Murder in the Sun
How Brendan Flynn, property tycoon and prominent member of Fianna Fail, found himself lying backwards across a desk being interrogated by Spanish Police about the murder of his business partner. By Sam Smyth
IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN THREE MEN TO MURDER HIM: ONE TO keep him prisoner, another to drive his car, a third at the wheel of the getaway car.
They took him just after eleven o'clock that night as he was opening his car after leaving the Pam-Pam restaurant alone. As he stooped his head at the driver's door he was hit on the skull from behind and bundled into the back seat with a man to ensure he stayed quiet and cooperative.
The second man drove his car, with the third following in the getaway vehicle. They drove out of Playa del Ingles, across the main coast road, through the suburb of San Fernando where the local people live away from the milling tourists, up onto the Fataga road toward the brown, barren moonscape of mountains.
He was bleeding heavily. The minder in the back used a beach towel to staunch the 0 Rhesus negative which was dribbling from the head wound onto the back seat.
It would only be someone with a knowledge of local geography and contemporary criminal history who would choose the lonely lay-by in the mountains to do their grisly business. Deserted in the early hours of Monday morning, it has been used to murder foreigners in the past. Two years ago a German and his Mercedes car were pushed over the ravine at the same beauty spot.
If they meant to murder him or not is a moot point now. But around 2am, nearly three hours after they abduccted him, he was dragged from the car. Maybe they wanted him to sign a document or simply beat him as a punishment for some past sin. Perhaps they just went too far.
He was bleeding profusely, his blood making pools on the roadway and splashing the paintwork of the car in four places.
There was a rope lying nearby but maybe they didn't see it in the dark or they ignored it. Anyway they chose to strangle him with the bloody towel.
If their intention was to make it look like an accident they bungled it or, maybe they just panicked. For a group of professional contract killers it was amateur night.
First they threw his body down the five hundred foot deep gorge and as an afterthought they threw the bloody towel after it but it only went four metres and clung to a rock.
They simply pushed the car over the ravine after the body - with the lights and ignition switched off and the doors closed.
The three men drove away. Five hundred feet below Yves Albert Dorval lay dead, his body crumpled and broken on the rocks.
It was nine 0 'clock next morning before a patrol of the Guardia Civil came across the incident. It took just a currsory examination of the body and car to rule out an acciident: they launched a murder investigation.
IF ONLY YVES DORVAL HAD NOT GIVEN UP HIS SEAT FROM Las Palm as to Dublin on Sunday night July 2 on Aer Lingus charter flight EI 6915, then it all may have ended differently.
Dorval, 34, had intended flying to Dublin with his 122year-old daughter Caroline and his Irish girlfriend, Jill Carey.
But though the summer seats to Gran Canaria were at a premium, there were just two £150 seats left and Dorval decided he could not disappoint his daughter.
After leaving his daughter and girlfriend he went off to have dinner alone in a friend's restaurant, the Pam-Pam. He was in excellent spirits leaving the restaurant just after eleven 0 'clock but the only people who saw him alive after that are his killers.
Dorval's estranged wife Christine, 34, heard the news of his murder from a policeman the next day. She had a feisty relationship with Jill Carey whom her husband had left her for four years ago. Christine Dorval had custody of the three daughters of her marriage but there had been ugly incidents when she had shouted insults at Jill Carey outside the house Carey shared with Yves Dorval a few hundred yards from the police station and just a half mile from her own home in Playa del Ingles.
Eventually Jill Carey, 23, was contacted at her parents' home in Ballinaclea Heights, Killiney, Dublin. Jill Carey and 12-year-old Caroline Dorval immediately returned to Gran Can aria on a scheduled flight.
The local newspaper Diario de Las Palmas soon jumped onto the story. They led on July 4 with a heading, "IRA Killing In The South" and a story reminding locals that the viewing point near Fataga village was famous for killing foreigners.
On July 6 a headline screamed, "Irish Connection" and the story said that Dorval had received death threats from Irish people because he had defrauded them of money.
On July 7 they showed photographs of Dorval's fortified house with electronic surveillance equipment and said he had been threatened by a group of Irish people.
On July 14 they said Dorval had defrauded Irish people out of 300 million pesetas and that the Irish creditors were implicated in the murder.
Back in Dublin, property developer Brendan Flynn heard the news about Dorval's death from business connecctions in the Canary Islands.
Flynn had been a glittering example of the sixties thrust of adventurous speculation on the property market. As part of the young men steeped in the tradition of Fianna Fail and determined to secure his slice of the booming property business deals, he went through the seventies at breakneck speed pulling off financial coups that unnerved lesser men. Some say he is a Walter Mitty character, impulsive and foollhardy.
He was toasted by merchant banks and seemed to have the Midas touch. He opened an insurance brokerage and was regarded by the men of property as an example of how Irishmen could heave themselves into the marketplace for their grab at the main chance.
Some of them thought he bordered on the reckless, scooping up wedges of real estate across the city and selling them to well-heeled property companies.
It was when he bought himself a slice of the action in a giveaway newspaper that more conservative entrepreeneurs thought he had stepped ahead of himself. It was a messy operation where his partner was a returned New York publican who owned an hotel in County Monaghan. One of their representatives on the Dublin Advertiser was Peter McMullan, known as Pete the Para, an ex-British soldier turned renegade Republican activist.
Like other ventures the newspaper scheme ran out of steam and into difficulties as the boom slowed and the rheumatism of recession bit into fast-buck business.
In 1981, however, he dreamed up an inspired operation. Timesharing holiday apartments were vogue: buy a luxury holiday home for a few weeks each year and beat inflation.
He floated a company, Sunshare International, and planned to build 28 holiday homes on the island of Lannzarote, the most exclusive of the Canary Islands, where Adnan Khashoggi, King Hussein of Jordan and a list of international luminaries dipped their pedicured toes.
The scheme was backed by Trinity Trust and Savings, a British subsidiary of the Dublin based Leinster Investment Society. Mr Roy Hand of the now defunct Everclear Ltd, in Dublin was an officer of Trinity Trust at that time.
Then as the Leinster Investment Society, under the guidance of Mr Colm Dunne, collapsed in a welter of debts, suspicions and accusations in 1982, Brendan Flynn was left with a financial headache.
Still, his company braved the recession and he ploughed more money into Sunshare. The scheme was doing well, the £40,000 villas paying their way and Flynn was satisfied if not ecstatic.
Flynn met Yves Dorval, a Belgian, born in the Congo, who had a property management company, Guancia Ltd, in the Canaries. With his partner, Lasso Garcia, a Spanish national, Dorval was to collect the money from lettings, arrange the servicing, maintenance and repair of the prooperty.
It seemed an ideal arrangement, Flynn did not have to spend all his time in Lanzarote, trusting his new partner Dorval to look after the £1 million investment.
Flynn took his elderly parents and his wife on holiday to the complex at Matagorda where Dorval, Jill Carey and Lasso Garcia had an office. Life was easy, Jill Carey, Yves Dorval and Lasso Garcia would dress in shorts and tee-shirts as they took the sun and pottered around the property.
Dorval and Jill Carey visited Dublin too, spending a night at Flynn's home in Wyestown, County Meath on one trip. At other times they stayed at Killiney or the Shellbourne Hotel.
Another group of Irish investors had property adjoining Flynn's and Dorval had the maintenance contract there too.
Things began to go sour. Money collected by Dorval should have been paid into a bank account. The builders of the Lanzarote complex, Invelvasa Ltd, who were owed money from the original contract, should have been paid from the account but they weren't.
An estimate from the Spanish Justice Department says Dorval was pocketing £21,000 every month and Flynn beecame very, very angry. Dorval and Garcia refused to take his calls or answer his letters. Other Irish investors on the adjoining site were bitterly angry at Dorval's swaggering arrogance too: He set dogs on two of them who commplained about their accommodation.
Flynn decided he must move to protect his investment.
In March this year he made up his mind to go to Lanzarote and sort out the mess .
Before he left he met a friend called Tony who asked him about Lanzarote, he was intending to take a holiday. Flynn recommended Playa del Ingles, there are more bars and nightclubs in the Gran Canaria resort, altogether more the sort of thing he thought Tony would appreciate.
They made an arrangement to meet in the Old Shillelagh Bar in Playa del Ingles. Flynn insists the man paid his own fare. When he met up with his friend Tony in the bar, he found he was with another Irishman, John, whom Flynn didn't know.
So, on the morning of March 12, Flynn, Tony and the man he knew as John, flew to Lanzarote. Flynn had a meetting with Dorval and Garcia in the Grand Hotel, Arricife, the island's capital. He says neither Tony or John attended the meeting.
(The identity of both John and Tony are known to me but they have requested it not be made public.)
Flynn, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of business law, put two options to Dorval and Garcia: They would either hand over the £120,000 they owed him, or he would form a new business partnership with the builders, Invelvasa Ltd, and bring them to court.
They didn't pay over the money and Flynn, with Invellvasa, took a civil court action which froze all monies colleccted by Dorval and Garcia, the money would be paid into the court. Dorval and Garcia ignored the court order.
Flynn and Invelvasa instituted a second court hearing to enforce the first. It was to be heard in Las Palmas on July 5, two days after Dorval was murdered.
BRENDAN FLYNN FLEW FROM DUBLIN TO THE CANARIES ON August 18, arriving late he checked into the Hotel Perque. The next day, a Sunday, he kept a- prior arrangement to rneet Christine Dorval at her home to try and sort out the business mess. It was amicable, according to Mrs Dorval.
At 7.30am on August 20 he flew to Lanzarote and made his way to his apartment complex. At noon he was arrested by the Policia Nacional and taken to the station in Arricife. His Spanish lawyer has an office just 200 yards from the police station but Flynn was refused permission to contact him.
The following day Flynn was flown handcuffed to Gran Canaria and taken to the police station in Playa del Ingles. His interrogators told him they wanted the answers to just three questions: Who killed Yves Dorval; Who paid for it and what was the IRA connection; Why was he killed. They gave him several hours to think about the answers and told him if he did not come up with the right answers they would use "other methods".
The following account of Flynn's treatment at the hands of the Policia Nacional in Playa del Ingles has been detailed in a letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Peter Barry. That Flynn was brutally treated in police custody has been verified by independent sources.
At noon the questioning began. Thin sheets of foam rubber were wrapped around Flynn's wrists and his hands handcuffed behind his back. A motor cycle helmet, several sizes too small, was squeezed over his head. A blanket was put on a desk and more sheets of foam rubber put at the edges. He was sat on the desk and pushed backwards. His feet were jammed under a chair where a policeman sat and his head let hang off the other side of the desk, his body arched in a U position. A powerful arc lamp was shone on his face raising the hot temperature considerably. A tape deck was played at top volume.
One of the inquisitors straddled Flynn's head and pushed it down rhythmically in .rime to the music. Flynn said he thought his back would break. His screams were drowned out by the music but amplified to himself by the tighttfitting helmet.
One policeman, says Flynn, removed his shirt because of the intense heat in the room. Another began striking Flynn in the solar plexus and on the testicles. He described the pain as "beyond reason, agonising and unbearable."
When they stopped Flynn was marched around so that the circulation to his legs would be resumed.
Then, said Flynn, the real interrogation began. The police claimed Flynn's father was the leader of the IRA; that Flynn was a leader of the IRA; that Flynn was a memmber of Fianna Fail which was a front organisation of the IRA; that Dorval had been killed by the IRA with assisstance of ETA (the Basque separatists) and a local person; that Flynn owed Dorval vast sums of money and that was the motive; that Flynn and other Irish people had financed the killing; that the perpetrators of the crime were the two Irishmen Flynn had met in March.
The police said that Flynn's father had sung IRA songs at a party in Lanzarote two years ago.
Flynn says his interrogators produced a telex from Interrpol which stated that Fianna Fail was an organisation "symmpathetic to the aims of the IRA." He says they slapped him around the face with the telex.
Flynn explained that his father is a 70-year-old invalid (he has suffered two strokes), that the party two years before was a birthday party for a 70-year-old woman (it has since been established independently from others at the party that the songs sung were, "Men Behind The Wire", "Four Green Fields", "Off To Dublin In The Green" and "Danny Boy").
He admitted having been a member of Fianna Fail, but said he had left a cum ann two years before and that anyyway, it was Fianna Fail who had introduced the "Offences Against The State Act".
Desperately he explained that Dorval's death only set his business interests back and that two days after the killing he (Flynn) would have had a legal settlement to his probblems had Dorval lived.
Bathed in sweat and his legs and thighs locked with cramps, Flynn was returned to the torture room. Again he was stretched across the desk backwards and repeatedly struck in the stomach and testicles.
When the interrogators took another break Flynn was returned to a cell but suspended by his wrists from the door so he could not rest.
It was at 5 .30am, seventeen and a half hours after the inquisition began, when Flynn agreed to make a statement. He finished it at 7am. The police dictated it but, says Flynn,
he refused to incriminate himself. He was returned to his cell where he slept until the afternoon.
Flynn was asked to dictate an official statement then through an interpreter with a court appointed lawyer representing him. Neither Flynn nor the lawyer were allowed to hear the statement read back.
When it was finished he was given permission to make a collect call to his brother in Dublin. When his brother Michael arrived Flynn tried to tell him "as gaeilge" exactly what happened. All their conversations were monitored. Flynn urged his brother to contact someone in the Irish government to protect him.
Then Policia Nacional were obliged to hand Flynn over to the Guardia Civil for questioning. They had found Dorval's body and normally would have investigated the case but the Polica Nacional petitioned the court to be allowed to investigate the Dorval killing. A puzzling twist of events.
When the Guardia Civil saw Flynn they gasped. He had been bathed in sweat for days without being allowed to wash and he was obviously seriously distressed.
Flynn says he had been warned not to make a statement to the Guardia Civil.
He explained about the torture to the interpreter, a German woman who works in Playa del Ingles. The Guardia Civil then ordered that Flynn should be seen by a doctor before being returned to the Policia Nacional.
The German interpreter broke down in tears when the full extent of Flynn's injuries were revealed, the doctor refused to sign a certificate. Later he relented and said that Flynn was suffering from injuries when he was taken into Guardia Civil custody. (This has been verified by indepenndent sources.)
When Flynn was returned to the custody of the Policia Nacional he was interrogated again, they said hairs had been found at the scene of the murder and they produced a hand drawn sketch of his house in Wyestown, County Meath where, they said, there were hidden compartments for storing arms and explosives and IRA men. The sketch had been provided by Jill Carey.
They told Flynn they were going to arrest his wife when she arrived and again put the helmet on his head and sat him on the desk.
The next morning a policeman came to Flynn's cell and asked him if he knew the Irish Minister for Justice. Flynn said he did. They told him he had telephoned and demannded that he (Flynn) be well treated and admitted that the information about his house had come from Dorval's misstress, Jill Carey.
In fact it was shadow Justice Minister, Michael Woods, who rang the Policia Nacional; he is a friend of the Flynn family. Later that day the Irish Consul to the Canary Islands, Mr Jaime Willis, based in Tenerife, arrived. Mr Willis assured Flynn that he would guarantee his wife's safety and they agreed it may expediate his release if he did not make an official complaint to the Spanish authorities of his treatment in custody.
After three weeks being held in a dimly lit underground cell in the police station in Playa del Ingles, covered in mosquito bites - one of them had become infected - and only allowed to wash once a week in the 85 degrees heat, the authorities realised Flynn was being detained illegally at the station and he was transferred to a prison near Las Palmas.
WHEN I MET BRENDAN FLYNN AT THE PRISON HE HAD LOST more than thirty pounds in weight. It was more than three weeks after his arrest but, he said, the conditions in the prison were good.
He told me about his torture and asked me to pass on a letter to Mr Peter Barry asking for his protection and to make an official complaint about his treatment. He had difficulty in walking, he said, two vertebrae in his spine were injured, he thought, and he had been refused medical treatment.
INSPECCTOR AT THE POLICIA NACIONAL INVESTIGATING Dorval's murder said that Flynn was being detained because he signed a statement saying he paid "a certain person" to kill Dorval.
In an interview at the same police station in Playa del Ingles where Flynn had been interrogated he told me Dorval had defrauded Flynn and left him in financial difficulties. Flynn had flown two Irishmen, John and Tony (he gave me their full names), to Lanzarote in March and they had threatened Dorval and Garcia. On the morning after Dorval's death, at 6am, two Irishmen had checked out of a pension in San Fernando. After paying their bill they left two Irish passports behind. They received a telex from the Irish police on September 17, he said, saying that the passports had been stolen in Boston in the USA.
The inspector told me Dorval had been strangled with a rope found at the scene of the crime and that Flynn had paid the assassin - the IRA mercenary known as John X£3,000 with a further £28,000 to follow.
Flynn, he said, had sold a Mercedes car to finance the killing. And that he thought Flynn may not have wanted Dorval killed but only frightened, maybe the men went too far, he said.
The inspector did not know that the autopsy on Dorval had stated: "Call attention to the neck area - some lesions and. erosions, bruises, above the left clavicle, which have nothing to do with the lesions caused by the fall. Death occurred three to four hours after he dined."
If Dorval had been strangled with a rope, as the Policia Nacional had said, there would have been burn marks on his neck.
He didn't know that Flynn had indeed sold a Mercedes car but it was used to payoff a bank loan and that docuuments from Dublin could prove that.
The inspector also didn't know that Flynn had offered to have the Irishmen John and Tony call to the Irish police and, with Spanish Embassy officials present, give samples of their hair for forensic examination.
The inspector said that their "number one" suspect had originally been Lasso Garcia, Dorval's partner who was still operating in Lanzarote.
Later I called to the Pension in San Fernando - there is only one - but they said they had no knowledge of Irishhmen staying there on July 2.
IT WAS A GENTLEMAN FROM THE SPANISH DEPARTMENT OF Justice who shed more light on the murder of Yves Dorval.
Asking for anonymity he said that the Policia Nacional in Playa del Ingles was riddled with corruption. That an official was in Las Palm as carrying out an enquiry into corruption at the station. He thought an injustice was being done to Flynn.
"Whoever murdered Yves Dorval," he said, "still has his passport. He was carrying his passport when he was killed and it was never found."
It was also strange that the Guardia Civil who discovered Dorval's body and who started the investigation had not been allowed to continue it, he said. The correct police proocedure would have been for Flynn to be kept under surrveillance when he arrived on the islands in the hope that he could lead them to the Spanish people involved. But because the Policia Nacional arrested Flynn that method of investiigation was ignored. Also, he said, the hasty manner in which the Policia Nacional had petitioned the court to investigate the murder when they hadn't been involved, was ominous.
Flynn, he said, or the men from Ireland could not have been involved in the killing. Independent enquiries by the Spanish authorities had estabblished that Flynn and the two men, Tony and John, had been seen in Dublin at the time of Dorval's death. It would have been impossible for them to have been on the Canary Islands.
The place of death, he said, was at the lay-by near the village of Fataga. (The inspector from the Policia Nacional had said it was not possible to say if Dorval had been killed elsewhere and his body taken there.) Only a person with local knowledge would know the deserted place was ideal for murder.
The killing, he said, could easily have been fmanced from Ireland. He knew that Irish people had been threaatened by Dorval. Dorval, he said, had known some of them had taken the money from Ireland illegally and that it was money on which they had not paid tax. He threatened to expose these people to the Irish tax authoriities.
Now, he said, Lasso Garcia,Dorval's partner, has an arrangement with some Irish people and has assured them he will cause them no problems with their property.
There are pressures from some very high sources within the Policia Nacioonal to have Flynn convicted.
Some senior officers have a vested interest in seeing Flynn in prison, he maintained. He told of a senior officer who had bought a new Mercedes car because he had used his influence to secure a lease on a new civic enterrtainment arena in Maspalomas for Dorval. In turn Dorval was hoping to sell the lease to several entertainnment companies, one of them Irish. But the deal collapsed with a strong whiff of scandal leaving the senior officer no choice but to sell the car.
The official from the Spanish Justice Department said Dorval really feared letting the senior policeman down. He was often seen eating and drinking with senior officers in the Policia Nacional.
Yves Dorval, he said, was a criminal without conscience and his partner Lasso Garcia was also a crook.
He added that the authorities suspected a Spanish national from Galacia of being involved in the murder.
"Brendan Flynn," he said, "was set up."
Jill Carey was not at the fortified house she shared with Yves Dorval near the dog track in Playa del Ingles when I called. She was in Dublin. She rang the Sunday World to protest about a story I had written about Flynn's arrest; the story said he may have been set up. She said Flynn had confessed. J ill Carey made an appointment to meet a Sunday World journalist but failed to keep it.
The house Dorval shared with Jill
Carey did not belong to him on paper. Like other properties he owned it was held in his sister's name but she had signed power-of-attorney back to him leaving him free to sell and control it but preventing creditors from seizing it.
Callers to Jill Carey's family home in Killiney, Dublin, have been told recently that, "Jill is abroad."
Lasso Garcia, the original "number one suspect", is still in Lanzarote. When I spoke to him he would say nothing further than, "Speak to the police"
Earlier last month a judge ruled Flynn's "confession" to the Policia Nacional, inadmissable.
The intervention of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and their official complaint about his treatment have led to Brendan Flynn being X-rayed and receiving treatment for his injured back.
Other Irish investors on the Canary Islands, a number of whom were threatened with exposure to the Irish Revenue Commissioners and the Central Bank by Dorval, and at least one of whom threatened Dorval - the Spanish police have a copy of the letter - either deny that they have properties on the islands or refuse to discuss the whole wretched affair.
Two weeks ago the Policia Nacional officer who arrested Flynn, was arrested himself. Sub-Comrnisario Domingo Pardomo, who led the investigation into the murder of Dorval, was taken to the same prison at Salta del Negro, near Las Palmas, where Flynn is detained.
Officials in Las Palmas say that Domingo Pardomo is suspected of being involved in corruption. Parrdorno , who is second-in-command at the police 'station in Playa del Ingles, is accused of buying stolen goods "from well known criminals".
Everyone involved in the case now say that there is no evidence against Brendan Flynn, that he will be freed by a judge "in days".
But someone knows who' murdered Yves Albert Dorval.