Mrs Gilligan expected to seek return of goods

 

LAWYERS for Mrs Geraldine Gilligan are expected to apply to the High Court today for the return of goods, following Wednesday's ruling that she was not liable for a £1.6 million tax bill. She is also expected to claim damages from the State for "illegal seizure of goods" and her lawyers may make a case for exemplary damages.

Unless the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) indicates that it will appeal Wednesday's ruling, Mr, Justice Morris is expected to grant the order. A Garda spokesman: said that the CAB was "considering an appeal". He said the bureau had 14 days from the date of the judgment to make its decision.

Ten horses, two jeeps, horse-boxes, furniture and appliances were seized from Mrs Gilligan's Jessbrook estate near Enfield, Co Kildare, last November.

Mrs Gilligan had been served with the tax demand by the chief legal officer of the CAB who claimed in court that Jessbrook derived from Mr John Gilligan's "conduct of criminal enterprise" Compensation for loss of earnings could be complex as the equestrian centre had not opened, a legal source said.

The summons issued by Mrs Gilligan against the authorities last November includes a provision for exemplary damages. For simple damages she will claim loss or injury suffered because the goods were seized.

The case for exemplary damages could be supported by the fact that the goods were seized by the State. "This could be seen as an unauthorised use of State, power," one legal expert said.

Mrs Gilligan's legal team may make an order for discovery of documents from the county sheriff for details of everything seized in November. The fact that 10, horses are involved could make damages "peculiarly difficult to guage," a source said. Damages may have to be assessed on the loss of siring rights, title and winnings in the case of any race-horses. If Mr Justice Morris does, rule that the goods should be returned, he is likely to set a court date to assess damages.

Mrs Gilligan's solicitor, Mr, Michael Hanahoe, was not available for comment yesterday.