Stash seized from ‘safe house’ key to Quinn probe

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Cor­mac O’Ke­effe

Po­lice be­lieve com­put­ers, phones and doc­u­men­ta­tion seized from a “safe house” used by the sus­pected or­ches­tra­tor of the ab­duc­tion of Kevin Lun­ney could have “sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial” in un­earthing ev­i­dence.

Cyril McGuin­ness, a for­mer Pro­vi­sional IRA fig­ure and a ma­jor crime boss, suf­fered a heart at­tack dur­ing a search of the prop­erty in Der­byshire, Eng­land.

Mr Lun­ney, a di­rec­tor of Quinn In­dus­trial Hold­ings, was kid­napped near his home in Der­rylin, Co Fer­managh, last Septem­ber be­fore be­ing tor­tured and dumped half-naked on the road­side in Co Ca­van.

The search in Eng­land was part of co-or­di­nated cross­bor­der searches, with 12 raids in the South and five in the North. The searches came on the day Garda Com­mis­sioner Drew Har­ris and PSNI As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Mark Hamil­ton launched the first ever all Ire­land joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion team to tar­get the gang be­hind the in­tim­i­da­tion, with a re­mit back as far as 2012.

McGuin­ness, the head of a cross-bor­der or­gan­ised crime gang, had fled from his home, also in Der­rylin, in re­cent months to what he thought was a safe house in Bux­ton in the East Mid­lands.

Sources in­di­cated the con­victed crim­i­nal was shocked by the search, be­com­ing se­ri­ously ill, and was un­able to hide po­ten­tially in­crim­i­nat­ing ma­te­rial in the house.

“There was quite a lot of stuff taken away, com­put­ers, phones and doc­u­men­ta­tion, that could have sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial,” said one se­nior source.

“He seems to have been taken by sur­prise and didn’t have time to hide stuff.”

McGuin­ness, known as ‘Dublin Jimmy’, was pre­vi­ously a sig­nif­i­cant player in the Pro­vi­sional IRA and headed a smug­gling and rob­bery em­pire, known for ATM rob­beries.

The 54-year-old had more than 50 con­vic­tions and was known to Euro­pean po­lice forces over ve­hi­cle theft.

He was ex­tra­dited in Au­gust 2011 to Bel­gium for steal­ing con­struc­tion and farm ma­chin­ery, in­clud­ing 20 cranes and trucks in the Nether­lands and Bel­gium.

Other for­mer mem­bers of the PIRA are sus­pected of be­ing in­volved in his gang, as­sisted by fam­ily mem­bers and lo­cal crim­i­nals. This out­fit is sus­pected of be­ing be­hind the es­ca­lat­ing fiveyear cam­paign of in­tim­i­da­tion and vi­o­lence tar­get­ing QIH di­rec­tors and prop­er­ties in Fer­managh and Ca­van.

De­tec­tives are not sure what im­pact the death of the main sus­pect will have on other mem­bers of the crim­i­nal en­ter­prise, but sources said some might “open up” given the fear and con­trol their for­mer boss in­stilled was gone.

Searches led by the Ca­van-Mon­aghan Di­vi­sion in­volved some 100 gar­daí. Five searches were con­ducted in Co Ca­van, three in Co Long­ford and four in Dublin, in homes and com­mer­cial premises. Five PSNI searches were con­ducted in the Der­rylin area.

At a joint press brief­ing at Garda HQ, Com­mis­sioner Har­ris and As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Hamil­ton an­nounced the first-ever Joint In­ves­ti­ga­tion Team un­der the EU’s ju­di­cial co-op­er­a­tion body Euro­just. joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion team are based on an agree­ment be­tween pros­e­cu­tors and judges re­gard­ing the shar­ing of ev­i­dence.

Mr Hamil­ton said the ini­tia­tive was about com­bin­ing ev­i­dence to bring prose­cu­tions in which­ever of the two ju­ris­dic­tions was the “best place” to do so.

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