An international property tycoon found lost, emaciated and with the word "thief" written on his forehead on a country road in Ireland has claimed he was kidnapped and held for more than eight months.
Police said investigations were continuing into the apparent ordeal of Kevin McGeever — who had business dealings in the United States and Dubai — but said he had been "quite vague in his recollection of events."
Superintendent Pat Murray said in a telephone interview Monday that the 68-year-old McGeever had "lost some weight and appeared disheveled and had some beard growth," when he was found Tuesday last week by a couple driving along a road near Ballinamore, County Leitrim, not far from the border with Northern Ireland.
McGeever claimed he was abducted from his home in the village Craughwell, County Galway, about 70 miles away, on May 27 last year, police said. He was, however, only reported missing on June 22 by his partner Siobhan O'Callaghan.
Media reports have speculated about the involvement Russian mafia, dissident Irish militant groups and border smuggling gangs.
But Murray said police did not have any "definite intelligence of any gangs being involved," saying the case was "very mysterious."
"He [McGeever] is very vague on any kind of detail in relation to what is alleged to have happened to him," he said. "It is only an allegation at the moment."
Murray said reports the word "thief" was carved into McGeever's forehead were untrue, saying the word was written in ink.
The officer said some people had come forward to claim McGeever owed them money, but he added he did not know "how credible that is until we delve into that more deeply."
Murray said police had spoken to McGeever, who is being treated in a hospital, but planned to have a more formal conversation with him later.
"We're hopeful we'll get to the bottom of exactly what happened in this situation," he said.
Murray said that McGeever had business dealings in the United States and in Dubai.
The tycoon was found wandering in the road by Catherine Vallely and Peter Rehill as they drove home.
“When the man got into our car he told us he had no shoes on. I said he could have been killed in the middle of the road and he said three men threw him out of a van,” Vallely said, according to the Irish Examiner.
“I was surprised. I thought he might have Alzheimer’s or something like that. The man said his name was Kevin and he didn’t realize he was in County Leitrim. He didn’t even know the month, the day or the time,” she added.
Vallely said McGeever called a friend and they agreed to drive to a supermarket car park, but instead stopped at the police station in Ballinamore, where he was given tea and biscuits.
“He said he hadn’t eaten for God knows how long. He had a pair of enormous eyes in a very thin face and his cheekbones stuck out,” Vallely said, according to the Examiner. He was rubbing his beard with fingers that had long nails. He was very well-educated, well-spoken, and polite and articulate.”
The Sunday Independent newspaper reported that McGeever was a “wealthy property developer who sold apartments in Dubai.”
The paper said his mansion at Craughwell was nicknamed “Nirvana” by local people because of its opulence and that his cars included a Ferrari and a Porsche.
Nicola Cooke, a journalist with The Sunday Business Post, said McGeever clearly had "all the trappings of wealth," but was "very much a man of mystery."
She said he was not well known as a businessman, saying he appeared to have been mainly involved in selling apartments in Dubai for about $130,000 to ordinary people in Ireland.