Lunney locked himself in the vehicle but four masked men appeared, smashed the windows of Mr Lunney's vehicle, forcibly removed him and bundled him into the boot of a black Audi saloon and drove away," he said.

Supt Beatty said there had been an additional police presence around the company's premises over the past two days ahead of the meeting.

He described Mr Lunney's injuries as "life-changing".

It's understood Mr Lunney police he believed he had been held in a container or caravan.

Officers described his abduction and assault as "paramilitary style" in its execution.

Mr Lunney was once a close associate of former Co Fermanagh millionaire Seán Quinn. He worked with him to try to regain control of his empire, which collapsed in 2012 after Mr Quinn became heavily involved in investments in Anglo Irish Bank.

A statement from the Quinn family released last night said: "We are absolutely horrified to hear of the terrible ordeal which Kevin Lunney has endured, and our thoughts are with Kevin and his family.

"We have had no involvement in the Quinn Group for several years now and are deeply frustrated and angered that our former ownership of those businesses is being associated in any way with such abhorrent acts.

"The Quinn family has repeatedly condemned these types of attacks in the strongest possible terms and we will always do so.

"The people that are carrying out these despicable acts are not doing so for our benefit in any shape or form and we are totally against this type of activity."

Irish Independent

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