The Special Criminal Court trial of four men accused of wrongly imprisoning Quinn Industrial Holdings executive Kevin Lunney has been delayed as lawyers prepare legal arguments ahead of the trial.
Sean Guerin, SC of the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the three-judge, jury-less court today (Monday) that a question of law must be addressed before a trial can take place.
Michael O’Higgins SC, for one of the four defendants, will file a motion in court tomorrow (Tuesday) regarding “questions of jurisdiction”. Mr Guerin said the argument would last about a day. The court has already rejected requests filed in recent months to postpone the trial on various grounds.
Presiding Judge Tony Hunt with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh adjourned the hearing. The four men have not yet been arrested.
Luke O’Reilly (67), with an address in Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan; Darren Redmond (27), of Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3; Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and a fourth accused man aged 40 are all charged with false imprisonment and serious prejudice to Mr Lunney in Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan, the September 17, 2019..
The fourth man cannot be appointed by court order as he has to be tried on other unrelated matters.
Mr Lunney (51), a father of six, was abducted near his home in Co Fermanagh on the evening of September 17. The businessman’s leg was broken, he was sprayed with bleach, and the letters QIH were etched into his chest during the two – half-hour ordeal before being thrown overboard from a road to Co Cavan.
In previous hearings Mr O’Higgins, on behalf of the anonymous man, said the law on the retention and access to mobile phone data is in “a state of significant uncertainty” in Ireland and that the trial should therefore not continue. The Court of Justice of the European Union is currently examining the legality of methods of storing mobile phone data.
Outlining the reasons for the Court’s ruling on this ground, Judge Hunt said that the Special Criminal Court did not perceive “sufficient flow and sufficient uncertainty” to warrant an adjournment of the trial and that it was for the national courts to decide. decide on the legality or otherwise of the retention of telephone data. “No direction will come in the short term regarding these issues,” he added.
Another reason given by Mr. O’Higgins was that the defendants had brought actions in the High Court against the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court to try the case.
In this regard, Judge Hunt said that an important fact was that “no stay” had come from the High Court and that there was no legal obstacle to hearing the trial and therefore no reason for the to adjourn for this reason.
Finally, Mr O’Higgins had argued that significant DNA evidence was found on an abandoned Renault Kangoo van, used in the alleged kidnapping of Mr Lunney, which caught fire following an electrical fault while he was in possession of gardaí. He noted that the Garda ombudsman was investigating the fire and that it did not seem unreasonable to wait for the outcome.
Judge Hunt said the outcome of the fire was “immutable” and could not be changed and that sufficient basis had not been advanced for this reason for the case to be adjourned. “What happened has happened and whatever the consequences will have to be settled at the trial,” he said.
DNA, he said, has been produced in court in many cases, not where the DNA was found.