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drugs bust Gilligan's girlfriend nabbed by Spanish police

The pint-sized thug met his English partner in Alicante in Spain in the past five years after he was introduced to her by daughter Treacy’s ex-partner who runs a pub in Torrevieja.


John Gilligan

John Gilligan

John Gilligan face down on the floor after his arrest

John Gilligan face down on the floor after his arrest


Spanish police have confirmed  the arrest of well-known Irish criminal John Gilligan

Caption: Spanish police have confirmed the arrest of well-known Irish criminal John Gilligan



John Gilligan

JOHN Gilligan’s girlfriend was arrested alongside the notorious mobster in Spain this week, during a bust on an organised crime outfit under investigation by three different police forces.

The pint-sized thug met his English partner in Alicante in Spain in the past five years after he was introduced to her by daughter Treacy’s ex-partner who runs a pub in Torrevieja.

The black-haired granny, from the south coast of England, was among six people arrested by Spain’s National Police, who discovered sleeping pills and marijuana packed for transport and a gun at a Costa Blanca villa where Gilligan was pictured face down on a kitchen floor.

Gilligan remains in jail in Spain as the probe into his drug-dealing network continues, while gardai now hope to investigate the ownership of the villa where he was arrested.

Gilligan’s girlfriend once declared: “I love him more than life itself” – despite living a normadic existence with him in recent years.

At one point, the couple moved into a caravan on a holiday site the Irish southeast.

The English woman is in her early 60s and has a number of grandchildren in the UK.


She is known in pubs throughout Alicante, where she spends the winter months living in the Spanish sun.

The pair have also spent considerable time in an English seaside village which is just an hour’s drive from Margate, where Gilligan’s old pal John Traynor is settled.

Gardai are now liaising with their Spanish counterparts but remain very sceptical that the gun found buried in the garden of the house may be the weapon used to murder journalist Veronica Guerin.


Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin

Gardai, the UK's National Crime Agency and Spanish police have had Gilligan and his crew under investigation for months and it is understood his phones have been bugged as they attempted to dismantle his operation.

Officers have been monitoring Gilligan's movements in Ireland and waiting for a chance to pounce - but he always remained with hands-off his product.

When he was arrested last year in Northern Ireland with €20,000 hidden in his luggage, authorities were hopefule that he would land a hefty sentence. But instead, a court threw out the case after he had spent months at Maghaberry jail.

However, he had let his guard down in Spain, where he believed he was passing himself off as just another ex-pat pensioner on the Costa.

Officers there have had a pub under surveillance as well as the property where Gilligan was living.

The gun was discovered by metal detectors in follow-up searches around the villa where he was lifted.


The gun recovered by Spanish police

The gun recovered by Spanish police


The gun recovered by Spanish police

The Sunday World can reveal that Gilligan has harboured hopes to return to the very top of the drugs ladder since was released from Portlaoise Prison after a lengthy term.

But he has failed at every turn and is now facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in jail.

Gilligan had to employ dissident thug Stephen ‘Dougie’ Moran as a bodyguard following his release from jail in 2014 as a serious threat to his life emerged.

The former drugs kingpin was shot at his brother Thomas’s house, which almost killed him and he was given the last rites in hospital.

Weeks later Moran was shot dead at the gate of his Lucan home.

When Gilligan was discharged from hospital, he left Ireland in a wheelchair but was forced to dip into his savings again to pay the Dundon-McCarthy mob to protect him as he moved around halting sites in the UK.

He made an extraordinary recovery despite his injuries.

In July 2015, the Sunday World conducted a daring sting on Gilligan and his daughter Treacy when we posed as Russian gangsters interested in buying The Judges’ Chambers pub in Torrevieja, once the jewel in the Gilligan crown.

We filmed Treacy telling us she would sell the pub for ‘the black money’and revealing that she had two other properties in the area, including a villa she hoped to flog for €350,000.

Gardai are now hoping to work with their Spanish counterparts to ascertain if the villa where Gilligan was arrested may be in the ownership of any of his associates and which may have been hidden during the lengthy Criminal Assets Bureau proceedings here.

When Gilligan returned again to Ireland in 2017 in a last-ditch bid to save the family properties at Jessbrook in Kildare and in Dublin from the Bureau, he attempted to claim social welfare and apply for an old-age pension.

But he was refused after objections were made by the Bureau.

Gilligan came back on the police radar when he began to travel a lot between Ireland, England and Spain,often in the company of his girlfriend.

From his base in Spain he started building a new drug business, using the postal system to transport zimos and marijuana to Ireland and the UK.


Last year, Treacy Gilligan attended a CAB hearing to beg for 20 pc of her one-time home in Willsbrook View, claiming she had invested in it with her own money, which she was granted.

The house sale, part of the wider CAB case against Gilligan,is understood to have closed in the past week.

The Spanish bust could mark the very end of the road for Gilligan who will be facing a long stretch in jail.

At 67 years of age, he will be appealing for leniency should he face prosecution in relation to running a drugs gang, possession of narcotics for sale and supply and on the weapons charge.

While Spanish police are anxious to examine if the gun,a Colt, is the weapon that was used in the assassination of Veronica Guerin in 1996, gardai remain sceptical.

They believe it is highly unlikely Gilligan would have kept the gun for more than 24 years, unless as a sick trophy for the murder of the journalist, who was the first to expose his criminality.


Spanish police are sending the gun for ballistics tests.

A source said: “The Colt Python is not a common weapon like a Glock or a Smith & Weston or a Sig Sauer.

“It will take months for the police involved in this case to determine whether or not the weapon was used to kill the Irish journalist.”

Gardai are set to supply all reports on the Veronica Guerin autopsy to their Spanish counterparts.

Meanwhile Gilligan has been remanded in custody in Spain.

Online Editors