Northern Ireland news

John Gilligan in new bid for freedom

John Gilligan was arrested at Belfast International Airport on August 23 as he was about to board a flight to Alicante

A DUBLIN man accused of money laundering offences is set to go to the UK's highest court in a bid to secure release from custody.

John Gilligan was arrested at a Belfast airport last summer with a suitcase containing nearly €23,000.

The 66-year-old has been on remand in prison since then, with repeated bail applications denied.

His lawyers told a High Court judge he has suffered discrimination compared to those being held while awaiting trial in other parts of the UK.

They contended that unlike a 70-day maximum period operating in England and Wales, Gilligan has now been detained twice as long.

Refusing leave to take an appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr Justice McAlinden ruled today there was no point of law of general public importance.

"The court is satisfied that there is no discrimination in this particular case," he said.

But following the verdict Gillian's solicitor confirmed he will now petition directly for a hearing in London.

John Gilligan is to take his case to the Supreme Court in London

Niall O'Murchu said: "We will be taking Mr Gilligan's case to the Supreme Court and asking it to rule on the issue of detention time limits for the north of Ireland."

The accused, with an address at Greenforth Crescent, Dublin, was detained at Belfast International Airport on August 23 as he was about to board a flight
to Alicante.

At the time The National Crime Agency (NCA) said officers recovered around €23,000 euros from his luggage.

He faces a charge of attempting to remove criminal property.

At previous hearings the prosecution alleged he had "sold up" and was leaving Ireland behind for a new life in Spain.

The money in his suitcase was said to have come from donations and the sale of belongings. One man had allegedly purchased a watch from him for 5,000 euros, the court was told. Gilligan's legal team insisted he only intended to rent a property in Spain for a limited period of time.

The High Court in Belfast

Fresh attempts to secure his release in bail centred on claims of delay in the case.

When that was turned down last month, defence lawyers launched the application for leave to go to the Supreme Court.

They cited the maximum periods in England and Wales, and also Scotland, for an accused to be held in custody between a first court appearance and committal proceedings.

Gilligan, it was contended, is now approaching 140 days detention.

Counsel argued: "The applicant has been treated different in Northern Ireland than he would have been in Scotland or in England.

"That is a difference in treatment on the basis of his status as a prisoner on remand in Northern Ireland." 

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