Former crime boss John Gilligan granted free legal aid to appeal assets seizure
FORMER gang boss John Gilligan, his ex-wife and their two children, were yesterday granted free legal aid to pursue an appeal over the seizure of properties found to have been bought with the proceeds of crime.
The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) had opposed the Gilligans' application saying the father had not disclosed a number of other assets which were not the subject of the proceeds of crime orders and he could therefore afford to fund his own appeal.
But the Supreme Court yesterday said that given that the Gilligans' financial circumstances had not changed since they lost their High Court case to prevent CAB taking possession of a number of properties, including Jessbrook Equestrian Centre in Enfield, Co Meath, it was satisfied to grant them legal aid certificates.
The Gilligans had previously got legal aid after arguing they could not fund lawyers because their assets were frozen.
They were represented yesterday by three London-based Queen's Counsels, Michael Bromley-Martin for John Gilligan, John Hardy for ex-wife Geraldine Gilligan, who was in court, and Paul Garlick for the children, Darren and Tracey.
Apart from the application for legal aid, the court was also asked by CAB to strike out the Gilligans' entire appeal over alleged failure to prosecute the matter in good time.
The appeal arises out of a decision in January 2011 of the High Court's Mr Justice Kevin Feeney that most of the Gilligan assets were the proceeds of crime. These included Jessbrook where Geraldine lived and two houses in Lucan, Dubin, owned by Tracey and Darren.
The Gilligans claimed the properties were bought from legitimate earnings including from a st£4m loan to John - currently coming towards the end of a 20 year sentence for drug dealing - to renovate his properties and from his gambling actitivites. Mr Justice Feeney said he found these explanations incredible and improbable.
Yesterday, Ben O'Floinn BL, for CAB, said that although certain efforts had been made by the Gilligans' lawyers in the last two weeks to file their books of appeal, they had not been formally lodged because they lacked attested copies of Mr Justice Feeney's judgements which were the subject matter of the appeal.
Given the history of delay in this case and failure to expedite the appeal, CAB was still seeking to have the appeal struck out, he said.
Mr O'Floinn said there was also the issue of whether the Gilligans were entitled to effectively re-litigate matters which had already been dealt with by the Supreme Court as far back as 2008.
Martin Canny BL, appearing with Mr Bromley-Martin QC, for John Gilligan, said due to time pressures, it had not been possible to pair down the written grounds of appeal so as not to repeat matters which had already been litigated, but that would be addressed during submissions as part of the appeal.
Chief Justice Susan Denham, sitting with Mr Justice Frank Clarke and Mr Justice John MacMenamin, said given that the only issue in relation to the books of appeal was the lack of an attested judgment, the court would not strike out the appeal. However, it ordered the appeal be lodged immediately with a plain copy of the judgment and that the attested copy be lodged expeditiously.
The court also said the appeal would benefit from case management which Mr Justice Clarke will supervise.