He was the helicopter-flying, Porsche-driving former multi-millionaire who mysteriously disappeared last spring after his partner reported him missing from his luxury mansion.

When the Irish property developer Kevin McGeever reappeared barefoot on a rural road in January, his emaciated body and long, unkempt beard made him resemble Howard Hughes. The word “Thief” was etched in ink on his forehead and when he was finally taken to a Garda station he asked for a bag of curry chips.

The 68-year-old’s story gripped Ireland, especially as he claimed to know nothing about his months in captivity or the identity of his kidnappers.

However, his silence since a couple spotted him wandering disoriented in County Leitrim has resulted in his arrest. The Garda Síochána confirmed they had questioned McGeever on Friday on suspicion of wasting police time.

He was held under section 4 of Ireland’s 1984 Criminal Justice Act, which allowed the Garda to hold him for 24 hours. He was released from Gort Garda station in County Galway late last night.

Although McGeever has given no media interviews since he was found on 29 January, his brother, Brendan, told the Irish broadcaster RTE the businessman had been locked in a dark room, suffered death threats and been abused by his captors.

Detectives had been exploring the theory that McGeever’s captors were one-time Provisional IRA members. Security sources in the Republic suspected McGeever might have been freed by the gang after members possibly panicked over the murder of police officer Adrian Donohoe near the Northern Irish border. There is no suggestion that the relatively small criminal gang that murdered Donohoe had any connection to the McGeever kidnap.

The entrepreneur has been reluctant to give a full statement to Garda detectives. All he has said is that three masked and armed men abducted him in his garden. Yet because he is not a suspect in relation to his ordeal, under Irish law he cannot be made to speak further to gardaí about the events of the past eight months.

McGeever used to be known as a chatty, gregarious character who, despite his enormous wealth, mixed with locals at Rafferty’s bar in the County Galway village. He was sometimes seen roaring through the Irish countryside in his luxury Porsche and Hummer vehicles, or crisscrossing the country in a Eurocopter.

So far, however, the property tycoon has only relayed to Gardaí that his captors had demanded a ransom for his release and he was not sure if it had been paid.

Irish property tycoon Kevin McGeever arrested over kidnap claims – The Guardian
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