For a thug who silenced an entire community, Cyril McGuinness came to an ignominious end.
Hiding out in a bolthole in Derbyshire to escape the police heat from organising the particularly vicious abduction and kidnap of Kevin Lunney, he clearly believed he had covered his tracks.
His laptop and various documents he’d brought with him into hiding were casually on display.
He stood there in his underpants, his face white with shock, police later reported back to their Garda counterparts. Police fanned past him to search the house.
He urinated on himself, soiling his underwear, and then collapsed to the floor. Although trained in emergency situations, police were unable to help him. A lifelong smoker and overweight, he died of a suspected cardiac arrest aged 54.
Police have retrieved a “treasure trove” of information from McGuinness’ hideaway, in his laptop, mobile phones and records.
According to informed sources, “important” emails have been recovered from his laptop. There is a sense that the net is closing.
In the village of Ballyconnell in Co Cavan and surrounding townlands on either side of the Northern Ireland border, relief was palpable. The directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) and their families had probably the best night’s sleep since their chief operating officer and friend, Kevin Lunney, was abducted in September.
Bundled from his car on his way home from the office, he was driven to Cavan, tortured and beaten in a horsebox, and left for dead on a country road.
The attack was so vicious that it finally forced the kind of police response that the directors of QIH have long called for.
McGuinness has been the prime suspect for years for organising the criminal damage arson attacks on the companies once owned by the fallen local tycoon, Sean Quinn, providing the brute force to buttress a campaign also waged online and in illegal signs and posters.
Gardai intelligence says he was paid €20,000 for a standard act in a repertoire that has included burning company property, torching cars in driveways and bullets in the post, but none as bad as the savage torture of Mr Lunney, a father of six young children.
McGuinness, aka Dublin Jimmy, worked for money, according to Garda sources. Raised in a large family in north Dublin, he had worked in scrap and haulage since his teens, was in trouble by his 20s and had amassed 50 convictions by the time he died. He presumably moved to the border to make full use of its smuggling opportunities.
McGuinness was a fixer. At the height of the Troubles in the 1980s, he was suspected of shifting stolen vehicles across the border, and providing some logistical cover to the IRA.
He was allegedly involved in helping the IRA plant a bomb in Bishopsgate, London in 1993. He smuggled cigarettes, and alcohol and was involved in diesel laundering.
Another lucrative racket was fly tipping – dumping waste at illegal sites north of the border – for which he received a suspended sentence.
He served surprisingly little jail time. In 2002, gardai raided a breaker’s yard in Rooskey where he was suspected of dismantling stolen vehicles.
Five years passed before he was arrested in Ballyconnell. In a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008, gardai wrote that he was suspected of involvement in large scale criminality, but they acknowledged that they didn’t have the evidence to charge him.
McGuinness was eventually extradited from Ireland to Belgium in 2011 to serve a seven-year sentence for theft.
He was back on Teemore Road in Derrylin, just a couple of miles over the border from Ballyconnell, in 2013 – a heavy for hire.
To the victims of his crimes in the area, McGuinness seemed “untouchable”.
It is no exaggeration to say McGuinness has terrorised the community. In addition to directing terror at QIH, he was the prime suspect for torching a car owned by a garda in the driveway of his home. A second garda who crossed him had his vintage tractors torched. Neither crime was ever solved.
“You would never see him walking the roads much, but he would drink regularly in a couple of local pubs in Ballyconnell,” said one local man.
He flouted the smoking ban to light up in pubs, and on one occasion a local saw him sitting on a parked patrol car, tipping his cigarette ash on the bonnet.
According to local sources, he was rumoured to be an MI5 agent and rumours persisted that he was also a Garda informant.
Senior Garda sources insisted that his recidivist criminal activity would have ruled him out and PSNI sources also deny any knowledge of him being an informant.