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Gilligan is facing new charges over smuggled phones

NOTORIOUS gangster John Gilligan is due to be charged today at the Special Criminal Court today with possession of two mobile phones that were found during a court sitting.

The 59-year-old thug was arrested by detectives in the high security Portlaoise Prison this morning and was brought by army escort to the Courts of Criminal Justice in Dublin where extra security precaution were put in place.

After today's brief court sitting, he is expected to be transferred straight back to his cell in Ireland's maximum security jail.

Drugs

The former gang boss was busted when gardai discovered two mobile phones in Portlaoise District Court in March of last year while he was defending himself on charges of possessing an illegal phone in jail.

Sources say that the phones were brought to the court for the mobster by a Dublin based "very close associate" of his, whom the DPP has decided does not have a case to answer.

Convicted drugs trafficker Gilligan is serving a sentence of just under 23 years.

The alleged offence happened on the morning of March 30 last year, when Gilligan's case in relation to being caught with a phone in jail was briefly suspended while a search of the courtroom was carried out.

The two phones were confiscated by gardai from Portlaoise Garda Station who carried out a detailed investigation.

It is understood that the DPP decided that he be tried at the non-jury Special Criminal Court after the well-known gangland figure made a "farce" of the court system on the last occasion that he was charged with having an illegal mobile phone.

Those court proceedings cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of euro when the cocky criminal -- who is suspected of ordering the murder of crime journalist Veronica Guerin -- did everything in his power to make a "mockery" of the court system.

He appeared in Portlaoise District Court a staggering 48 times to deal with the relatively minor charge in a case that dragged on for 21 months.

In addition, he also appealed to the High Court to try to halt the prosecution but was unsuccessful -- all while on free legal aid.

At one stage, he demanded that 98 named prison staff members appear before the court to give evidence.

Finally, Gilligan was convicted in April of this year of the offence of having a mobile phone in his prison cell in Portlaoise in July 2008 when a SIM card, a charger, two pairs of ladies' underwear and tablets were also found.

Gilligan smiled and mockingly wiped his brow when he was jailed for an additional eight months on that charge.

Assaulted

Gilligan was the leader of a notorious drugs gang who flooded Ireland with cannabis during the mid 1990s. His gang was responsible for the murder of Guerin, whom he savagely assaulted just months before she was shot dead.

Gilligan was cleared of her murder but he was sentenced to 20 years for drug dealing. While in jail, Gilligan was convicted of threatening to kill two prison officers in March 2001. He was convicted in June 2002 and received two two-year sentences for the offence.

If convicted of the latest charges, he faces a maximum of five additional years in jail.

kfoy@herald.ie


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