John Gilligan to remain in custody in Northern Ireland

Court told €23,000 in his bag came from family, friends and sale of Rolex watch


A Dublin man accused of money laundering offences after being arrested at a Belfast airport with a bag containing nearly €23,000 must remain in custody, Northern Ireland’s High Court ruled on Friday.

John Gilligan was refused bail amid prosecution claims he had “sold up” and was leaving Ireland behind for a new life in Spain.

A judge also heard all cash in the 66-year-old’s suitcase came from family, friends and the sale of belongings such as a Rolex watch. Gilligan, with an address at Greenforth Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin, is charged with attempting to remove criminal property.

He was stopped at Belfast International Airport on August 23rd as he was about to board a flight to Alicante.

Crown lawyer Kate McKay said Gilligan informed a UK Border Force officer he had €23,000 in his luggage. Searches of a bag removed from the plane confirmed two bundles of cash which, along with currency he was carrying, came to €22,330.

Gilligan was arrested and taken to Antrim police station where he told National Crime Agency officers the money was a combination of donations from relatives and the sale of property. The cash was said to have been given to him to help start a new life in Spain. One man had allegedly purchased a watch from him for €5,000, the court heard.

Opposing bail, Mrs McKay accepted assertions that Gilligan is under a continuing threat to his life. She also expressed major concerns that he may flee if released.

“He has effectively sold up in the island of Ireland, and was planning to leave the jurisdiction when apprehended,” the barrister contended.

Defence counsel Plunkett Nugent argued it was Gilligan who notified customs about the money in his bag. Rejecting claims his client may abscond and not return, Mr Nugent pointed to his involvement in ongoing litigation in Dublin.

Gilligan only intended to rent a property in Spain for a period, the barrister said. Denying bail, however, Judge Patrick Kinney cited concerns the accused may flee.

“I’m not satisfied any conditions can be attached to ameliorate those risks,” he said.