independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Victory for CAB as Gilligan fails to halt sale of Jessbrook

THE Criminal Assets Bureau has scored a triple whammy against former crime boss John Gilligan.

After winning a High Court order preventing the convicted drug trafficker from stopping the bureau from disposing his assets, the bureau was also backed by the Supreme Court.

The court refused to put a stay on the order, and CAB reached a deal to sell off the jewel in Gilligan's property empire, the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre.

Nine potential purchasers took a close look at the centre at Mucklon, near the Kildare-Meath border, after the property was put up for sale in three lots last September.

The bureau has now agreed a sale with a buyer for close to the asking price of €550,000 for the entire property. Contracts to close the sale will be completed early in the new year.

Some of the parties who expressed an interest in Jessbrook were considering turning the property into a stud farm while the Munster Agricultural Society examined the possibility of transferring the assets from there and setting up an equestrian and events centre at their headquarters in Cork.

The bureau had been given permission by the Supreme Court in November last year to dispose of almost 50 acres and a complex that included a 3,500-seat arena, a viewing stand, 44 stables and a four-bedroom apartment after a 16-year battle with lawyers for Gilligan's wife, Geraldine.

John Gilligan leaves the High Court in Dublin after the judgment.

Before the recession it had been valued at around €5m.

Gilligan was released from Portlaoise's maximum security prison in October after serving 17 years behind bars.

In the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the Gilligans had no entitlement to a legal notice, warning prospective purchasers that Jessbrook and other properties were subject to legal dispute.

SEIZED

A constitutional challenge by the Gilligans to the Proceeds of Crime Act, under which the properties were seized, was also struck out by the judge.

The portfolio includes a house at Meadowbrook Court, Maynooth, two houses at Westfield Green and Willsbrook Park in Lucan, another at Corduff Avenue, Blanchardstown, and land at Timahoe east in Clane, Co Kildare.

The judge said the proceedings failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action, were vexatious and ought to be dismissed in accordance with court rules. He was firmly of the view that the case had already been decided elsewhere despite arguments on behalf of the Gilligans that there had been a constitutional challenge to the mechanisms under which the act was being applied to them.

The judge said there was a limit to how often and in how many different ways the same point could be argued.

The judge refused an application by a lawyer for the Gilligans to put a stay on his decision, pending an appeal. He also refused an application for free legal aid for the case.

Gilligan was present in the court for yesterday's judgment.

Later yesterday, the Supreme Court turned down an application by lawyers for the Gilligans to put a stay on the High Court order.

Irish Independent

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