Tuesday 17 September 2019

No justice as John Gilligan walks free

Only the victims of crime suffer as criminal thugs abuse our flawed judicial system, writes Jimmy Guerin

First they released Larry Murphy, now it's John Gilligan, both amoral individuals who have terrorised women and shown no remorse. The release of these animals back into our society confirms one thing, that it's only ever the victims of crime who really serve a life sentence.

While Gilligan walks away from prison and moves back into the life he enjoyed prior to arranging the killing of Veronica, others affected by this horrible crime still suffer a loss and pain which they will take to their graves with them.

Families who have lost loved ones to the scourge of drugs must also feel pain as Ireland's biggest drug dealer is back on our streets.

Gilligan, however, will be able to enjoy the millions he has no doubt stashed from his drug-dealing and arms-trafficking offences. Is it right that this monster is allowed walk free when respected judges who presided over his trial expressed their suspicions that Gilligan played a major role in organising Veronica's murder?

For those of us affected by this crime it seems like only yesterday – and I have no doubt that Gilligan's sentence flew by for him also.

This seasoned criminal has been in and out of prison all his adult life, he is accustomed to spending long spells in prison. The thoughts of being convicted for the most serious of crimes is no real deterrent and for that reason we need to look at and change the prison system. We need to take whatever steps are required to stop this automatic remission, where a prisoner automatically gets three months off in 12. This makes a joke of a sentence when a judge determines that someone should serve 20 years and in reality they will serve no more that 15.

While in prison these prisoners are among friends, they socialise, they have privileges. They spend their days in the gym where they exercise between hot meals, which so many hard-working people cannot afford. If they become ill they have medical facilities that are second to none while thousands are on waiting lists and others sit on chairs in the degrading surroundings of our hospital A&E departments.

Some years back, while writing for the Sunday Independent, I wrote about a prisoner in Mountjoy. He refused to leave prison because he was completing a degree course. The prison authorities allowed him to stay and obtain his degree. Does it appear that prison bothered this man? Not only did we pay €70,000 a year to keep him in prison, he refused to leave when he had the chance.

This is the same criminal who is now regarded as the number one drug dealer in Europe and who is believed to be worth an estimated €500m.

It is no wonder criminals laugh and give society the two fingers as they're led away to serve their prison sentences.

Another story I covered was the wedding of Pearse McAuley, one of those found guilty of the manslaughter of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe. I attended the church where I saw this convicted killer arrive in a car with his friends and begin his wedding celebrations while serving a prison sentence for what was one of the most horrific killings ever carried out in this State.

Gilligan's stay in prison cost the taxpayer millions when you consider that he has availed of legal aid to play the system – which has allowed him to challenge each and every decision of the courts in the matter of Jessbrook.

When we consider that in his last conviction a judge sentenced him to six months for possession of a mobile phone and in his wisdom decided that the sentence would be concurrent, the reality is that Gilligan had many days out exploiting the legal system, and in the end received no punishment at all when convicted as charged.

This man we are letting back into society is a thug who, since he has been sentenced to prison, continued to run his drug empire, terrorised people from his prison cell and threatened the lives of prison officers who dared to cross him.

Does this seem like a man who has changed his ways, does this seem like a man who should be allowed back into society where he can again terrorise women and threaten a journalist who crossed him that he would rape their child?

These are things he has admitted to in the past, does anyone really think that this animal has changed while in prison? Let's change this bizarre system before it's too late and these animals strike again.

- Jimmy Guerin

Jimmy Guerin is a brother of Veronica Guerin who was murdered while investigating the activities of John Gilligan.

Sunday Independent

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