herald

Thursday 12 December 2019

Kidnapped and tortured for 2 hours by gang in savage attack

'I thought he'd been hit by a car' - man who found him

Members of the PSNI at a laneway near his home.
Members of the PSNI at a laneway near his home.

A businessman was kidnapped, stripped and tortured for more than two hours in a "severe and savage" attack that has left him with life-changing injuries.

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

His captors then tried to cut his clothes off his body, stabbing him as they did so.

The Herald can reveal a balaclava was then placed over his head and bleach poured over him in an apparent attempt to destroy DNA evidence.

Bundled

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

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

It is understood that Mr Lunney told investigating officers he believed he had been held in a container or caravan while he was tortured.

His horror ordeal began when his car was rammed off the road close to his home in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, at 6.40pm as he was driving from QIH headquarters at Derrylin.

Sources revealed that the paramilitary-style attack appeared to have been organised to coincide with the company's annual board meeting, which was due to take place yesterday.

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

Members of the PSNI at a laneway near his home.
Members of the PSNI at a laneway near his home.

The company's US-based bankers and bond holders who were due to attend the board meeting were immediately advised not to travel. Some who had just arrived in Ireland took the first flight back to the US.

John McCartin, chairperson of QBRC, QIH's parent company, told the Herald he feared the worst for his colleague.

"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 whether our colleague and friend was alive or dead."

QIH said Mr Lunney's and another car were found ablaze in a road near his family home shortly before 7pm on Tuesday.

Chairman Adrian Barden said the incident was an "outrageous attack".

One of the men who discovered Mr Lunney half-naked after he was dumped told the Herald of his horror.

The man, a contractor who was doing work in the area around Cornafean, Co Cavan, stayed with Mr Lunney for around an hour.

He said the victim was able to recount some of what had happened to him, but could "barely talk".

"He was there only with his boxer shorts on, his feet were sticking out into the road," said the man, who did not want to be named.

"At first we thought he had been hit by a car. He told us he had been taken by men in balaclavas and beaten."

Several senior executives at QIH have received 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

In the same incident, boiling water was thrown over Dara O'Reilly, the company's chief financial officer. Mr O'Reilly's car was also set alight outside his family home.

A threatening letter sent to the directors in May, and seen by the Herald, warns that individuals would be "implementing a permanent solution for at least one [of the directors]".

PSNI officers described it as the "most severe and savage" of the recent series of attacks on the company and its executives.

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

"Mr Lunney locked himself in the car but four masked men appeared, smashed the windows, forcibly removed him and bundled him into the boot of a black Audi saloon and drove away from his home," Supt Beatty said.

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

Mr Lunney had, at one stage, been a close associate of former Co Fermanagh millionaire Sean Quinn and had worked with him in efforts to regain control of his business empire which collapsed in 2012 after Mr Quinn became heavily involved in investments in Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Quinn has repeatedly condemned attacks on Mr Lunney and others.

Last night, the Quinn family said in a statement: "We are absolutely horrified to hear of the terrible ordeal which Kevin Lunney has endured, and our thoughts are with him 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."

Business Minister Heather Humphreys said she was "horrified" to hear about the attack on Mr Lunney.

She said he is "a decent, honourable, hard-working man, who I have known for many years".

"As a director in the Quinn Group, he supports the employment of in excess of 700 people in the Ballyconnell area," Ms Humphreys added.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News