herald

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Hutch mob thug lifted as gardai close in on Lunney torture gang

Gardai arrest a 38-year-old man during a dawn raid in the East Wall area. Photo: Mick O’Neill
Gardai arrest a 38-year-old man during a dawn raid in the East Wall area. Photo: Mick O’Neill

This is the moment during dawn raids in the capital that gardai arrested one of the main suspects in the abduction and brutal torture of businessman Kevin Lunney.

Officers swooped on the 38-year-old man - an associate of the Hutch gang - at a property in the East Wall area of the north inner city area yesterday.

Another 38-year-old man, who is on bail on a murder charge, was also arrested yesterday morning.

Gardai had earlier this month raided properties linked to both men over the kidnapping and savage attack on the Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) director in September.

Sources told the Herald that both criminals were paid "big money" to abduct the businessman on behalf of a gang led by mob boss Cyril 'Dublin Jimmy' McGuinness.

It is understood both men may have been hired by McGuinness after meeting him in prison and that phone contact was made between them and McGuinness while the abduction and attack on Mr Lunney was taking place.

The mobster died from a heart attack when Derbyshire police raided his "safe house" two weeks ago after gardai gave them information about its location.

"They would have been brought in and paid for this because they have no problem using extreme levels of violence," one source said.

"They would need direction on what to do but would have no fear of getting their hands dirty."

The 38-year-old suspect who is facing a murder charge had been spotted out and about in the north inner city in recent days.

It is understood that the investigation team has obtained crucial forensic and electronic evidence from a small van which is believed to have been acquired for the operation.

Gardai during the dawn raid
Gardai during the dawn raid

Gardai located and seized the vehicle last month after McGuinness's associates failed to carry out his orders to have it destroyed.

There were a total of four arrests yesterday connected with the abduction.

Gardai announced last night that they had also picked up a 25-year-old man in the Dublin region and a 66-year-old man in Co Cavan.

All of the suspects were being held at separate garda stations including Ballymun, Irishtown, Monaghan and Finglas.

The Herald understands the 66-year-old suspect is a close associate of the 'paymaster' who is believed to have bankrolled the attack on Mr Lunney, and is linked to a man and woman arrested last week before they were released without charge.

The 25-year-old is a suspected armed robber and is also from inner-city Dublin.

Garda arrest a man. Photo: Mick O'Neill
Garda arrest a man. Photo: Mick O'Neill

He is closely linked to one of the other suspects and also suspected of involvement in an armed raid in Northern Ireland recently.

Mr Lunney was abducted outside his home near Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, and taken to a horsebox across the Border, where he was savagely beaten.

Carved

His attackers broke his leg, sliced his fingernails and face with a Stanley knife, carved QIH on his chest and doused the father-of-six in bleach.

Among those arrested and questioned last week were the wife and son of one of the prime suspects.

The son is believed to have been sent by the gang to buy bleach which was then used to douse Mr Lunney to destroy forensic evidence.

The son has been extremely distressed since the attack and is seen by the gang as the "weak link".

A statement from An Garda Siochana appealed for information on the attack.

"Gardai continue to appeal to any person who has any information, no matter how insignificant it appears, on this vicious criminal attack or any other criminal activities which have taken place in the Cavan/Fermanagh border area over recent years to contact An Garda Siochana at Cavan Garda Station on 049 4368800, the Garda Confidential Line, 1800 666 111, Crimestoppers on 1800 25 00 25 or any garda station," a spokesperson said.

Mr Lunney spoke publicly about his ordeal for the first time earlier this month in a powerful TV interview.

The attack on him, during which his assailants demanded his resignation, was the most serious in a five-year campaign of intimidation targeting the companies and directors that now control the business portfolio that was built up by fallen tycoon Sean Quinn, once Ireland's richest man.

The Quinn family has consistently condemned and distanced itself from those attacking the new owners.

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