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Couple arrested in UDA probe admit having £70k crime cash

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CONVICTED: Gail and John Lanigan

CONVICTED: Gail and John Lanigan

CONVICTED: Gail and John Lanigan

An Antrim couple convicted of selling dodgy football shirts, allegedly on behalf of the west Belfast UDA, have admitted having more than £70,000 of criminal cash.

Gail (50) and John 'Dougie' Lanigan (61) are set to lose their Portrush caravan which they bought for £22,500.

They appeared at Antrim Crown Court on Friday where defence lawyers asked for them to be re-arraigned on the first of six charges they faced.

The couple, of Tarragon Park, admitted to having criminal property, namely £73,360, between July 2013 and July 2019.

Prosecuting counsel Suzanne Gallagher asked for the remaining five counts to be "left on the books".

Those remaining charges, two counts of using criminal property and three of converting criminal property, accused the couple of converting criminal property by buying a caravan for £22,500 and decking worth £1,800 as well as gambling £8,258 and winning £1,443.

They were also accused of using £34,459 of criminal property on travel bookings and transactions as well as renting out a caravan.

Ms Gallagher said that while confiscation proceedings were being instigated, "the only asset is a caravan which is on a site in Portrush and it's not as straightforward as taking it off the site and having it sold".

Aaron Thompson, defence counsel for Mrs Lanigan, revealed that while the couple admit they are "criminally responsible," bank statements suggest a smaller amount than the £73k on the indictment.

He said the caravan, bought for £22,500 in August 2018, is now estimated to be worth half that amount, but highlighted the Portrush caravan site where it is situated is currently closed.

Adjourning sentencing until April 16, Judge Patricia Smyth said she would pass sentence once probation pre-sentence reports had been completed although there is a report from an earlier case.

Last June Dougie Lanigan and his wife received four-month and two-month suspended jail sentences after being convicted of selling dodgy Rangers and Man Utd football shirts.

At the time of their arrests, police said the charges related to a Paramilitary Crime Taskforce investigation into the criminal activities of the West Belfast UDA, including the sale of counterfeit goods."

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