Belfast Telegraph

Criminal's estate to be sold off

Detectives are selling off an Olympic-sized equestrian centre after an epic 16-year battle to seize the assets of one of Ireland's most notorious criminals.

Convicted drug trafficker John Gilligan's losing fight with the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) will also see one of his houses at Weston Green, Lucan, jointly owned with his son Darren, go on the open market within weeks.

However, ongoing legal challenges mean his wife Geraldine will, for now, be able to stay on at their house adjoining the infamous equestrian centre in Jessbrook, Mucklon, Co Kildare.

CAB officers are also pursuing properties at Corduff Avenue, in Blanchardstown, west Dublin and Willsbrook View, in Lucan.

Gilligan, 59, has claimed in court the only reason he was being pursued was because of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin. He was cleared of the killing but sentenced to 20 years in Portlaoise Prison for drug trafficking.

Gardai have been trying to take control of his properties through proceeds of crime laws, set up in the wake of the Guerin killing, since November 1996.

A source said: "It is one of the longest cases in CAB at the moment before the courts. They have appealed every facet of the Proceeds of Crime Act and Criminal Assets Bureau Act all the way up and down the system."

But the drawn-out attempts to retain the properties - once valued at more than 6 million euro - faltered last Friday when the Supreme Court threw out Gilligan's latest appeal.

The ruling means the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre, along with 90 acres of land, and the house at Weston Green in Lucan, were handed over to the state. The Office of Public Works (OPW) has asked the CAB to dispose of the assets on behalf of the government.

A source said: "We'll be doing that as quickly as possible. If not before Christmas, then the new year at the very latest."

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