25 Jun 2022

KEVIN LUNNEY TRIAL: Barrister complains that judge is "rubbishing" their arguments


Kevin Lunney

Kevin Lunney

A barrister has complained that the presiding judge in the trial of four men accused of abducting businessman Kevin Lunney is "rubbishing" an important part of the defence case and was "dismissive and contemptuous" in his tone.

Michael O'Higgins SC was cross examining fingerprint expert Detective Garda Ernie Frazer about blood marks inside a Renault Kangoo van when Mr Justice Tony Hunt interrupted to ask, "Where is this blood?" Mr O'Higgins asked the witness to leave and then told the judge that he wanted to "legally complain of the observation made by the court." He said the trial has to be conducted on evidence and that he, having read the book of evidence, is aware of things the judge is not.

Mr Justice Hunt told Mr O'Higgins, "there is no need to shout. Keep the anger level down." Mr O'Higgins said, "I'm not shouting" and added: "This is an important part of the defence case and you are rubbishing it. Can I suggest that you just sit back and listen to all the evidence rather than make comments in the middle of it to the effect that there is nothing in this?"

Mr Justice Hunt said, "I just want to know where the mark is," to which Mr O'Higgins replied: "Your tone in saying it was, in my submission, completely dismissive and contemptuous of it." When Mr Justice Hunt said anyone could listen back to the proceedings to hear his tone, Mr O'Higgins replied: "What won't be on that is the expression on your face." Mr O'Higgins described the judge's question as an "unfair comment on the evidence". The judge finished by saying: "I would like to know what the evidence is, all right, so get the witness back and move on."

A 40-year-old man known 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 (67), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan have all pleaded not (NOT) guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17, 2019.

Detective Garda Ursula Cummins told prosecution counsel Sean Guerin SC that on October 29, 2019 she examined a Renault Kangoo van that had been seized in Drogheda by gardai investigating Mr Lunney's abduction. She said Dr Edward Connolly of Forensic Science Ireland had examined the Kangoo for blood and directed her to take swabs for DNA testing from specific areas of interest.
Under cross examination the detective agreed with Mr O'Higgins, for YZ, that she first took swabs on October 29 before Dr Connolly had examined the van and then returned with Dr Connolly two days later. Mr O'Higgins asked her if it was "a surprise" that on her first examination she didn't notice the brown reddish marks that were later pointed out by Dr Connolly.
She said: "Not really, it's pretty grubby on the inside."

Det Gda Frazer told Mr Guerin that on October 29, 2019 he examined the same van for finger marks but found none. He told Mr O'Higgins that he "didn't see anything that looked like blood". It was at this point that Mr Justice Hunt asked: "Where is this blood?" prompting Mr O'Higgins to ask the witness to leave.

Earlier, Dr Muhammad Ashraf Butt of Cavan General Hospital told Mr Guerin that he examined Mr Lunney on October 25, 2019, more than one month after his abduction. The doctor noted a 7cm long scar from Mr Lunney's right ear to his cheek and a 10cm scar from his right ear to his jaw-bone where he had been slashed with a Stanley knife. Mr Lunney used a beard to hide the scarring but it was still partially visible, the doctor said.

He also had scars on his right upper arm, left wrist, an 8 cm long vertical scar on his lower chest and upper abdomen and a 13 cm scar on the left side of his abdomen. Scarring remained on his left lower leg where surgeons had inserted a nail from his knee to his ankle to repair a fracture to his tibia or shin bone. In the middle of the shin area the doctor noted a "bony swelling".

Mr Lunney also told Dr Butt that he did not sleep well for a time due to the pain and was "fearful of going out in public places."

Mr Lunney, a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings, 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.

Dr Butt said doctors had also noted the extent of Mr Lunney's injuries when he was triaged at Cavan General Hospital on September 17. They noted multiple slash wounds to his face, bruising in various places, mild head injuries, pain and bruising in his right arm and pain in his right leg where an x-ray would later reveal the fractured tibia. The lacerations to his face included a 10cm long wound to the right side and two parallel 7cm long wounds to the left side. He was hypothermic and his attackers had poured bleach on him. Mr Lunney described his pain as "very severe, ten out of ten," the doctor said.

He required fluids and paracetamol, and morphine was administered both by injection and in tablet form. X-rays revealed an oblique, minimally displaced fracture to the tibia. The doctor said the fracture would have left Mr Lunney unable to walk and contributed to his hypothermia as it prevented him from finding cover when his attackers left him on a roadside wearing only his boxer shorts. The wounds to his face required 24 stitches and other face wounds were closed using glue. The surgery to his leg was carried out after he was transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. He was discharged on 24 September, seven days after the assault.
The pain took weeks to resolve, Mr Lunney told the doctor, and he suffered headaches and nausea for a time. The right leg had been "extremely painful" for at least ten days and then gradually improved. There was still pain in the right calf when the doctor examined it on October 25.

Peadar McKiernan told Mr Guerin that he sold an Audi A4 in August 2019 to a man accompanied by "Dublin Jimmy". The prosecution say Dublin Jimmy is Cyril McGuinness, now deceased, and allege that he organised the offences against Mr Lunney. Mr McKiernan viewed a still image of an Audi A4 that the prosecution allege was used by Mr Lunney's attackers. He said the Audi in the still "looks like" the car he sold but he couldn't be certain.  

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Hunt, presiding, with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.

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