A suspect in the investigation into the kidnapping and torture of a Northern Ireland businessman has died during a police raid, sources said.

The man was taken ill while Derbyshire Police were searching his home on Friday morning as part of a major operation in the UK and Ireland.

Kevin Lunney, a director at Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), was abducted outside his Co Fermanagh home in September and taken to a horsebox across the border, where he was brutally beaten.

Kevin Lunney interview
Kevin Lunney spoke about his abduction ordeal for the first time this week (BBC Spotlight/PA)

His attackers broke his leg, sliced his fingernails and face with a Stanley knife, carved QIH on his chest, and doused him in bleach.

Mr Lunney, a 50-year-old father of six, spoke publicly about his ordeal for the first time this week in a powerful TV interview.

The attack was the most serious in a five-year campaign of intimidation targeting the companies and directors that now control the business portfolio which was built up by fallen tycoon Sean Quinn, once Ireland’s richest man.

A sinister element in the community in the Fermanagh/Cavan border area, where the companies are based, continues to vent anger at the demise of Mr Quinn’s empire.

Kevin Lunney abduction
Ex-billionaire businessman Sean Quinn (Niall Carson/PA)

The Quinn family have consistently condemned and distanced themselves from those attacking the new owners.

Prior to Friday, no-one had been arrested, with police on both sides of the border under mounting pressure to bring the perpetrators to justice.

On Friday morning, the Garda were searching five locations in County Cavan, three locations in County Longford and four in Dublin. The premises are a mixture of domestic dwellings and commercial business premises.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) were searching five locations in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, and Derbyshire Police were searching a location in England.

Commenting on the PSNI operation, Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mullan said: “The investigation is continuing at pace and today’s significant operation involves searching four residential properties and one commercial premises in the Derrylin area.”

She added: “This was a truly horrific crime and we continue to work closely with our colleagues in An Garda Siochana and now also Derbyshire Constabulary to try and bring the perpetrators to justice.”