Gilligan secures order aimed at detering buyers of estate
Convicted drug dealer successfully applies to court for order aimed at deterring prospective buyers of Jessbrook
Members of the media await the release of John Gilligan at Portlaoise Prison this morning. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
John Gilligan: gang leader who was acquitted of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin was due for release from Portlaoise Prison this morning, having spent the past 17 years in jail for drugs offences. Photograph: PA
The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) has been forced into a fresh round of litigation over the Jessbrook estate of convicted drug dealer John Gilligan, after the 61-year-old successfully applied to the High Court to secure an order aimed at deterring prospective buyers.
The gang leader who was acquitted of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin was due for release from Portlaoise Prison this morning, having spent the past 17 years in jail for drugs offences.
News that Gilligan has launched the High Court action emerged yesterday on the day that the bureau, via the Office of Public Works, received its first firm bids for the Jessbrook show jumping arena and stables and adjoining land.
Gilligan’s wife Geraldine still lives in a house on the land. This property and the small parcel of land it sits on are not for sale because the Cab’s case in relation to it is still before the Supreme Court.
The other lands, the arena and related buildings near Johnstownbridge on the border between Kildare and Meath were offered for sale in mid-September after Gilligan lost the last of his appeals in the courts against the State seizing the assets.
However, while it seemed he had exhausted all his appeal options after a 17-year legal battle while he was on free legal aid, he has been successful in securing a notice of lis pendens, or suit pending. It effectively amounts to a public notice warning that the estate is subject to litigation.
It means that if the estate was sold and Gilligan later won his case, the asset would have to be reinstated to him.
Gilligan secured the notice in the High Court on September 18th in an application in which he was joined by his wife, son and daughter.
As part of the same application, he is attempting to reopen the case in a bid to win back the estate.
The Cab must now return to court to outline why it believes its case against Gilligan and the seizure of the estate is legally sound. If the High Court agrees, the notice of lis pendens would be vacated.
In the meantime, the €500,000 estate, split into three lots, can still be sold, but with any buyer aware that the transaction may one day be successfully challenged and reversed.