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Gilligan portrays himself as hardworking gambler

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JAILED gangland boss John Gilligan has insisted he never got any money from criminal activity, but that it came from hard work and gambling.

He said he had been earning money from the time he was a young teenager. He said he had sold bundles of sticks, worked at sea, sold cars, leased trucks, made and sold prison art, and collected rubbish.

The convicted drug dealer (58) was giving evidence in a desperate High Court legal battle to get his seized properties, including his Jessbrook equestrian centre, back from the State.



Smuggling

He accused the judge in his drugs possession case of over-estimating the amount of drugs he was accused of importing.

Gilligan was convicted of importing and smuggling cannabis resin on dates between July 1994 and October 1996. He was given a 28-year prison sentence in 2001, but this was later reduced to 20 years by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

"The counsel in the Special Criminal Court made reference to 20 tonnes of cannabis resin. They said that to buy and sell it would come to £40m," he told a High Court sitting in Dublin.

"Then they estimated I would have made a profit of £17m -- that was said in the judgment of the court."

But Gilligan, who was acquitted of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996, refuted these figures. He said a more accurate figure would have been 180kg, alleging that the most profit he could have made was £134,000.

After the initial case he said he was assured that "the Court of Criminal Appeal would be able to fix it".

When asked by Mr Justice Kevin Feeney how much he actually made from the crimes, Gilligan replied: "I didn't have drugs, your honour. I wasn't guilty."

In a desperate attempt to reclaim four properties seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau in 1996, the crime boss said they were funded through hard work and gambling profits.

"I would have had a professional knowledge (of betting). I got barred out of several bookmakers for winning so much."

In a lengthy account of his working life, dating back to when he left school at 14, he said that by 17 he "can't remember a time when I couldn't lay my hands on a few thousand".

"I know at one stage I had £400,000."

The properties at the centre of the case are two houses in Lucan; the former family home in Blanchardstown; as well as Jessbrook House, which is attached to an equestrian centre in Co Meath, and is home to his separated wife Geraldine.

The hearing continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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