A litigious prisoner who became a familiar presence in court
Gilligan represented himself after sacking legal team
Over his 16 years in detention, John Gilligan became a familiar presence in court
John Gilligan has been a litigious prisoner.
Over his 16 years in detention, the convicted drug deal- er became a familiar presence in court, where he challenged his conviction, his sentence, his treatment in prison and attempts to seize his assets.
At times he would represent himself; always, he would be accompanied to court by a cavalcade of squad cars and a phalanx of photographers.
As late as yesterday, with just hours to go to his release, Gilligan was at the centre of two legal actions winding their way through the Four Courts. In the morning, the Supreme Court dismissed his constitutional challenge to the law under which he received consecutive sentences of six and eight months for having mobile phones in prison.
A few hours later, it emerged that Gilligan had initiated a new High Court action to try and stop the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) selling his Jessbrook equestrian centre in Co Meath, which has been on the market for the past month.
Jessbrook, first seized by the courts more than 15 years ago, has been at the centre of a long-running legal battle between the Gilligan family and the Garda Síochána.
The dispute culminated in a ruling in November last year, when the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Gilligan’s wife, Geraldine, and his adult children, Treacy and Darren, who sought to block the disposal of the assets.
That decision cleared the way for the sale of the 3,500- seat equestrian centre, 90 acres, 30 stables and an apartment, as well as a house at Weston Green in Lucan.
Gilligan though does not own these assets, the courts have ruled they were funded or part-funded with the proceeds of crime.
Gilligan was cleared in 2001 of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in June 1996. He was convicted by the Special Criminal Court in March 2001 of 11 offences of unlawfully importing cannabis resin between July 1st, 1994, and October 6th, 1996, and unlawful possession of cannabis resin for sale or supply on the same dates.
Gilligan was originally sentenced to 28 years in prison for the drugs offences, but this was reduced on appeal to 20 years. He was also convicted in June 2002 of threatening to kill two prison officers in March 2001 and was given a two-year prison sentence to run consecutively after the 20-year sentence.
He was later convicted on further charges relating to the possession of mobile phones.
In January 2010, while defending himself at a preliminary hearing against a charge of possessing a mobile phone and sim card at this cell in Portlaoise prison on July 30th, 2008, Gilligan requested a change of judge after accusing the sitting judge of being prejudiced against him.