WATCH: We find crime godfather John Gilligan hiding out in his top-secret bolthole
HUNTED Godfather of Crime John Gilligan is hiding out from his enemies – in his own back yard.
The pint-sized drug lord has spent months avoiding the media and potential hitmen after surviving two assassination attempts.
However, this week the Sunday World found his latest bolthole.
After months of moving around halting sites in the U.K. under the protection of Limerick’s Dundon clan,
Gilligan is now lying low in the beloved Jessbrook house that his wife Geraldine is battling to avoid being seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).
Our exclusive snaps also expose the Gilligans’ big lie.
In a desperate bid to keep her home, Geraldine insisted to the courts that she is separated from her drug-dealing husband.
But when our team finally caught up with ‘Factory John’ he looked very much at home, felling trees with his son on the four-acre property where he once attacked Veronica Guerin, the courageous reporter he organised to have murdered 25 years ago.
An undercover Sunday World team watched as the little thug busied himself cutting back overgrowth around the grounds of the eight-bed bungalow, where his wife Geraldine said she was surviving on €188 a week in State handouts.
The grounds of the property and its long, tree-lined driveway had always been maintained by gardeners – but in recent times the Gilligans have had to do the work themselves in order to save face in the neighbourhood.
Along with his son Darren, Gilligan tore down trees and shrubbery and took a chainsaw to branches covering the view over the rolling fields from the back of his family home.
Wearing an old tracksuit and a tattered brown leather jacket, Gilligan took time to hug his son, who has never been considered a major criminal figure, but who is well known to Gardaí for minor drug offences.
A court once heard that Darren had developed a drug problem while he was in his teens and had relapsed a number of times.
When his father was released from Portlaoise Prison he spent a lot of time with Darren and was drinking with him at the Hole in the Wall pub during the first failed attempt on his life.
On that occasion, an armed hitman ran into the wrong pub before fleeing, but months later Gilligan was lucky to survive when he was shot in his brother Thomas’s home in March 2014 and rushed to hospital.
He suffered a broken pelvis and damage to his bowel in the attack and was recuperating from his injuries in hospital when his bodyguard Stephen ‘Dougie’ Moran was shot dead outside his Lucan home.
Moran, a former Continuity IRA commander from Limerick, was closely aligned to the Dundon crime gang.
Gilligan later checked himself out of hospital and took a ferry to the U.K., where the Sunday World can reveal that members of the Dundon crime gang took him to a halting site where he paid for protection.
For two years the Dundons moved him around halting sites in England until he was granted safe passage back to Ireland.
He was first spotted back in Dublin in the days after the murder of his old foe Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan, who was shot dead outside his home in Ratoath, Co. Meath, at the height of the Kinahan-Hutch feud.
Over the past few months Gilligan has rarely been seen out in public, but the Sunday World understands that he has been living back at Jessbrook with his estranged wife Geraldine, their daughter Treacy and the extended family.
The Supreme Court decision on the last of Gilligan’s assets could see the family booted out of Jessbrook within weeks.
CAB officers remain confident that the court, the last place the Gilligan’s can challenge the Bureau, will rule in their favour.
If so the court will remove the final obstacle to selling the mobster’s three remaining properties – the bungalow at Jessbrook, the Gilligans former home at Corduff Avenue in Blanchardstown and a house at Willsbrook View in Lucan – leaving them homeless in Ireland.
Gilligan has claimed before the court that he did not receive a proper trial when his assets were frozen by the state in 1996.
As a result, his lawyers claim, subsequent court rulings are flawed or invalid.
The Gilligans have spent 20 years challenging the sale of their properties, which CAB say they bought with the proceeds of crime.
Arguments an estimated €20 million in taxpayers’ money has been used to fight the first family of crime, who were granted free legal aid to fund their challenges.
Among their other arguments are claims that their rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights have been breached.
They argue that the equestrian centre at Jessbrook still belongs to them and should never have been sold.
During one High Court hearing, Gilligan claimed that his wealth was as a result of the luck he had as a professional gambler and doing odd jobs.
Last year the Sunday World carried out an elaborate sting on the Gilligan family in Spain, where Treacy Gilligan tried to sell our undercover team a pub in Alicante.
She told our men, posing as dodgy Russian gangsters, that she wanted €450,000 for the Judges Chambers, but was happy to take “black money” under the counter to get her hands on cash.
She went on to tell us that she owned two villas in Spain – one of which she also tried to sell.