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Gardai eye €19m secret fortune of Gilligan's

FEARED criminal John Gilligan is just hours away from being freed from prison.

His release comes even after he lost his latest round of legal fights.

The one-time suspect in the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin is due out of high-security Portlaoise prison over the coming hours.

As he awaits freedom, the Supreme Court has thrown out another in a long line of appeals over his detention.

Gilligan had challenged the courts' legality to sentence him to consecutive jail terms for possession of mobile phones in jail after he was jailed for 20 years for drugs trafficking and subsequently two years for assaulting a prison officer.

He lost the appeal. His release date is tomorrow after spending 13 years and six months behind bars. It is not yet known if he will be granted release from the prison later today or whether prison authorities will hold him until tomorrow.

Gilligan issued a letter through his solicitors last week insisting he would not speak to the media even if all the newspapers and broadcasters paid him €1m each.

As he contemplates leaving Portlaoise jail, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is continuing to to hone in on his secret €19m stash.

A €300,000 property in Lucan, Dublin, is to be sold by the bureau in the near future to a mystery buyer.

Gilligan has admitted moving €19m to "where gardai could not get their hands on it" after the murder of Veronica Guerin (inset).

The Sunday Independent journalist was shot dead in 1996. Gilligan was acquitted of ordering her murder, but was sentenced to 28 years in jail reduced to 20 years on appeal, for smuggling cannabis.

Speaking on RTE radio, Veronica's brother, Jimmy, said that Gilligan should not be released from jail.

"He murdered my sister," he claimed. "I believe he should have been sentenced to life for the murder of Veronica.

"I think somebody like Gilligan should not be released back into society until he has shown remorse for his crimes.He shows no remorse."

The CAB has managed to seize cash, properties and cars from Gilligan under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The bureau put his Jessbrook equestrian centre up for sale last month after a 17-year-legal battle which cost taxpayers millions in legal aid. But gardai believe he still has hidden cash, possibly in North Africa.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Gilligan (61) has been receiving visits in prison from a friend, Samantha Dooner, while his wife has decided to stay away.

Dooner (31), who has no links with criminality whatsoever, has insisted that she is not involved with the crime lord.