Tuesday 20 March 2018

CAB rejects Gilligan's claims 'he didn't get proper hearing on 1996 freezing orders'

John Gilligan arrives for the Supreme Court hearing Photo: Gerry Mooney
John Gilligan arrives for the Supreme Court hearing Photo: Gerry Mooney

Tim Healy

THE Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has rejected claims by convicted drug dealer John Gilliigan and his family that he did not get a proper hearing of the original 1996 orders leading to the freezing of their assets.

Ben O'Floinn BL, for CAB, was continuing his reply to arguments made by counsel for the Gilligans on Tuesday, the first day of the Supreme Court hearing of their challenge to findings that they acquired certain assets through the proceeds of crime.   The case is due to finish today.

Mr O'Floinn said the 1996 freezing orders, confirmed in a High Court decision in July 1997, were obtained in accordance with legal requirements.

The Gilligans resiled from 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 - an appliction by CAB to forfeit the property to the State, Mr O'Floinn said.

Michael Bromley Martin QC, for the Gilligans, disagreed with the characterisation that they had resiled from fighting 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 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.

By that time (July 1997) all the freezing orders had been made, he said.  "We maintain that at all stages of the Section 3.1 (freezing) orders, there was no representation or legal aid".

Earlier, Mr O'Floinn also said there had been "something of a bifurcation in this case" in that, while Mr Gilligan had disclaimed an interest in most of the property and it was other members of the family who owned it, he directed a good deal of the subsequent litigation even though "he was the person who has least in terms of property interest".

Mr O'Floinn rejected arguments for the Gilligans that there had not been a proper trial of the issues because certain requirements had not been met, including giving the Gilligans a reasonable opportunity to challenge CAB's application, obtain legal representation and have a speedy trial.

Mr O'Floinn said these requirements had been met and even by January 1998, when CAB sought to amend its application, the Gilligans "were not jumping up and down". 

They were of the view they would "keep their powder dry" until the next stage of the proceeds of crime court process, the forfeiture of property, Mr O'Floinn said.

The court is hearing arguments from a third Queen's Counsel reresenting the Gilligans in relation to their claims that what happened to them was a breach of their rights under the European Convention. 

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