NewsCrime Desk

From riches to rags; The gangsters who once had it all - Part 2

John Gilligan
John Gilligan

They once had it all, but in a world ruled by a bullet and where justice can be quick and swift, a fortune made from crime can come and go in the blink of an eye.

A criminal empire is a quick and ruthless way to the exclusive world of the millionaire. But like everything that comes easily, it can also be lost in the blink of an eye.
From the original millionaire Larry Dunne to John Gilligan, here are gangland’s biggest losers.

Check out Part 1 of our Riches to Rags list here

John Gilligan

In just two years, John Gilligan’s gang imported €60million worth of cannabis into Ireland and he was on his way to becoming the richest drug dealer in Irish history, until his temper stopped him in his tracks.

Gilligan (main image) and his cronies travelled in chauffeur-driven limos and bought up properties, yachts and villas in Ireland and Spain.

The pint-sized thug famously bought his own equestrian centre and hoped to live out his days with wife Geraldine as Lord and Lady of the Manor.

But when he gave the order for the murder of Veronica Guerin, everything changed.

This year a Sunday World sting proved how far he has fallen when his daughter Treacy tried to sell their pub in Alicante to our undercover team.

Fat Tony Armstrong

Dublin thug ‘Fat’ Tony hasn’t got the proverbial seat in his pants after a spectacular fall from grace in Alicante.

The 44-year-old was running busy bars, partying at his gated villa and looking after business interests for caged drug lord John Gilligan.

But when he was charged in connection with the murder of psychopathic drug dealers Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg it all went wrong. When he got out of jail on €55,000 bail put together by friends, he couldn’t seem to get back on his feet.

Now he squats in empty houses on the Costa Blanca and scrimps to get by with two young children.

Richard Agnew

Brothel boss Richard Agnew once ran one of the busiest red light districts in the world, but when he went bust he had to leave it all behind him and flee the Philippines for his life.

Former RUC cop Agnew made a fortune from his Golden Nile Club in Angeles City, where ex-military men from Korea, Germany and the U.S. packed his venue looking for sex.

But after his best pal was shot dead Agnew was forced to flee the country and make his way to Vietnam and then on to the U.K., where he hopes to establish himself in renewable energies.

“I pushed my luck far enough. I had to leave the keys in the door and go for my life,” he said.

Brian Rattigan

Gang boss Brian Rattigan (below) was on his way to become a real cocaine millionaire until the violence of his past caught up with him. The caged killer headed up one side in the Crumlin-Drimnagh drugs war that raged for years while flooding Dublin with vast quantities of drugs.

Even after he was jailed he continued to run his business from his prison cell and got a further 17 years for a €1m heroin seizure.

Rattigan has lost it all, while his arch rival ‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson enjoys his freedom.

Serving life in prison, he was even dumped by his former girlfriend and the mother of his children Natasha McEnroe.

Lee Cullen

Car dealer Lee Cullen was hit with a CAB bill of over €2.5million after years of trading in high-end vehicles during the Celtic Tiger years.

The one time close pal of Jim Mansfield Jnr only managed to avoid jail when he was given a two year suspended sentence for evading VRT on Range Rovers.

Cullen, an associate of the late model Katy French, loaned the tragic model a €100,000 Range Rover, which she was driving on the night she suffered a cocaine-induced heart attack.

Cullen had to hand over his Spanish villa to the CAB and told a court that he now lives in Birmingham where he works for €600 a week and has a €300,000 loan hanging over him.