herald

Sunday 20 October 2019

Gardai hunting torture gang bid to track down 'screeching' white van

Kevin Lunney was tortured
Kevin Lunney was tortured

Gardai are searching for a van they believe was used to transport a businessman who was kidnapped from outside his home by masked men before being brutally tortured for over two hours.

Information was released yesterday on a distinctive van in "poor repair" as the joint Garda/PSNI investigation continues into the abduction and attack on QIH executive Kevin Lunney last week.

The Herald understands that Mr Lunney was in the white high-roof Transit-type van which is being sought by investigators.

Mr Lunney (50) is still in hospital after he suffered life-changing injuries when he was kidnapped and badly beaten last Tuesday before being left at the side of the road in Co Cavan.

He was taken from near his home in Fermanagh by a group of four masked men, before being dumped across the border in Co Cavan and found by a farmer.

A number of properties in the Cavan area have been searched and gardai are now trying to identify the gang involved through DNA recovered from inside a horsebox in which they believe Mr Lunney was tortured and beaten.

The significant discovery was made following a forensic examination of the trailer at a yard in Cavan on Monday.

Tests

The horsebox was removed for examination, but a senior source told the Herald last night that arrests are unlikely until all forensic tests are completed.

Describing the van yesterday, a Garda spokesperson said it is "in poor repair and may have a loose, screeching fan belt".

"This van has a distinctive painted red floor or partially red floor in the rear cargo area," he added.

"An Garda Siochana would like to speak to any person who knows of a similar vehicle, its current whereabouts, or any person who knows who may have had access to that vehicle on the evening of September 17."

It comes as Garda Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed that a new Garda armed support unit (ASU) will become operational in the Cavan area from Monday.

The delay in setting up the unit has been criticised amid claims that gardai in the border divisions are struggling with a lack of resources in the face of the growing terrorist threat from dissident republicans, the security fall-out from a hard Brexit and the savage attack on Mr Lunney.

Mr Harris said an extra 20 gardai from the next class to graduate from the Garda College would also be sent to the Cavan-Monaghan area.

He denied suggestions there had been a failure on the part of his force in their inquiries into more than 70 incidents linked to attacks on QIH and its personnel since 2011 or 2012.

He said there had been arrests and files had been prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions but none had resulted in criminal charges.

Mr Harris was speaking at the annual cross-border crime conference in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

Meanwhile, during Leaders' Questions yesterday, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the attack on Mr Lunney was a reminder of the "terrible legacy in the border region" which did not end with the Good Friday Agreement.

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