Gilligan properties can be sold after he loses case

Wed, Dec 21, 2011, 00:00

CONVICTED DRUG dealer John Gilligan has lost his latest legal challenge against orders that his assets and those of his family were the proceeds of crime.

Mr Justice Kevin Feeney, sitting at the Criminal Courts of Justice, made an order that a number of properties owned by Gilligan and his family members should be disposed of and transferred to the Minister for Finance under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

However the judge put a stay on the order in the event of an appeal against the High Court ruling to the Supreme Court.

The native of Ballyfermot, Dublin, was cleared in 2001 of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in June 1996, but 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.

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.

Earlier yesterday Gilligan was charged at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin with a fresh charge of having a mobile phone in Portlaoise District Court last year. That case has been adjourned to a later date.

In yesterday’s case about his property, the action was brought under section 3.3 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 by the Gilligans on the basis that an injustice may have been caused to them when freezing orders against properties were made in July 1997 by Mr Justice Michael Moriarty.

The properties include Jessbrook House in Enfield, Co Meath, where Geraldine Gilligan lives, an equestrian centre attached to it, the former family home at Corduff Avenue, Blanchardstown, Dublin, and two houses in Lucan that were bought by Gilligan for his son Darren and daughter Tracey.

Mr Justice Feeney put a stay on the disposal of the properties at Corduff Avenue, Jessbrook and Willsbrook View, Lucan, in the event of an appeal because they were or are family homes.

In the case of the house at Willsbrook View, which is owned by Tracey Gilligan, the judge found that she had paid for 20 per cent of the property but the remaining 80 per cent had been paid for by the proceeds of crime.

The judge ordered that when the property is disposed of, Tracey Gilligan should receive 20 per cent of the proceeds.

The judge also dismissed an application by Gilligan seeking to have the High Court declare the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 repugnant to the Constitution and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Justice Feeney said the Supreme Court had ruled that the European Convention on Human Rights Act of 2003, which incorporated the convention into domestic law, cannot be interpreted as having retrospective effect or affecting past events.

He said that the events, litigation and orders of which John and Geraldine Gilligan had made a complaint about related to matters that occurred before December 31st, 2003, when the European Act came into force.

The judge also said there had been no violation of Gilligan’s constitutional rights by the proceedings taken against him under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The latest legal action follows from the Supreme Court’s rejection in December 2008 of Gilligan’s claims that no definitive orders were made in the 1990s that the assets came from crime.

The Criminal Assets Bureau had argued the orders had been properly and fully dealt with. The Supreme Court, however, opened the door for the Gilligans to bring fresh High Court proceedings on the basis that an injustice may have been caused to them when the original orders were made.

In March, Gilligan was also given an eight-month prison sentence at Portlaoise District Court for having a mobile phone in his cell at Portlaoise Prison on July 30th, 2008.

During a 10-minute hearing at the Criminal Courts of Justice today, Gilligan was formally charged with having a mobile phone during preliminary hearings regarding the possession of the phone in the prison.