John Gilligan to seek release from custody at UK’s highest court

66-year-old has been in prison since his arrest on money laundering charges in 2018

John Gilligan (66) was detained at Belfast International Airport on August 23rd last  as he was about to board a flight to Alicante. File photograph: Collins Courts

John Gilligan (66) was detained at Belfast International Airport on August 23rd last as he was about to board a flight to Alicante. File photograph: Collins Courts

 

John Gilligan, who was arrested at a Belfast airport last summer with a suitcase containing nearly €23,000, is set to go to the UK’s highest court in a bid to secure release from custody.

The 66-year-old has been on remand in prison since the arrest on money laundering charges, with repeated bail applications denied.

His lawyers told a High Court judge in Belfast he had suffered discrimination compared to those being held while awaiting trial in other parts of the UK. They contended that unlike a 70-day maximum period operating in England and Wales, Gilligan has now been detained twice as long.

Refusing leave to take an appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr Justice McAlinden ruled on Monday there was no point of law of general public importance.

“The court is satisfied that there is no discrimination in this particular case,” he said.

But following the verdict, Gillian’s solicitor said he would now petition directly for a hearing in London. Niall O’Murchu said: “We will be taking Mr Gilligan’s case to the Supreme Court and asking it to rule on the issue of detention time limits for the North of Ireland.”

The accused, with an address at Greenforth Crescent, Dublin, was detained at Belfast International Airport on August 23rd as he was about to board a flight to Alicante.

At the time, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said officers recovered about €23,000 from his luggage. He faces a charge of attempting to remove criminal property.

At previous hearings the prosecution alleged he had “sold up” and was leaving Ireland behind for a new life in Spain. The money in his suitcase was said to have come from donations and the sale of belongings.

One man had allegedly purchased a watch from him for €5,000, the court was told.

Gilligan’s legal team insisted he only intended to rent a property in Spain for a limited period of time.