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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Pairs of women's underwear were found in search of Gilligan's cell

Court told mobile phone also seized

John Gilligan arriving at Portlaoise District Court yesterday where he faced charges relating to the
possession of a mobile phone in prison
John Gilligan arriving at Portlaoise District Court yesterday where he faced charges relating to the possession of a mobile phone in prison

Eoghan MacConnell

TWO pairs of women's underwear were uncovered during a search of convicted drug dealer John Gilligan's prison cell, a court has been told.

A mobile phone wrapped in cling film, a phone charger and various other items were found along with women's knickers during the criminal's cell search in Portlaoise Prison.

Yesterday's sitting of Portlaoise District Court heard evidence that several prison guards found the items at Cell 17 on E Landing on July 30 in 2008.

Gilligan (57), who is due for release in 2013, could serve an extra five years if convicted of the offence of possessing a mobile phone in prison. He has opted to represent himself in the case.

Prison Officer Martin Dunne, who had been working on E Landing on the night of July 29, recalled hearing a conversation in Gilligan's cell at around midnight.

"I heard a conversation going on inside. I couldn't see in the spy hole. It was blocked and I reported that," he explained.

The following morning, Assistant Chief Officer Tom Dunne was informed of the incident. He organised a search under the 2007 Prisons Act.

A number of officers then went to Gilligan's cell. Once he was taken from his bunk and searched, he was placed in an unoccupied cell.

A Nokia mobile phone, mobile phone charger, syringe bar and charging adapter were uncovered during the initial search of the cell. The phone, which had been wrapped in cling film, was discovered in the rubbish bin along with the charger.


During a later search, eight-and-a-half blue tablets and a sim card were recovered from a locker in the cell. The tablets were later analysed and found to be legal.

Two pairs of women's underwear were also uncovered during the searches of Gilligan's cell. These items were later disposed of.

During cross-examination, Gilligan accused a number of the officers of lying in their evidence. He also questioned one of the officer's credibility, alleging the man was under garda investigation for assaulting inmates.

He also claimed he had been denied access to a video player. The player was necessary to view his interview evidence taken during the investigation.

Judge Gerard Haughton told the prosecution the charge would be struck out if the allegation was proven.

However, on viewing a request book from the prison and hearing evidence from Governor Martin O'Neill, Judge Haughton said he was "satisfied that a request was not made".

At the beginning of the hearing, Gilligan requested Judge Haughton to step down from the case. He accused the judge of "bias".

He claimed an undertaking had been given by prosecution in October 2009 to prevent additional evidence being served.

"It is an abuse of my human rights and my constitutional rights," he said.

After hearing evidence from a number of employees of Portlaoise Prison, Judge Haughton adjourned the matter until February 12.

The hearing, designed to establish whether or not Gilligan has a case to answer, will continue with evidence from mobile phone providers, investigating gardai and members of the prison service.

Irish Independent

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