One of four men accused over the abduction of Kevin Lunney told Gardai who arrived to search his property: “You’re here because I bought the bleach”, a court has heard.
Mr Lunney, a Quinn Industrial Holdings executive, was kidnapped close to his home in Co Fermanagh on the evening of September 17 2019.
He had his leg broken, was doused in bleach and the letters QIH were carved into his chest before he was dumped on a roadside in Co Cavan.
Luke O’Reilly, Darren Redmond, Alan O’Brien and a fourth man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have all denied abducting and assaulting the businessman.
O’Reilly made the comment unprompted to Gardai, who subsequently found several bottles of bleach during a search of his Co Cavan home three days after the attack.
Giving evidence at the Special Criminal Court on Friday, Sergeant Michael Carney, from the Cavan/Monaghan division, recounted how he went with a warrant to search O’Reilly’s home on September 20.
He told the court that the door at the property was answered by O’Reilly’s wife, and the defendant arrived later, driving a white Mitsubishi 4×4 with a northern registration plate.
Sgt Carney said O’Reilly immediately told him: “You’re here because I bought that bleach.”
The officer told the court that the unprompted remark was “the first thing he said”, adding: “I immediately cautioned him, then showed the warrant.”
He said O’Reilly replied: “That’s fair enough, I’ve nothing to hide.”
Sgt Carney told O’Reilly he was not under arrest and advised him that he was entitled to seek legal advice, which he declined.
O’Reilly again told the officer he had nothing to hide.
The defendant told Sgt Carney he had heard about the Kevin Lunney case on the news and “I wouldn’t know him if I met him.”
He said that, on September 17, his son had returned from the shops but had forgotten to buy a bottle of bleach his wife had asked for.
So, O’Reilly told the officer, he had said he would go and pick up a bottle when he had finished his dinner.
However, the court was told that several bottles of bleach were found during Gardai searches of the six-bedroom, five-bathroom house.
Earlier, the court heard from Megan McClean, an employee at Lynch’s Gala in Killydoon, Co Cavan, where O’Reilly bought a bottle of bleach on the evening of Mr Lunney’s abduction.
Ms McClean told the court she had been working until closing at 9pm that evening, and had been hoovering inside the door of the shop when O’Reilly arrived.
She said she believed O’Reilly arrived between 7.50pm and 8.20pm, as that is the time she would normally do the vacuuming.
She described him as wearing a grey T-shirt and muddy black jeans, and said he had grey curly hair and spoke with a local accent.
She said O’Reilly asked her straight away: “Do you sell bleach?”
She directed him to the shelf where the bleach was kept, but O’Reilly asked her for help to find it so she went over and handed him a bottle of Domestos.
Ms McClean said she had joked to him “You mustn’t be used to cleaning.”
She said O’Reilly had laughed and agreed that he was not.
They then had a short conversation, probably about the weather.
Ms McClean said she had not seen O’Reilly in the shop before, but she had only been working there for three months at that point.
She said he paid 2 euro for the bleach and left, and she did not notice which direction he had taken.
The court was shown CCTV footage of O’Reilly arriving at the shop.
The court is to hear from more than 250 witnesses in a trial that is expected to last 12 weeks.