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Banker’s Wife Freed After 5-Hour Siege

April 16, 1986

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ Police freed kidnapped socialite Jennifer Guinness unharmed early today from a house they had surrounded in Dublin, and arrested three men suspected of holding her captive for eight days.

″I am absolutely delighted. I was treated very well,″ Mrs. Guinness shouted through the open window of a police car that sped away from the scene in a convoy of eight police vehicles, their sirens screaming and lights flashing.

Mrs. Guinness, 48, was freed after a five-hour siege that ended about 6:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m. EST). The wife of merchant banker John Guinness, she was abducted by three gunmen on April 8.

The gunmen had told her husband when they abducted Mrs. Guinness that sthey wanted a ransom of 2 million pounds ($2.6 million). Police said no ransom was paid to Mrs. Guinness’ abductors.

Armed police and members of the Irish army’s elite Rangers Unit surrounded the house on Waterloo Road in the fashionable Ballsbridge area at about 1:30 a.m. (7:30 p.m. Tuesday EST).

When police and soldiers arrived, a man ran out of the rear of the house and was arrested after an exchange of fire. The two others surrendered later, shortly after daybreak.

Police said the three men were from Dublin, one was age 43 and the two others 27, but would say no more about their identities or whether there had been any injuries.

Neighbors on the street of Victorian row houses watched as a police negotiator talked with the two suspects through an open window.

Maureen Cairnduff, who lives across the road, told reporters: ″I heard one of the men tell police he did not want to go out because he would be harmed, though he said it in more colorful language.″

″He asked for a doctor and I realized the kidnapping link when he specified it had to be the Guinness family doctor. The men seemed pretty panicky but the police always were certain Mrs. Guinness would be released.″

Police Superintendent Frank Hanlon said that at about daybreak the two men said they wanted to leave ″and they left quite voluntarily.″

Witnesses said they saw the two gunmen, acting on police instructions, throw down their weapons in plastic bags from a window of the house. Press reports said the arms included an Armalite rifle.

Fifteen minutes later, Mrs. Guinness walked slowly down the front steps of the house into the street, accompanied by a detective.

Mrs. Guinness, a mother of three, appeared calm throughout the negotiations. At one stage, she was allowed to speak from a window to say that she was unharmed, Hanlon said.

The British Broadcasting Corp. said a gun was held to Mrs. Guinness’ head as she spoke to police.

Mrs. Guinness won praise for her coolness as the drama reached its climax.

Hanlon said she was ″a considerable asset toward the ending of this incident through her advice to all parties,″ but he didn’t elaborate.

A brief statement from her family said she was unharmed.

″Jennifer Guinness is safely back home, tired, but in extremely good health,″ said the statment.

There had been no communication from her kidnappers since they drove off with her, leaving her husband and an adult daughter tied up in their home in the Dublin suburb of Howth.

The Guinness family, with branches in brewing and banking, is Ireland’s richest dynasty and has been a force in Irish society for 200 years. It is also one of Europe’s richest families.

Hanlon said police were led to the house after they raided another Ballsbridge home and found clues that Mrs. Guinness had been held there. They also traced and followed a car that had been rented by the kidnappers.

The police superintendent also said the kidnappers had no connection with the outlawed Irish Republican Army. The IRA has previously carried out kidnappings in the Irish Republic to raise cash for its guerrilla war against the British in Northern Ireland.

Earlier Tuesday, police said they had no significant clues to Mrs. Guinness’ whereabouts or the identity of the kidnappers.

Irish Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald said he was delighted that Mrs. Guinness had been rescued and praised the Irish security forces for their handling of the abduction.

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