A van allegedly used in the abduction and assault of businessman Kevin Lunney was left unlocked on a Dublin street where a member of the National Surveillance Unit (NSU) entered it to plant a device, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
Two members of the NSU gave evidence on Wednesday after the court made orders that their identities or any description of them should not be published. Detective Superintendent Ciaran Hoey told the court that their identities needed to be protected out of concern for the lives and wellbeing of the officers and to safeguard future undercover garda operations.
Mr Justice Hunt ordered that members of the public, other than family members of the accused, Mr Lunney and his family, and members of the media, be excluded from the court while officers from the surveillance unit gave evidence.
The first NSU member told Mr Guerin that on October 21st, 2019, more than one month after Mr Lunney was assaulted, he deployed a piece of technical equipment inside a Renault Kangoo van with a UK registration ending in PXU. The van was parked, unlocked on Merchant's Road in the East Wall area of Dublin, the detective said.
The prosecution alleges that Mr Lunney's abductors used the van to drive from Dublin to Cavan and back to Dublin on the day Mr Lunney was assaulted. The trial has also heard that DNA matching Mr Lunney's was found on the inside of the van's sliding door and DNA matching the accused man Darren Redmond was found on a bar behind the front seats.
Under cross-examination the detective agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, for the accused known as YZ, that the vehicle was "open and could have been accessed by anybody." The detective's colleague told Mr Guerin that he retrieved the equipment from the van on October 23rd after it had been seized by gardai and was being held in a storage area at the forensic examination centre in Santry. The van was unlocked, the witness said.
Mr O'Higgins told the three-judge, non-jury court that the defence intends to raise a legal issue regarding the van on Thursday.
A 40-year-old man named as YZ, Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and Luke O’Reilly (68), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan have all pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17th, 2019.
Mr Lunney has told the court that he was bundled into the boot of a car near his home and driven to a container where he was threatened and told to resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings. His abductors cut him with a Stanley knife, stripped him to his boxer shorts, doused him in bleach, broke his leg with two blows of a wooden bat, beat him on the ground, cut his face and scored the letters QIH into his chest. They left him bloodied, beaten and shivering on a country road at Drumcoghill in Co Cavan where he was discovered by a man driving a tractor.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt is presiding with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.