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Gilligan to do full 20 years as new freedom bid fails

CONVICTED drug dealer John Gilligan has lost a High Court bid to have him released from prison.

In 2001, he received a 28-year sentence after being convicted of drugs offences at the Special Criminal Court, later reduced to 20 years on appeal.

In High Court proceedings against the Governor of Portlaoise Prison, the gardai, the DPP and the Attorney General, he sought an order that his detention at Portlaoise Prison was unlawful.

Mr Justice Michael Peart said yesterday, he was satisfied Gilligan "is detained on foot of a valid warrant", and his detention "is in accordance with the law".

Gilligan's trial and conviction followed his extradition from the UK on charges of importing cannabis resin.

In this case, he claimed the sentence he received here exceeded the maximum sentence which could be imposed if he was tried and convicted for the same offence in the UK.

He had claimed the maximum prison sentence he could have received in the UK was 14 years.

Mr Justice Peart held that Gilligan was "proceeding upon a fundamental misapprehension".

It was not the case that any sentence imposed in an Irish court cannot exceed the maximum sentence imposed by a State, for a corresponding offence, from where a person was extradited.

Any trial that takes place after extradition, the judge said, proceeds under Irish law. It is "Irish law which will determine the length of sentence which may be imposed".

The judge further dismissed Gilligan's claim that the DPP had not properly certified the offences for which he was tried before the Special Criminal Court. The judge said this was not an issue at this stage that could be argued by Gilligan.

If such a point was arguable, it was an issue to be determined prior to Gilligan's trial, he said.

"It cannot at this stage provide any basis for contending that his current detention is invalid," the judge added.

Earlier this year, Gilligan lost a High Court battle to regain control of properties seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau after a judge ruled his evidence was littered with lies.

hnews@herald.ie