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we've got shoe John Gilligan smuggled drugs in flip flops and children's toys, Spanish court told

Gangster faces more than eight years in jail if convicted on drugs and gun charges

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John Gilligan could face up to eight years behind bars in a Spanish prison

John Gilligan could face up to eight years behind bars in a Spanish prison

John Gilligan could face up to eight years behind bars in a Spanish prison

Gangster John Gilligan has been warned that he faces more than eight years in a Spanish jail if convicted on drugs and gun charges

The sentence hanging over him emerged as prosecutors outlined for the first time how he allegedly hid drug deliveries in consignments of toys and flip-flops.

New details about the weapon found hidden in the garden of Gilligan's ex-pat home in the Costa Blanca resort of Torrevieja can also be revealed today.

Spanish state prosecutors are seeking a one-and-a-half year prison sentence for the 69-year-old if he is convicted of a crime of unlawful weapons possession at a trial expected to take place next year.

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Spanish police show the handgun found at John Gilligan's home

Spanish police show the handgun found at John Gilligan's home

Spanish police show the handgun found at John Gilligan's home

But instead of the rare Colt Python .357 Magnum police said they had discovered after arresting Gilligan in October last year - linked at the time to the weapon used to murder investigative journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996 - it is now being described as a Colt Defender air pistol.

A six-page indictment submitted to a judge who has ruled there is enough "prima facie" evidence to try the Dubliner and eight alleged accomplices: "The pistol, with its case and ammunition was buried in the garden and at John Gilligan's disposal. It has been catalogued as a short firearm equipped for use."

Detailing the items alleged gang leader Gilligan and his accomplices are accused of using to send cannabis and powerful sleeping pills from Spain to Ireland, the indictment says of the courier deliveries seized: "One opened on October 2020 contained seven boxes of children's toys, two flip-flops and inside a towel, two packets containing marijuana buds weighing 685g and 700g respectively."

The same combination of towels, toys and flip-flops were also used to smuggle prescription medicines, including pills used to treat insomnia like Limovane and Zoplicone, according to the prosecution document. It emerged on Thursday Gilligan had been formally charged following his arrest just over a year ago.

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Spanish police search the home of Irish gangster John Gilligan

Spanish police search the home of Irish gangster John Gilligan

Spanish police search the home of Irish gangster John Gilligan

Prosecutors confirmed they were seeking a prison sentence of eight years and four months for Gilligan, whose phones are thought to have been tapped by police in the lead-up to his arrest, on four separate charges.

They have told a judge they want him jailed for two years if convicted of smuggling cannabis into Ireland, four years for illegally exporting the sleeping pills, one-and-a-half years for the gun crime and 10 months for membership of a criminal gang.

More than 27,000 powerful prescription-only sleeping pills were seized as part of the police operation.

A small amount of cocaine was also discovered in a second round of arrests in February this year linked to the initial police detentions. Gilligan is expected to be tried next year and will remain on bail until he is summoned to court.

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John Gilligan is arrested by Spanish police

John Gilligan is arrested by Spanish police

John Gilligan is arrested by Spanish police

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He spent nearly two months on remand in prison following his arrest last year but was released for Christmas. His release conditions included a ban on leaving Spain and the obligation to sign on every fortnight at court.

His associate 'Fat' Tony Armstrong, investigated but never charged over the murders of gangsters Shane Coates and Stephen Sugg after their bodies were discovered under a Costa Blanca warehouse he rented in July 2006, was one of the four people held in February.

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