Tuesday 15 October 2019

Gilligan fails in new bid to win freedom

John Gilligan told the court: ‘I just want to get on with my life’
John Gilligan told the court: ‘I just want to get on with my life’

Alan Erwin

John Gilligan has failed in his latest bid to be released from custody.

The Dublin criminal is accused of money-laundering offences after he was arrested at a Belfast airport with a bag containing nearly €23,000.

He was refused bail again yesterday despite insisting the cash came from family and friends.

Appearing via video-link from prison, he told a High Court judge in Belfast: "I just want to get on with my life."

During the fresh hearing, prosecutors also disputed claims that his life is under threat. Gilligan (66), with an address at Greenforth Crescent, Dublin, was detained at Belfast International Airport on August 23 as he was about to board a flight to Alicante.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said officers recovered around €23,000 from his luggage. He faces a charge of attempting to remove criminal property.

At previous hearings, the prosecution alleged he had "sold up" and was leaving Ireland behind for a new life in Spain. The money was said to have come from donations and the sale of belongings.

One man had allegedly purchased a watch from him for €5,000, the court was told.

But Gilligan's legal team insisted he only intended to rent a property in Spain for a limited period of time.

With bail refused last month due to concerns the accused could abscond, he returned to the High Court in a bid to establish a change of circumstances.

Defence barrister Plunkett Nugent stressed the need to keep any subsequent living arrangements undisclosed, saying Gilligan faces an "immediate" threat to his life.

However, Crown counsel said: "The position the prosecution are now taking is they are not accepting there's a threat to the applicant's life."

The renewed bid to be released from custody was based on newly available documents which demonstrate Gilligan fully complied with bail terms in a separate case from the 1980s.

His lawyers argued he has no intention of fleeing while involved in ongoing legal proceedings over a "vast property portfolio" in the Republic.

Mr Nugent also submitted that letters have been sent to the NCA setting out accounts of money given to the accused. "That demolishes the case that is alleged against the defendant," he said.

During proceedings, Gilligan insisted he has never before refused to attend court, describing his "respect" for the authorities.

"I committed no crime whatsoever, that money was made up from my family," he added.

But denying bail once more, Judge Patrick Kinney held that no change in circumstances had been established.

"There's a limit to what the court can properly do when matters are brought back at such short notice," he said.

Irish Independent

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