Court dismisses Gilligan application
The High Court has dismissed an application by convicted drug dealer John Gilligan directing the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge him with the importation of 104 shipments of illegal drugs.
Gilligan also applied to the High Court for permission to bring constitutional challenges against the Misuse of Drugs and the Offences Against the State Acts and sought orders including that he be released from prison.
The application brought by Gilligan, who is serving a lengthy prison sentence at Portlaoise Prison, was rejected by Mr Justice McGovern on grounds including the proceedings amounted to a “collateral attack” on a conviction received “over 11 years ago.”
Gilligan was convicted by the Special Criminal Court in March 2001 of 11 offences of unlawfully importing cannabis resin into the State on various dates between July 1st, 1994 and October 6th, 1996, and unlawful possession of cannabis resin for sale or supply on the same dates. He was cleared of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in June 1996.
Lawyers acting for Gilligan, who was not present in court for the hearing, sought to bring High Court Proceedings against Ireland, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner, the Special Criminal Court, the Governor of Portlaoise Prison and the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Gilligan claimed that despite being convicted of six counts of possessing cannabis for the purpose of sale and supply and five counts of unlawful importation of cannabis the respondents, and in particular CAB, have treated him as if he was convicted of 104 counts of unlawful importation of illegal drugs.
During his trial reference was made to 104 shipments having come to Ireland, he claimed.
Gilligan argued that he was never charged with 104 counts of importation of drugs and he wanted to be charged with those offences in order to vindicate his rights and to allow the truth to definitively emerge.
CAB, he claimed, had proceeded on that basis that he had been convicted of 104 counts when applying to take his assets as the proceeds of crime.
Gilligan also sought an injunction restraining the respondents from continuing to assert that he is guilty of importing 104 consignments of drugs between 1994 and 1996 or any number of consignments of drugs greater than the five counts he was convicted of unless he is convicted of importing the 104 shipments following a trial.
His application was made on an ex parte basis.
Dismissing the application Mr Justice Brian McGovern said the application amounted to a “collateral attack” on a conviction, which was subsequently upheld on appeal by the Court of Criminal Appeal, more than a decade ago. The application he added was “vexatious.”
The judge said that he was further rejecting the application on the basis that the DPP is an independent officer and it was up to the Director whether a person should be charged with an offence or not. It was not a matter for the Courts to direct the DPP to charge anyone, the Judge added.
The judge also declined to make a recommendation under the attorney general’s scheme that legal aid be given for the application.
In his action Gilligan further sought a number of declarations from the court including that his 2001 trial before the Special Criminal Court following his extradition back to Ireland, was unlawful, and that his conviction was unconstitutional and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
He also sought declarations that his constitutional guarantee of the presumption of innocence was breached, that the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act and Section 29 of the offences against the State Act unconstitutional, and that it was contrary to law for the Special Criminal Court to rely the evidence given by Charles Bowden and Russell Warren at his 2001 trial.
He also sought orders quashing his conviction, that he be released from prison, and damages.