John Gilligan granted bail to an address in west Belfast

Dublin man charged after being arrested with €23,000 in a suitcase at Belfast airport

John Gilligan. Photograph: Collins Courts

John Gilligan. Photograph: Collins Courts


A Dublin man arrested with €23,000 in a suitcase at Belfast airport has been released on bail on Monday after he told a judge: “I wouldn’t run”.

John Gilligan (66), with an address at Greenfort Crescent in Dublin, has been on remand in custody since last summer on a charge of ‘attempting to remove criminal property’ from Northern Ireland.

 The charge is that the defendant on August 23rd last year ‘attempted to remove criminal property from Northern Ireland, contrary to Article 3 of the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 and Section 327(1)(e) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Mr  Gilligan appeared at the Coleraine Magistrates Court via video link from Maghaberry Prison on Monday where a prosecutor said a decision had been taken to keep the case in the Magistrates Court.

The prosecutor said the directing officer in the case has now also made a decision to proceed on two charges including the charge Mr Gilligan had already been facing of attempting to remove criminal property and a new charge of possessing criminal property. The court heard Mr Gilligan is denying the charges. When told that the case was staying in the Magistrates Court and not going to the Crown Court, District Judge Liam McNally said that “dramatically” changed the issue of bail.

Mr Gilligan appeared via video link from Maghaberry Prison and the prosecutor confirmed that if found guilty, the maximum sentence the accused could face would be six months.


Mr Gilligan had actually served five months on remand, the equivalent of a 10 month sentence. The prosecutor said investigators had concerns about the defendant “absconding” but Judge McNally said if Mr Gilligan did not come back to court, the case against him would proceed in his absence and if convicted he could lose any bail and surety along with the cash which was seized.

The judge said it was unclear what the situation would be if a European Arrest Warrant had to be executed after the UK’s scheduled Brexit at the end of March.

When told he was getting out on bail, Mr Gilligan told the judge: “I will turn up for my case.” The defendant said he had been turning up court cases “since 1966”. Gilligan added: “I wouldn’t run”.

The court was told the bail address is at Springhill Close in west Belfast.

Regarding returning to court, Gilligan said: “I won’t let you down Judge, I never disrespect a court”.

Judge McNally granted bail to the Springhill Close address on the sum of £500 along with an independent surety of £5,000.