30 Jun 2022

Scientist discovered DNA matching Kevin Lunney's and accused's in Kangoo van

Scientist discovered DNA matching Kevin Lunney's and accused's in Kangoo van

Kevin Lunney

A scientist found DNA matching Kevin Lunney's in the same van where he found DNA matching one of the men accused of abducting and torturing the Quinn Industrial Holdings director, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Dr Edward Connolly of Forensic Science Ireland told Sean Guerin SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, that on 31 October 2019 he attended the examination of a Renault Kangoo van that the prosecution alleges three of the accused used to travel to and from Cavan on the day of the abduction.

Dr Connolly switched off all lights so that the inside of the van was completely dark and sprayed a chemical known as luminol on the surfaces. Luminol emits a blue light when it comes into contact with blood, he said.

He noted areas of blue light on the interior of the van's sliding door. Using a torch he could see areas of staining and later told Detective Garda Ursula Cummins to swab the area for further testing.

A black metal pole behind the driver's section also emitted blue light and was swabbed. At the laboratory, Dr Connolly found that the swabs from the sliding door of the Kangoo generated a DNA profile that matched a reference sample taken from Kevin Lunney.

From the swabs taken from the bars behind the driver's seat, he was able to generate a profile that matched that of the accused man Darren Redmond.

In his opening speech Mr Guerin said that the prosecution is not alleging that Mr Lunney was ever in the Kangoo but that someone who had been in contact with Mr Lunney transferred Mr Lunney's blood to the van.

A 40-year-old man named as YZ because he can't be identified for legal reasons, 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.

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.

Dr Connolly also examined swabs taken from areas of blood staining inside a horse trailer at a yard in Drumbrade, Co Cavan. The yard is owned by the accused man Luke O'Reilly and the prosecution alleges that Mr Lunney was held and assaulted in the horse trailer. Dr Connolly said the swabs from the horse trailer generated a DNA profile matching Mr Lunney's.

The witness agreed with defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC, for YZ, that gardai carried out a technical examination involving a "full forensic sweep" of the Kangoo van two days before Dr Connolly identified blood using the luminol test. Dr Connolly further agreed that when he saw the blue light he used his torch to examine the area and saw an area of "clearly visible" red or brown staining.

Dr Connolly also agreed with Giollaiosa O'Lideadha SC, for Alan O'Brien, that he would expect a forensic examiner, carrying out a careful examination, to see the stain.

The trial has previously heard that the Kangoo van was destroyed in a fire in early 2020 at a garda storage centre in Cavan.

Dr Connolly agreed with Mr O'Lideadha that for another scientist to carry out a "full and rigorous, skeptical analysis" of the tests carried out by Dr Connolly, it would be legitimate to request fresh samples from the van.

Under reexamination Dr Connolly told Mr Guerin that he complied with all requests for further information from scientists hired by the accused men. He was not asked to carry out any further tests or examinations.

Dr Connolly told Michael Lynn SC, for Luke O'Reilly, that he tested five bleach bottles that were taken from the Mr O'Reilly's home. The caps of two of them revealed DNA matching Mr O'Reilly's but no other DNA was discovered. He said the bottles were either empty or had only a "very small amount" of bleach in them.

The trial has previously heard that gardai focused on Mr O'Reilly after discovering that he bought a bottle of bleach at around the time Kevin Lunney said his attackers decided they needed bleach to destroy forensic evidence. Mr O'Reilly told gardai in a voluntary statement given within days of the abduction that he bought the bleach because his wife needed it.

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

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