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Sunday 28 May 2017

Twisted thug Gilligan says 'I often pray for Veronica'

John and Darren Gilligan arriving at the Four Courts in Dublin
John and Darren Gilligan arriving at the Four Courts in Dublin

Twisted drug trafficker John Gilligan embarked on a bizarre rant during which he said he prays for Veronica Guerin - the journalist brutally gunned down by his own gang.

In a shocking exchange with the Herald, the deluded gangster also boasted about his good health and arrogantly insisted that his conviction for drug trafficking was not based on "proper charges".

Gilligan made the sick comments just minutes before his appeal against the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) seizure of his last three remaining properties in Ireland failed.

The crime boss spent 17 years in jail and has escaped two attempts on his life since his release in 2014.

"I pray for Veronica Guerin. I often do," he said ahead of yesterday's landmark ruling.

The pint-sized gangster said he does not know any of the criminals currently engaged in Dublin's gangland activity.

He also said he would be setting up his own Facebook page in the coming weeks to counter a number of fake ones that already exist.

Fighting

Before the ruling, Gilligan had been in a buoyant mood.

Arriving early, he declined to make any comment, but then told the Herald he had spent more than 20 years in a battle for his rights.

"Twenty-one years. Twenty-one years I've been fighting for my rights," Gilligan said.

He then handed the Herald a copy of the original charge sheet from 1997, which was used to convict him of drug trafficking, and questioned its basis in law.

"They're my charges that I got convicted on. 'An unknown date.' Read that, why didn't you print that in the paper? It's the truth. It's an official document," he said.

"A conviction from the courts. 'On a date unknown'. How can you defend [in court] a date unknown between a six-month period, from the first day of January 1995 to the 30th day of June 1995?" As he continued complaining about the charge sheet in his bizarre rant, he pointed to a highlighted piece of text on the page.

"On a date unknown you did import cannabis," he read aloud.

"Not even an amount - and then they broke that down to five times over two-and-a-half years. How can you defend that [in court] over two-and-a-half years? They're not even proper charges," he said.

Gilligan then explained in detail, with full recollection of dates over the last two decades outlining court decisions and appeals, why he thought the CAB and garda cases against him were flawed.

Before he learned of the Supreme Court ruling, Gilligan would not comment on what he would do if he lost the case.

Asked about his health, he said he "couldn't be better".

"The only pains I have are growing pains. I have no lasting injuries," he said.

Gilligan also said that he would set up his own Facebook page in the coming weeks.

"There are loads out there already pretending to be mine, using pictures you put in the papers, but I'll do my own one and take my own picture," he said.

Gilligan then brought up the subject of Veronica Guerin without being prompted.

He falsely claimed that she had planned to give up journalism before her muder in 1996 and take on a project writing a movie script based on gangland crime in Ireland.

"With no disrespect to the girl, I pray for Veronica. I often do," he said.

Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin was shot dead as she drove back to Dublin from Naas District Court on June 26, 1996.

Gilligan was acquitted of her murder, but was eventually convicted of drug trafficking in 2001.

D-Day

Yesterday was D-Day for the Gilligan family after a long battle with the CAB, who had already sold off his massive Jessbrook equestrian centre in Kildare and a house in Lucan for €870,000.

He was fighting to hold on to a bungalow beside the equestrian centre where he has been holed up with his wife, Geraldine, for a number of months, a former family home on Corduff Avenue in Blanchardstown, and another house in Willsbrook View in Lucan.

When the panel of five judges entered the Supreme Court and everyone was asked to stand, Gilligan gave his wife a 'thumbs-up'.

However, within a minute he had lost his grip on the properties and the CAB had won.

"I am satisfied that the Gilligans are not entitled to succeed in the Greendale motions," was the opening line he heard.

The five-judge court said the Gilligans had not established that a previous Supreme Court decision of 2008 came within rare or exceptional circumstance in which a final judgment may be set aside.

Breach

To do so, it would have been necessary to show that, through no fault of their own, they had been the subject of a breach of constitutional rights, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said.

"There is nothing extraneous in the circumstances of this case going to the very root of the fair and constitutional administration of justice, which would necessitate the setting aside of the judgment of the Supreme Court of 2008", she added.

Speaking after the ruling, a CAB investigator said it was a fantastic result.

"It is because of Gilligan and the murder of Veronica Guerin that the CAB was set up. He is the reason we exist," he said.

"Now he has tested the law surrounding CAB to the very ends and in every court in the land it means he has copper-fastened our existence and it will make us more successful in seizing the assets of criminals and criminal gangs in the future.

"The Supreme Court ruling can be used as precedent now. Gilligan frustrated the system for twenty years but he has lost, and more like him will lose as a result," he added.

"The Bureau acknowledges the dedication, throughout the years, of the officers and staff, solicitor and counsel, and those who have contributed to finalising this issue.

A spokesman said: "This case shows the determination and dedication of the Criminal Assets Bureau to deny and deprive people of the proceeds of crime."

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