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Hundreds of police search for Jennifer Guinness

April 11, 1986

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ Hundreds of police scoured Ireland on Friday for Jennifer Guinness, who was dragged from her mansion overlooking Dublin Bay while her husband and daughter watched helplessly, bound hand and foot.

The deadline for payment of $2.6 million in ransom to the three masked kidnappers passed Friday, but police said it had not been paid and there was no word from the kidnappers.

Police said the kidnappers told merchant banker John Guinness, before taking his wife away Tuesday, that he had three days to pay up.

Press reports in Britain and Ireland described the deadline as a ″life or death″ threat, but police spokesman Larry Coady said: ″They didn’t actually say the woman would be killed if the money wasn’t paid in three days.″

Police Superintendent Frank Hanlon told a news conference Thursday that the kidnappers, led by a burly man called the ″colonel,″ told Guinness he would never see his wife again if he did not pay.

As the deadline approached, Hanlon said: ″We are perfectly satisfied that no contact has been made since the gang left with Mrs. Guinness, and I am satisfied the family and his bank in Dublin and London are being honest with us.″

Government policy forbids payment of ransom, but there have been unconfirmed reports that money was delivered in previous abductions. Other reports say some wealthy families have paid protection money to keep kidnappers away.

Police said they were concentrating on the Dublin area in their search for the 48-year-old socialite, but that officers throughout the Irish Republic were involved.

A police spokesman in Northern Ireland, a British province, said security services there would provide help if needed, but gave no details.

Coady dismissed as ″media speculation″ Irish press reports that police were shadowing two men.

The reports identified them as a member of the outlawed Irish Republican Army’s ruling council believed to have planned the 1983 theft of the race horse Shergar, which was never found, and a leading Dublin underworld figure known as ″the general.″

Forensics experts examined a beige Toyota sedan found Thursday, which matched the description of the getaway car, but police said it provided no leads.

Coady said police still were not certain whether the three men were ordinary kidnappers or members of the IRA, which has employed abduction to help finance its fight against British rule in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Times said Mrs. Guinness was the fifth person held for ransom in the Irish Republic in recent years and her case would cause the most harmful international publicity because she ″bears a name which is synonymous with Irish industry.″

John Guinness, 51, is chairman of the Dublin merchant bankers Guinness and Mahon, a director of six companies and a distant cousin of the Guinness brewing family.

The Guinnesses, with major branches in brewing and banking, have been leaders of Irish society for 200 years and are among Europe’s richest families.

Mrs. Guinness, daughter of an English army officer, is reported to be a major shareholder in the shipping company Bell Lines, which is run by her brother, George Hollwey.

Police lifted a news blackout on the case Thursday in hopes of gaining clues from the public.

According to the police account, Guinness arrived home Tuesday afternoon to find his wife, daughter and a guest tied up and the kidnappers in the house. He tried to seize a gun from one of them, but was pistol-whipped across the face and bound.

Mrs. Guinness pleaded with the kidnappers not to take her daughter, and they left the young woman behind.

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