McGuinness search was part of probe into attacks on Quinn Group property, High Court hears

A retired garda superintendent has told the High Court that a search of the business yard of a brother of late gangster Cyril ‘Dublin Jimmy’ McGuinness was part of a major investigation into millions of euro in damage to former Quinn Group property.

Retired Supt Fergus Treanor said a search carried out at the Swords premises of Fran McGuinness (62) in August 2014 arose specifically out of the sighting of a Cherokee jeep at the yard shortly before the vehicle was used in an arson attack on the Quinn Packaging Plant in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, on March 13th, 2014.


Truck dealer Mr McGuinness, originally from Pinnock Hill, Swords, and currently living on the Dublin Road, Newry, Co Down, claims he has been the victim of garda harassment over several years simply because of his brother Cyril, who was the suspected mastermind behind a series of attacks on former Quinn premises in 2013/2014.


The court heard ‘Operation Larissa’ was set up by gardaí to investigate those behind the attacks.

Cyril McGuinness died of a cardiac arrest shortly after he collapsed during a police search of his home in Derbyshire, England in 2019.

Fran McGuinness told the court he had been estranged from his brother for many years.



Mr McGuinness is suing the Garda Commissioner and the State over what he says was the unlawful search in August 2014 of his truck dealing business premises next door to the house where he grew up at Pinnock Hill in Swords.

He claims Gardaí wrongly associated him with the Quinn attacks, and that information used to swear the warrant for the search was untrue.

He claims gardaí caused unnecessary damage to two gates to the premises by using an acetylene torch and seized important documents for his UK truck trading companies.

They also took envelopes containing £2,000 and €1,800, which were commission payments for other traders which he later had to make up for, he said.


The defendants deny the claims, saying the search was lawful, that there were no envelopes containing money, and that copies of other documents seized were returned to him.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Mr Treanor said some €600,000 damage was done to the Quinn Packaging plant and the lives of 30 employees there were put in danger.


Mr Treanor, who was the lead officer looking into the Quinn attacks at the time, said it was one of a number of incidents which were happening around this time, almost every fortnight.

The frequency and nature of the attacks would suggest they were done by highly organised criminals, Mr Treanor said.



The Cherokee jeep attack involved the roof of the vehicle being cut off and packing it with burning tyres before driving it into the lobby of Quinn Packaging.

Gardaí were able to establish the jeep had been seen in Fran McGuinness’s yard in Swords at a specific time and date, he said.

A warrant was obtained for the premises to search for any evidence that might develop towards a criminal prosecution, he said.

Asked by Gerard Clarke SC, for the defendants, if he apprehended any danger at the Pinnock Hill search, Mr Treanor said he was personally aware of the McGuinness family for over 30 years.


Mr Treanor said he briefed Det Sgt James Fraher, who led the search, of the dangers, including the risk of violence, obstruction and the possibility for a major confrontation.

Under cross-examination by Eanna Mulloy SC, instructed by solicitor John Geary, Mr Treanor rejected the suggestion Gardaí were heavy-handed or excessive in their approach to the search.

He had been investigating crimes where there had been property damage of €6 million, and people’s lives were put at risk, he said.

Mr Teanor said he was quite satisfied the search was carried out properly.

The case, which is being heard by Mr Justice David Nolan, was adjourned to Thursday for legal submissions.