Thursday 14 December 2017

John Gilligan loses bid for taxpayers' money to fund case to regain assets

John Gilligan
John Gilligan

THE Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed a bid by drug dealer John Gilligan and his family for public funding for a forensic accountant's report for use in their litigation aimed at reversing the seizure of their properties by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

The five judge court rejected that pre-trial application by the Gilligans and also made directions aimed at having the "protracted" litigation, dating back to 1996, brought to "finality".

The court directed that applications by the Gilligans aimed at having the Supreme Court reconsider its decisions rejecting various constitutional issues raised by them will be dealt with prior to other appeals brought by them.

Neither John Gilligan, who was released from prison last year after serving a 17 year term for drug dealing, nor any other member of his family were in court.

The proceedings involving John and Geraldine Gilligan and their adult chidlren Darren and Treacy arise from an action initiated in 1996 by CAB for orders freezing the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre in Enfield, Co Meath, and two houses in Lucan, Co Dublin, on grounds they represented the proceeds of crime.

Since then, there have been many hearings, judgments and orders including a 2001 Supreme Court judgment rejecting a challenge by the Gilligans to the constitutionality of the relevant provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996.

In 2006, John Gilligan initiated further proceedings arguing provisions of the 1996 Act were both repugnant to the Constitution and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Legal aid was ultimately granted for pursuit of certain claims.

In 2011, the High Court ruled the relevant properties were bought with the proceeds of crime and no injustice was caused by allowing them remain subject of freezing orders. 

CAB then sought orders permitting sale of the properties and the Gilligans sought legal aid to finance a forensic accountant's report analysing whether the properties were bought with the proceeds of crime or as John Gilligan argued, with gambling winnings. 

The High Court refused legal aid for a report on grounds those issues had already been resolved in the 2011 judgment and it ultimately delivered a judgment permitting sale of the properties.

Various appeals by the Gilligans are currently before the Supreme Court arising from the various High Court decisions against them.  The Gilligans also want the Supreme Court to look again at its own decision rejecting their constitutional challenge.

The Supreme Court delivered judgment dismissing the Gilligans' appeal against the refusal of legal aid to fund a forensic accountant's report

Giving that judgment, Mr Justice Frank Clarke said there was no evidence to support claims a forensic accountants report was necessary to decide the issues in the appeal against the decision the properties were bought with proceeds of crime rather than gambling. 

What the Gilligans were seeking to do was re-open an issue already fully fought in the High Court on grounds of seeking to procure new evidence which they could have put before the High Court if they wished but did not.

It would be a "manifest injustice" to allow that, he said. Given his finding the report was unnecessary, it was therefore unnnecessary to sanction legal aid for procurement of any such report. 

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