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Two phones found in courtroom at Gilligan hearing

JAILED gangland boss John Gilligan was under investigation by gardai last night after two mobile phones were found in a courtroom where he is defending himself against a similar charge.

Gilligan appeared before a sitting of Portlaoise District Court yesterday to contest the charge that he had been in possession of a phone in his cell in the maximum-security jail. He claimed that he had no knowledge of the phone.

However, during the sitting gardai received information that a phone had been passed to Gilligan. The case was adjourned by the judge to allow a proper search be carried out by gardai and later reconvened in another court in the building.

During the search, gardai found a mobile phone in a bag that Gilligan had been using to hold documentation for his defence in court.

Further inquiries uncovered a second phone taped underneath a bench where Gilligan had been sitting during his case.

The two phones were confiscated and further inquiries into the finds were under way last night. Gilligan was returned to his cell in Portlaoise Prison after the hearing and the case will resume this morning.

During the case, Gilligan (58) alleged he was being "stitched up" and that the phone found in his cell had been planted.

The convicted drug dealer is charged with possessing a phone and SIM card at his cell on July 30, 2008.

He also accused investigation officers of not complying with regulations during the investigation.

Gilligan claimed that the case was processed "willy nilly" and while he admitted a single non-compliance "wouldn't amount to a hill of beans", he said there were numerous examples of mistakes in dealing with his case.

When the prosecution argued that some of the evidence from his interview tapes might be prejudicial to people who had no way to defend themselves, Gilligan complained about his "constitutional rights" and said: "I want to show where I was stitched up in places, and it is an ongoing thing."

The maximum sentence for possessing a mobile phone in jail under the Prisons Act is five years. The case continues today before Judge Haughton.