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Selling Gilligan's 'jewel' is just deserts for thug

It has taken 16 years. John Gilligan, one of Ireland's biggest thugs, has finally run out of road after exhausting every possible legal avenue.

The end came in the Supreme Court when the Criminal Assets Bureau was given permission to sell the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre.

It was the jewel in the multimillion-euro property portfolio, built up by Gilligan from his drug-trafficking enterprises.

He plotted his lengthy campaign to hold on to the Co Kildare complex from his cell at Portlaoise prison where he is serving a 20-year sentence for his drugs crimes.

Gilligan is due for release next year and he will not be qualifying for any early remission of his sentence.

Jessbrook had been important to him as it represented his delusional efforts to portray himself as a respectable, horse-owning country "squire" rather than a spiteful and savage crime boss, whose gang was responsible for the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.

It was equally important to the Criminal Assets Bureau as it was set up by the Govern-ment in 1996, following the Guerin murder, to take the ill-gotten gains back from the gangsters and Jessbrook was its first case and, in the early days, its raison d'etre.

Unfortunately, the long delay as the case wound its way through a tortuous court process, meant that the profits to the State from its sale will be much less than its value in the Celtic Tiger era.

And whether it will now be sold off as an equestrian centre or what one garda described as a glorified barn, will now depend on a report from engineers with Kildare County Council.

Irish Independent