Saturday 20 January 2018

Gilligan to fight eviction in Europe

Desperate drug dealer may make fresh bid to stay at Jessbrook home in human rights case

John Gilligan pictured at Jessbrook recently
John Gilligan pictured at Jessbrook recently
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Gangster John Gilligan may be heading for the European Court of Human Rights if his Supreme Court appeal against eviction from Jessbrook, his Co Kildare home, is thrown out, gardai believe.

Gilligan has returned to Ireland after fleeing following a gangland attempt on his life in 2014, and was recently confronted by the crime journalist, Paul Williams during the making of the TV3 documentary State of Fear.

Last Monday was the twentieth anniversary of the Garda's seizure of Gilligan's horse jumping arena, 50 acres of land and bungalow a few miles south of Enfield.

The Supreme Court is due to give judgment in what was believed to be Gilligan's last effort in this country to stave off the seizure of the entire Jessbrook property, including the bungalow which has been occupied by his wife Geraldine in recent years.

The seizure of Jessbrook, which cost Gilligan a reputed €1.5m to develop, was a symbol of the State's fightback against organised crime via the new Garda agency, the Criminal Assets Bureau, following the murder of Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996.

The High Court granted an order backing the seizure on July 16, 1997.

Gilligan immediately appealed and has been in court since. He moved back to Jessbrook following his release from prison in October, 2013 but left in March the following year after he was injured in the second attempt on his life. He returned earlier this year after spending more than a year hiding in England.

Gilligan, separately or together with his wife and children Tracey and Darren, has since challenged the seizure of Jessbrook and three other properties on various grounds in courts up to and including the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is currently preparing judgment in one of the Jessbrook cases it heard over two days in June.

Gilligan, his wife and children were represented by three Queen's Counsels from Gray's Inn in London. The three barristers are all listed as 'top flight' in UK lawyer approval ratings. Legal sources here said an Irish senior counsel might expect €10,000 per day in the Supreme Court but a top London QC might expect three times that amount.

Among the grounds on which Gilligan is appealing is breach of constitutional and human rights, which could take him to the European courts while aged in his 70s. The expectation is that Gilligan will continue his challenges probably under the European Convention on Human Rights to the European Court in Strasbourg.

A forensic accounting report on Gilligan's importing business in 1997 estimated that he had made a profit of nearly €17m in two years, the bulk of which remains unaccounted for and remains unrecovered.

So, despite pleading poverty and constantly seeking free legal aid for his appeals against the seizure of Jessbrook and other properties he may have the wherewithal to continue his efforts to take the case to Strasbourg. CAB seizures have dropped significantly in recent years.

Sunday Independent

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