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police probe Thug John Gilligan and son Darren arrested in Spain

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John Gilligan

John Gilligan

PA

John Gilligan

GANG figure John Gilligan and his son Darren have been arrested in Spain along with a third man.

The 68-year-old convicted drug dealer was lifted in Alicante as part of an investigation by police who have yet to inform gardai of the details of the arrest.

Gilligan has long enjoyed ties to Alicante. The family once ran pub The Judges Chambers there but sold it before he was released from prison.

During a sting operation conducted by the Sunday World in 2015, daughter Treacy Gilligan attempted to sell the pub to our undercover team for ‘the black money’ while also offering us to view a €300k property she said she had for sale in Orihuela Costa.

Gilligan was detained in Alicante along with the two others, one understood to be son Darren, who had been constantly at his father’s side since he was released from prison in 2013.

Darren is known to gardai but has never been considered a major crime figure.

Senior garda sources here have confirmed the arrests but said they are awaiting further information from Spain to see if they can be of any assistance.

Last year Gilligan put on his trademark smug grin after he pleaded not guilty to charges relating to more than €20,000 of dirty money.

He had appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court looking pale and ageing after a stint behind bars awaiting the court appearance about the offence.

He had been arrested at Belfast Intenational Airport in 2018 with the cash in his baggage ahead of a flight to Alicante. Prosecutors, at the time, said he intended to purchase a prescription drug, Zopiclone, in Spain for distribution on the Irish drug market.

Zopiclone or ‘zimos’ are sold by street dealers to addicts. Gilligan denied the claims. The case was ultimately dismissed by a judge who said suspicion was insufficient to warrant a conviction in criminal courts.

Two years ago the Sunday World reported how Gilligan had found love again and was spending his time between Spain and the south coast of England with the new woman in his life.

It is understood he met his ex-pat partner in Alicante where he had hoped to retire after serving a lengthy sentence for importing cannabis as part of the investigation into the murder of Veronica Guerin.

Prior to that Gilligan had been bedding down in a mobile home in the South East of Ireland, in a hotel in West Dublin and in homes of close associates.

He has been forced to live the life of a paranoid nomad since he survived a shooting shortly after his release from prison and had been scratching around the drugs world in a bid to get back in the game.

Gilligan has being watched closely by authorities in both Spain and the UK and it is suspected that he had squirrelled away some money which he planned to invest in the drugs business again.

Gilligan was finally evicted from Jessbrook two years ago when he was forced to hand back the keys of the bungalow where his wife Geraldine had lived for two decades after the murder of Guerin.

The one time drug lord removed fitted wardrobes, carpets and even light fittings from the house before he vacated it.

In the run up to a final bid to buy time from the CAB, the Sunday World had photographed him toiling away at the property sure he would get a stay of execution to continue living at the house.

For more than 20 years the Gilligans had used taxpayers' money to fight the CAB while enjoying the comforts of the large bungalow in the Kildare countryside.

It was in the large country pile that John and Geraldine Gilligan had hoped to become Lord and Lady Muck of Jessbrook equestrian centre next door.

They planned to host top show-jumping events but when his gang shot Veronica Guerin everything changed.

Gilligan first fled to the UK but was extradited back to Ireland where he and members of his gang faced trial for murdering the journalist. Gilligan was found not guilty of Veronica Guerin's murder.

He ended up getting a lengthy sentence for drug trafficking while Geraldine found refuge inside her country pile.

When he was released from prison he returned first to Jessbrook before leaving in fear of his life. He was shot in brother Thomas’ house before leaving Ireland and moving from halting site to halting site in the UK for years under the protection of associates of Limerick’s Dundons mob.

In late 2016 he moved back to Ireland and to Jessbrook as the CAB case came to its end.

He and wife Geraldine told the courts over the past 10 years that they were no longer a couple. Gilligan’s new girlfriend 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 summer sun.

The pair have been spending 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.

Traynor has always denied having anything to do with Veronica Guerin’s murder but cops have always believed that he was the one who tipped Gilligan of about her plans on the day of the assassination.

The coach first fled to Portugal after the assassination and later settled in Margate with his partner.

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