Thursday 27 July 2017

CAB praised for 'determination and dedication' as John Gilligan loses Supreme Court appeal

John Gilligan arrives at court to hear if CAB can seize his three properties
John Gilligan arrives at court to hear if CAB can seize his three properties
A still image from Paul Williams’s documentary ‘State of Fear’ shows John Gilligan as he was confronted by the journalist at Jessbrook Equestrian Centre in Co Kildare. Photo: TV3
John Gilligan
John Gilligan pictured at Jessbrook recently
John Gilligan is photographed near Jessbrook in Co Meath
John Gilligan
John Gilligan at Portlaoise prison. Picture: TV3/Paul Williams: State of Fear
John Gilligan parties with inmates at Portlaoise prison. Picture: TV3/Paul Williams: State of Fear
John Daly and John Gilligan at Portlaoise prison. Picture: TV3/Paul Williams: State of Fear
John Gilligan cutting trees at his home on the Jessbrook Complex. Photo: Sunday World

Tim Healy

Members of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) have been praised for their "determination and dedication" after drug dealer John Gilligan and his family lost a Supreme Court appeal in which they challenged proceeds of crime orders in relation to some of their assets.

The five judge court said the Gilligans had not established that a previous Supreme Court decision of 2008 came within rare or exceptional circumstance in which a final judgment may be set aside.

To do so, it would have been necessary to show that through no fault of their own, they had been the subject of a breach of constitutional rights, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said on behalf of the court.

"There is nothing extraneous in the circumstances of this case going to the very root of the fair and constitutional administration of justice which would necessitate the setting aside of the judgment of the Supreme Court of 2008", she said.

The court's decision followed a hearing last year in which the Gilligans claim they did not receive a proper trial when assets were frozen by the State in 1996.

Subsequent court rulings based on that decision were flawed or invalid, they argued.

The property included an equestrian centre in Enfield, Co Meath, which Gilligan had bought and developed before he spent 17 years in prison for drug trafficking. Other property owned by his former wife Geraldine, daughter Tracy and son Darren, was also found to be the proceeds of crime.

The Gilligans claimed the properties were bought from legitimate earnings.  They also included two houses in Lucan, Dublin, one belonging to Tracy, and another house in Blanchardstown, Dublin, belonging to Darren.

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), rejected claims they did not get a proper hearing.

The 1996 freezing orders, confirmed in a High Court decision in July 1997, were obtained in accordance with legal requirements, it was argued.

The Gilligans did not take the opportunity to challenge those orders because they took the view that they would await the next stage provided for under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 which was an application by CAB to forfeit the property to the State, Ben Ó'Floinn BL for CAB had argued.

Michael Bromley Martin QC, for the Gilligans, disagreed with this characterisation about their approach to the freezing orders.  

They were assured by the authorities that the orders were of a temporary nature, he said.

Counsel also said at no time leading up to the final freezing orders had the family been represented.

This was because John Gilligan applied for an order under Section 6 of the Proceeds of Crime Act to allow a charge be placed on the property or to have funds released so that he could fund legal aid.  

That application was strongly resisted by CAB and while the High Court granted an order subject to certain conditions, on appeal the order was quashed, counsel said.

The Gilligans also alleged breaches of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Act 2003, in that they did not receive a fair determination of the proceeds of crime case.

In a statement, released this afternoon, gardaí said: "The Criminal Assets Bureau notes with satisfaction the judgment of the Supreme Court today, 1st  February, 2017 which now brings these lengthy proceedings to a conclusion.

"The Bureau disposed of a significant amount of the properties relating to this matter in 2014 (including the former equestrian centre) and is now free to proceed to dispose of the remaining residential property (house in Lucan, a house in Corduff and a house in Jessbrook).

"The Bureau acknowledges the dedication, throughout the years, of the officers and staff, solicitor and counsel, and those who have contributed to finalising this issue. This case shows the determination and dedication of the Criminal Assets Bureau to deny and deprive people of the proceeds of crime."

It was earlier incorrectly reported that John Gilligan had been successful in his appeal

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