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jailhouse rot Crime boss John Gilligan's living nightmare in Spanish hell-hole prison


John Gilligan is being housed in the dangerous Fontcalent prison in Alicante, Spain

John Gilligan is being housed in the dangerous Fontcalent prison in Alicante, Spain

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John Gilligan is being housed in the dangerous Fontcalent prison in Alicante, Spain

John Gilligan will be at least six months behind bars in a tough Spanish jail housing killers, rapists and drug barons before he can even apply for bail as he awaits trial.

Gilligan (68) is being housed in the large Fontcalent prison in Alicante where visits have been suspended and inmates are terrified of outbreaks of Covid-19 in the cramped conditions.

Last year, a prisoner was murdered for snoring at the tough jail, where mentally-ill patients are being housed without proper access to psychiatrists.

The nightmare scenario for Gilligan may last until at least the middle of 2021, according to sources, who say he will not be able to apply for bail before then.

The Alicante prison often operates beyond capacity but holds a maximum of 1,000 inmates locked up for serious crimes. Gilligan has never spent time in prison in Spain before and a new documentary to be screened on Virgin Media tomorrow evening will detail how it is a far cry from his time in Portlaoise Prison, where he partied and enjoyed football matches with fellow lags.


Sunday World reporter Nicola Tallant challenges Gilligan outside court

Sunday World reporter Nicola Tallant challenges Gilligan outside court

Sunday World reporter Nicola Tallant challenges Gilligan outside court

The documentary Gilligan: The End of the Line details how the notorious crime boss had attempted to take a chunk of the west Dublin street drug market before he was sensationally nabbed by the Policia Nationale at a house outside Alicante last October.

His girlfriend and son Darren were also arrested during the raid on the house in

Torrevieja, where Gilligan had been staying and where officers found four kilos of cannabis and 11,000 Zimovane pills parcelled and ready to be posted to Ireland.

A follow-up search on the grounds of the house uncovered a Colt Python gun, which it was later found was not the one used to murder journalist Veronica Guerin – although it was a similar make and model.

All except Gilligan were released on bail but the pensioner was placed in custody at the notorious Fontcalent prison where he remains. An inmate died in the prison in September and members of the medical staff were infected and quarantined after an outbreak of Covid-19.

Reports from Spain have said that many prisoners are unable to leave their cells or meet with their families such are the fears over the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 46,000 lives in the country.

Fontcalent prison sits in the hills above Alicante and is the biggest jail in the region. In recent years it has come under much criticism from workers’ unions who say it is understaffed and that its psychiatric unit has just one doctor. Staff have also complained of a lack of protective equipment available to them and as a result prisoners have been restricted from visits and access to family in as much as possible, especially during the states of emergency.

Gilligan’s girlfriend is under investigation along with her in Spain for running a burgeoning drug empire which he had hoped would make him a second fortune.

The mobster fell on hard times after his release from jail in Ireland, when he was shot and was forced to seek protection from Traveller gangs in the UK as he tried to negotiate for his life with criminals in Ireland under the umbrella of the Kinahan mob.

The pint-sized thug had a long-standing problem with John Cunningham – who was once Christy Kinahan Snr’s partner in crime – after he was accused of mistreating his family while Cunningham was behind bars for the Jennifer Guinness kidnap.

It is understood Gilligan used up a lot of his savings paying off other criminals and to fund his time in hiding.


John Gilligan

John Gilligan


John Gilligan

However, it is suspected that he did manage to hang on to a number of properties, in complex ownership structures, which are now expected to come under scrutiny from Spanish authorities.

In the documentary to be aired at 9pm on Virgin Media One, Chief Superintendent Mick Gubbins of the Criminal Assets Bureau said CAB will celebrate its 25 year anniversary in 2021 while still fighting Gilligan’s appeals. “We launched our proceedings against him in 1996 and they were essentially finalised a year later, but appeals and motions on his part went on until 2017 when we disposed of the assets. He is currently taking a case against the CAB in the European Court of Human Rights about the delay in the whole process. All I can say is that we will vigorously defend that.”

And the Chief Superintendent said that, ironically, the actions of Gilligan’s organised crime gang had gifted the Irish State with the CAB which is still working on behalf of communities today. “The legacy of John Gilligan himself is that he has taken so many actions against us and motions that the constitutionality of the Proceeds of Crime legislation has been stress tested and it has stood up.”

The Chief Bureau Officer also said it would be ‘perfectly reasonable’ of Spanish authorities to go after Gilligan’s remaining wealth if any new assets were discovered in Spain. “The Spanish could launch a new probe and we would be here to help them in any way they need. The Proceeds of Crime legislation only has relevance in our own jurisdiction but we have international partnerships as crime is now a global issue.

“We share information on proceeds of crime and criminality all the time through our networks, so if the Spanish need our help we are only too willing to give it.”

Gilligan: The End of the Line will be shown on Virgin Media One tomorrow at 9pm.

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Online Editors