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Gangster John Gilligan (70) to stand trial later today on drugs and weapons charges in Spain

Authorities have warned criminal he faces more than eight years in jail

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John Gilligan

John Gilligan

John Gilligan in handcuffs following his arrest in Spain. Picture: Solarpix

John Gilligan in handcuffs following his arrest in Spain. Picture: Solarpix

Spanish police picture of the arrest of John Gilligan. Photo: Solarpix

Spanish police picture of the arrest of John Gilligan. Photo: Solarpix

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John Gilligan

Gangster John Gilligan has been ordered to stand trial on Tuesday in Spain on drugs and weapons charges.

The convicted drug dealer, prosecuted but found not guilty over the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, has been warned he faces more than eight years in jail if convicted.

State prosecutors demanded an 18-month prison sentence for unlawful weapons possession after a gun that Spanish police linked to the Irish crime reporter’s 1996 assassination was found hidden in the back garden of Gilligan’s Costa Blanca home.

When he was arrested in October 2020, detectives said the gun was the “same make and model” as the one used to kill Guerin in an ambush in June 1996.

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John Gilligan in handcuffs following his arrest in Spain. Picture: Solarpix

John Gilligan in handcuffs following his arrest in Spain. Picture: Solarpix

John Gilligan in handcuffs following his arrest in Spain. Picture: Solarpix

But Spanish state prosecutors went on to describe it as a Colt Defender and not the rare Colt Python .357 Magnum police identified it as immediately after Gilligan was detained.

The 70-year-old is also expected to be told prosecutors also want him jailed for another two years if convicted of smuggling cannabis into Ireland, four years for illegally exporting powerful sleeping pills and 10 months for membership of a criminal gang.


His British girlfriend Sharon Oliver and son Darren have also been summoned to stand trial along with his playboy pal ‘Fat’ Tony Armstrong.

Armstrong, investigated but never charged over the murders of Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg after their bodies were discovered under a Costa Blanca warehouse he rented in July 2006, was held in a second round of arrests in February four months after the raid on Gilligan’s expat home.

A pre-trial indictment submitted to court officials after a judicial probe accused Gilligan of masterminding a plot to smuggle drugs from Spain to Ireland inside toys and flip-flops.

Prosecutors say the drugs included cannabis and prescription-only sleeping pills dubbed “zimmos”.  

The six-page indictment, formulated against Gilligan and eight alleged accomplices, including his partner and son, details the operation put in place by a Spanish police unit dedicated to organised crime.

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Spanish police picture of the arrest of John Gilligan. Photo: Solarpix

Spanish police picture of the arrest of John Gilligan. Photo: Solarpix

Spanish police picture of the arrest of John Gilligan. Photo: Solarpix

The operation, which involved phone-tapping and cars being followed, ended with a series of arrests on October 20, 2020.


Gilligan, who was released from prison in Ireland in October 2013 after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence
for trafficking cannabis resin, was the only one of the nine people charged over the weapons find.


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