Wednesday 28 September 2016

Gilligan and Dundon among criminals convicted in non-jury court

Published 23/12/2015 | 02:30

John Gilligan was convicted in the Special Criminal Court. Photo: Courtpix
John Gilligan was convicted in the Special Criminal Court. Photo: Courtpix

The Special Criminal Court was set up during The Troubles in 1972 - but even today it has such a backlog of cases, the next available date is 20 months away.

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Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said yesterday that it was established "in the hysteria" that gripped Dublin after two CIE workers died in a bomb attack.

He argued that the court should no longer exist but Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald recently announced a second non-jury court is to be established due to a serious backlog of cases.

The rules of evidence that apply in proceedings before the Special Criminal Court are the same as those applicable to trials in the Central Criminal Court. The court has dealt with some of the most high-profile criminals in the State including:

Michael McKevitt was convicted in August 2003 of membership of the Real IRA and directing terrorism between August 1999 and October 2000. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail. He was previously found by a civil court in Northern Ireland to be liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing.

John Gilligan has appeared before the Special Criminal Court several times, notably in March 2001 when he was convicted on 11 counts of importing cannabis and possession for sale or supply. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison, reduced to 20 years on appeal.

Brian Rattigan was serving a sentence for murder when he was brought to the Special Criminal Court on charges connected to directing the supply of drugs while in prison. He was subsequently jailed for 17 years after the court agreed he was the director of a drugs gang conducting a €1m heroin deal.

Brian Meehan is serving a life sentence in Portlaoise prison after being convicted in July 1999 of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin. The Dubliner is currently appealing the case to the Court of Appeal.

John Dundon, the Limerick gangster, was found guilty of the 2008 murder of Shane Geoghegan. The high-profile case heard that two key witnesses had received threats from Dundon. He was jailed for life in 2013.

Irish Independent

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