District judge excuses himself from airport cash case

John Gilligan
John Gilligan

A man arrested last month while allegedly attempting to flee the country with a suitcase of cash to begin a new life in Spain, was remanded back into custody for another week on Tuesday after a district judge excused himself from the case.

John Gilligan appeared before Antrim Magistrates Court via a video link from Maghaberry Prison where he has been held since his arrest on August 23 at Belfast International Airport by officers from the National Crime Agency.

The 66-year-old, with an address in Greenforth Crescent, Dublin, is charged with attempting to remove over €22,000 by way of criminal property from Northern Ireland, contrary to both the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy Order, and the Proceeds of Crime Act.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he could not deal with the case because in the past, as a partner in a firm of solicitors, he had helped represent Gilligan when he appeared before the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.

Mr Broderick said he wanted to refer the matter back to Coleraine, but that the district judge in the North Antrim Court was currently on leave, and he would need to “canvas” his views and he was therefore “minded to adjourn the matter for a week”.

Earlier the prosecution had sought a four-week adjournment, telling the court that there is “a mobile phone to be examined and international lines of enquiry to be pursued”.

However, Jim McGinnis, of Ian McFarland Solicitors, objecting to the lengthy adjournment said he had received “firm instructions to seek the shortest possible remand”.

“Mr Gilligan is 66 and he does not enjoy good health,” added Mr McGinnis, who also revealed that since being taken into custody, Gillian has been taken to hospital.

The solicitor told the court of a 2014 attempt on Mr Gilligan’s life in which he was shot six times.

It was then that Mr Broderick informed the parties that, “I cannot deal with this case”, and outlined his reasons.

Last month when initially before the Coleraine court, it heard that Mr Gilligan claimed he was “under a sentence of death and had been ordered out of Ireland”, and that the seized Euros had come from his family and the sale of property.

Mr Gilligan had readily volunteered he was carrying the cash when questioned by members of the UK Border Force at the international airport.

In all €22,280, in two bundles, was uncovered from his luggage taken from a Spanish-bound jet.

The district court was also told that in the past Gilligan had served 17 years of a 28-year sentence.

However, his solicitor said the Dubliner had not “been in any bother” or come to the attention of An Garda Síochána since his release from prison.

He recently “sold almost everything he has in the world in order to get the required funds to get out of Great Britain and make a fresh start in Spain”.