Gardaí broke law, claims lawyer arguing against use of phone data in Lunney case

Gardaí have repeatedly broken the law by accessing illegally retained mobile phone data, a barrister has argued at the trial of four men accused of falsely imprisoning and causing serious harm to Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney.

Michael O'Higgins SC told the Special Criminal Court this morning that despite a finding by the Court of Justice of the European Union that mass retention of phone data is a serious breach of citizens' privacy rights, the government has done nothing.

He added: "That has left another arm of the executive, law enforcement, breaking the law repeatedly, for years and years and years."

Counsel said he was not "pointing the finger" but wanted to make the argument that, "the breach is an egregious breach that has been perpetrated again and again and again despite the rulings from the courts."

He said gardaí had gone beyond "recklessness or negligence" in their repeated breaches of the right to privacy by using search warrants to seize mobile phone data revealing details such as the times of phone calls and text messages made and received by phone users and the location of phones at specific times.

Mr O'Higgins is arguing that mobile phone evidence the prosecution intends to use against his client should be ruled as inadmissible because it was unlawfully obtained. Lawyers for the three other accused have said they will adopt Mr O'Higgins' arguments.

A 40-year-old man who cannot be named by order of the court, 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 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.

Mr O'Higgins is continuing his submissions to the court. Mr Justice Tony Hunt is presiding, with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.

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