Wednesday 13 December 2017

Family of Veronica Guerin disgusted by gangster Gilligan's claim he 'often prays' for her

John Gilligan and son Darren arrive for the Supreme Court action Photo: Collins Courts
John Gilligan and son Darren arrive for the Supreme Court action Photo: Collins Courts
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The family of murdered journalist Veronica Guerin have spoken of their disgust after gangster John Gilligan said he prays for her.

Gilligan - who spent 17 years behind bars for drug trafficking, and who has had two attempts on his life - told the Irish Independent he "often prays for Veronica".

Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin

He made the claim just before he lost his appeal against the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) from seizing his last three remaining homes in Ireland.

But reacting to Gilligan's words, Veronica's brother Jimmy Guerin was disgusted.

Gilligan's daughter Tracey Photo: Collins
Gilligan's daughter Tracey Photo: Collins

"Gilligan's comments are another display of the total contempt he has for Veronica, her family and for everything that has happened since her killing," he said.

"I have deeper thoughts and comments on this prayer claim of his also, but they are not suitable for print," Mr Guerin added.

He also said Gilligan was "an immoral individual" who killed Veronica, not to stop her writing, but to halt an assault case she brought against him which would expose his crime empire.

Asked for his reaction to Gilligan losing his appeal and his loss of his three remaining homes, Mr Guerin said it would be a shallow victory if there was a delay in the CAB seizing the houses and selling them.

Gilligan's wife Geraldine Photo: Collins
Gilligan's wife Geraldine Photo: Collins

"I appreciate that there is due process in these matters, and that it will take time, but it will be a shallow victory until these properties are seized," he said.

"It has taken more than 20 years to get this far and it's time it ended now."

The Jessbrook site, where John Gilligan still lives in a cottage on the land
The Jessbrook site, where John Gilligan still lives in a cottage on the land

Convicted drug trafficker John Gilligan gave his wife the thumbs-up sign from across the courtroom as the judges prepared to deliver their ruling.

But within minutes, Gilligan and his family had lost their appeal on the ruling that gives the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) the right to seize three houses.

The CAB fought for more than 20 years to strip the crime boss of his properties on the basis that they were bought with the proceeds of crime.

It has already sold off his massive Jessbrook equestrian centre in Kildare and a house in Lucan for €870,000.

The decision of the Supreme Court means the CAB can now seize a bungalow beside the equestrian centre, a former family home in Corduff Avenue in Blanchardstown, Dublin, and another house in Willsbrook View in Lucan, Dublin.

"I am satisfied that the Gilligans are not entitled to succeed in the Greendale motions," Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said.

The five-judge court said the Gilligans had not established that a previous Supreme Court decision of 2008 came within rare or exceptional circumstance in which a final judgement may be set aside.

To do so, it would have been necessary to show that through no fault of their own, they had been the subject of a breach of constitutional rights, Ms Justice Dunne said.

"There is nothing extraneous in the circumstances of this case going to the very root of the fair and constitutional administration of justice which would necessitate the setting aside of the judgment of the Supreme Court of 2008", she added.

Gilligan looked both shocked and disbelieving of the outcome as he sat at the back of the court with his son Darren.

Read more: CAB praised for 'determination and dedication' as John Gilligan loses Supreme Court appeal

They left soon afterwards, and the man who was the boss of the gang that killed crime journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996 was then seen on his phone, reading passages of the ruling aloud.

A spokesman for the CAB said the bureau noted the judgment with satisfaction.

"This now brings these lengthy proceedings to a conclusion. The bureau disposed of a significant amount of the properties relating to this matter in 2014, including the former equestrian centre, and is now free to proceed to dispose of the remaining residential properties," he added.

A CAB investigator said the ruling was a fantastic result.

"It is because of Gilligan and the murder of Veronica Guerin that the CAB was set up. He is the reason we exist," he said.

"Now he has tested the law surrounding CAB to the very ends and in every court in the land it means he has copper-fastened our existence and it will make us more successful in seizing the assets of criminals and criminal gangs in the future.

"The ruling can be used as precedent now. Gilligan frustrated the system for 20 years but he has lost, and more like him will lose as a result."

Wealth

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the ruling sent a clear message to serious criminals: "We will take your wealth from you. What we see from these people is they get into these cycles and it takes every ounce of effort and resource of the State to stop it."

Ms Fitzgerald described the CAB as "one of a kind" and said its processes had been "heavily tested in the courts". She also praised her predecessor Nora Owen for setting up the bureau.

The CAB now has to wait for the Supreme Court to perfect its case in law before moving forward. "Once that is done we will be sending a letter to the Gilligans, through their solicitor, in which we will be seeking them to vacate the properties," said a spokesman.

"Then at that point we will be seeking sale and disposal of the houses."

Irish Independent

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