Gardaí believe John Gilligan may have escaped would-be assassin

Handgun thrown from motorbike being examined

John Gilligan on being released from Portlaoise Prison 	Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

John Gilligan on being released from Portlaoise Prison Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 15:37

Gardaí are trying to establish if the convicted drug dealer John Gilligan escaped being shot yesterday afternoon when a would-be attacker targeted the wrong pub.

Armed detectives responded to reports of an incident at the Halfway House pub in Ashtown, north Dublin, when a man wearing a motorbike helmet entered the premises.

The man walked around, apparently armed and looking for somebody but when he was unable to find him fled the scene on a motorbike.

The gardaí who responded to the incident chased a man on a motorbike into nearby Finglas but were unable to bring him to a stop. A handgun was thrown from the bike and was taken away by detectives for examination.

Gardai are working on the theory that the suspect on the motorbike believed John Gilligan was in the Halfway House and wanted to shoot him.

However, it is believed the recently freed gang leader was in another public house less than a mile away. The incident occurred at around 4pm.

The 61-year-old Dubliner was released from Portlaoise Prison in October after spending 17 years in jail. He served the vast majority of that time for drugs offences and a small portion for crimes committed in jail, including possessing mobile phones and threatening prison officers.

He has stayed for some periods with his brother in his home in Clondalkin but has also been seen at the home of his estranged with wife Geraldine at the Jessbrook estate on the Kildare-Meath border.

Gardai believe he may have crossed rival criminals while in prison serving his sentences on the E1 landing of Portlaoise Prison where serious criminals involved in organised crime are held.