John Gilligan seeks sanctuary at private hospital in the UK
Published 21/03/2014 | 02:30
Gangster John Gilligan has checked himself into a private hospital in the UK, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Security sources understand that the frail 62-year-old is undergoing further treatment for gunshot wounds suffered in a failed assassination bid nearly three weeks ago.
On Monday, this newspaper revealed that Gilligan had discharged himself from hospital and immediately taken a ferry to the UK that morning.
He decided to flee the country within hours of the gangland murder of his associate and minder, Stephen 'Dougie' Moran, who was gunned down on Saturday evening.
The former gang boss, who ordered the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, was visibly shaken as he was wheeled out through the back doors of James Connolly Memorial hospital at 12.10am on St Patrick's Day, flanked by armed gardai.
The wounded gangster used a false name when he fled the country.
The convicted drug trafficker used Dublin Port to make his escape because, unlike an airport, he could leave without having his movements recorded.
Using a fake name made him less traceable to authorities, as well as the would-be assassins who have stalked him and have twice tried to kill him since December.
Sources say that because passengers do not have to give a real name when passing through a port, it is a deciding factor in the travel plans of many criminals.
"The man who drove Gilligan on to the ferry used his real name on the booking reference, and everyone's name is recorded, but if you're travelling as a car passenger or a foot passenger you can call yourself whatever you like," a source said.
"There is no John Gilligan on the list for that sailing.
"And they don't have to come back using the same name they went out with either, so they can become virtually anonymous."
The Herald has also learned that Gilligan has a current passport -- which he applied for and received while in prison -- meaning he is free to travel on from the UK if he wants to.
The black Mercedes with 132 plates that Gilligan used to board the 2.15am ferry has so far not returned to Ireland, and may be hidden away so as not to expose Gilligan's location.
Sources last night confirmed that the gangster, who was targeted after he had tried to extort money from other drug dealers, is currently in a private clinic in the UK midlands.
"He now realises that he is in mortal danger wherever he goes but he reckons it would be safer to recuperate in a hospital in the UK, where it might be harder to get at him," said a source.
Meanwhile it has also emerged that underworld associates of the murdered gangster Stephen 'Dougie' Moran warned him that his life was in danger for acting as John Gilligan's minder.
This newspaper has learned that the godfather was using Moran (45) as muscle to put the squeeze on other criminals for what he called his "coming home money".
A source said: "Dougie was warned not to get involved with Gilligan because they were upsetting a lot of very heavy people.
"Gilligan was hitting people for €5,000 here and €10,000 there which he told people was his coming home money. He thought that with Dougie by his side people would be scared of him, that's why they (killers) moved so quickly to kill him."
It is now understood that Moran's murder was carried out by the same gang responsible for two previous attempts on Gilligan's life.
The prime suspect for organising the hits is a convicted criminal who originally fell out with the gang boss while they were in Portlaoise Prison.