Investigators charged with identifying a gang involved in the abduction and brutal assault of businessman Kevin Lunney are focusing their interests on a number of known criminals from the north Longford area.
Mr Lunney, the chief operating officer at Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) sustained what have been described as "life-changing" injuries after the 50 year-old was abducted from outside his home in Co Fermanagh last Tuesday night (September 17).
The two hour ordeal, which saw the father of six sustain a broken leg as well as slash wounds to his face and neck, involved the use of what sources have described as a horsebox or 'mobile torture chamber'. In a bid to destroy any incriminating DNA evidence, the gang resorted to pouring industrial bleach over the QIH director's wounds, causing agonising pain in the process.
From there, Mr Lunney, who was placed in a balaclava to prevent him from identifying his attackers, was dumped at the side of a roadway in Cornafaen, a few miles from the Cavan-Longford border. Mr Lunney's car was also found burnt out a short time later just as a major cross border investigation involving both the PSNI and gardaí got underway.
Over the weekend, a large scale search operation took place at Middletown Cross and the N55 Cavan to Granard road. A major focal point of that search has centred on a container in which gardaí are satisfied Mr Lunney was viciously assaulted in.
A thorough search resumed on Monday while CCTV footage on which it is believed one of the gang can be seen purchasing bleach, to be used to destroy forensic evidence, has also been recovered by the investigating officers.
The Leader has learned one of the prime suspects involved in the organisation of Mr Lunney's abduction is a well known crime boss from the Ballyconnell area of Cavan. He previously had links with former IRA personnel in the past, and was also behind a spate of ATM and other robberies, both in the Border region and elsewhere in the State several years ago.
Gardaí are also convinced a crime gang with links to former Provisional IRA members was paid to carry out the attack on Mr Lunney as part of a campaign of intimidation against five senior executives from QIH, who had all previously received warnings to resign from the company.
A number of suspects currently being investigated are two well known crime gangs from the north Longford area who have a history of violence, intimidation extortion. Meanwhile, gardaí believe they have identified at least one of the gang members on CCTV and who was seen purchasing bleach at around the time that Mr Lunney was being held by his captors.
Mr Lunney has since been transferred from Cavan General Hospital to a hospital in Drogheda to have his leg reset as he continues his long path to recovery.