Thursday 30 March 2017

TVs, pets allowed in cells -- Gilligan

Eoghan MacConnell

CONVICTED drug dealer John Gilligan yesterday claimed that inmates at Portlaoise Prison had budgies, cockatoos, parrots, plasma screens, and fridges in their cells until a sudden crackdown by authorities.

Gilligan, who is charged with possession of a mobile phone at his prison cell on July 30 2008, claimed at Portlaoise District Court that a phone call by an inmate to the 'Liveline' radio show prompted the Justice Minister to order the searches at Portlaoise Prison in 2008.

He alleged the minister sent word to governor Edward Whelan to have the prison "cleaned out" after the phone call.

However, the governor said he had only fully taken over the prison at the end of April 2007 and that the searches took place as part of the takeover and review in early May 2007. Prior to one search in 2007, Gilligan claimed, 16 prisoners who owned budgies were permitted to purchase bird cages and hand the animals over to visitors.

He also alleged the governor had permitted prisoners to use mobile phones.

The accusation was denied: "No prisoner is entitled to have a mobile phone in any part of the prison while they are serving a sentence," Mr Whelan said.

Gilligan then accused the governor of lying, making deals with prisoners and inspecting his legal mail. All of the accusations were also denied.

As he had been disciplined in prison following the search of his cell, Gilligan then claimed the criminal prosecution represented "double jeopardy". Judge Gerard Haughton said he would accept legal submissions on the matter at a later date.

Evidence relating to the phone allegedly found in Gilligan's cell was given by representatives from Vodafone, O2 and Meteor. The phone evidence showed "a continuous stream of traffic in the phone at regular intervals on the day of the 29th", according to state solicitor Donal Dunne.

Judge Haughton adjourned the proceedings until March 11 to allow further evidence relating to the mobile phone to be heard.

Irish Independent

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