Former gang boss John Gilli- gan has received an early birthday present after learning he will not have to attend court on the day he turns 67.
Gilligan was arrested with €22,280 in a suitcase at Belfast International Airport last Aug-ust as he was about to board a plane to Spain.
He was released on bail while the trial is ongoing and has been excused from attending his next court date on March 29 - his 67th birthday.
Gilligan, with an address listed in west Dublin, was in the public gallery at Coleraine Magistrates' Court yesterday, even though he had previously been told he did not have to appear.
He is currently on bail and was in the courtroom, 250km from Dublin, from at least 10am.
There was a delay in the proceedings beginning at the normal time of 10am, and he sat on for more than half-an-hour until his case was called.
He denies two charges he faces, and a contest date has been fixed for next month.
Yesterday's proceedings were listed for a review of the case, and the matter has been adjourned to March 29 for a further review.
There was no mention in court of it being the defendant's birthday.
A defence lawyer told Deputy District Judge Sean O'Hare that the defendant was present in court, though he had been previously told he did not have to attend.
He said his client "has some distance to travel" and asked if he could be excused on March 29, which was agreed by the court.
The first charge Gilligan faces is that last August 23 he attempted to remove criminal property from Northern Ireland.
The second charge relating to the same date is that he was in possession of criminal property, namely €22,280.
Gilligan had spent several months in custody in relation to the charges, and when he was granted bail he pledged to show up at a subsequent court, telling a judge: "I wouldn't run."
At a recent court hearing, a prosecutor confirmed that if found guilty the maximum sentence the accused could face would be six months.