The Criminal Assets Bureau wants the High Court to strike out a potential legal impediment to the sale of property seized by CAB from criminal John Gilligan and his family.
The Gilligans have filed a legal notice called a “lis pendens” or suit pending, warning prospective purchasers of Jessbrook equestrian centre in Meath, and of three houses in Dublin, that the properties are subject to legal dispute.
The move, taken by John, his wife Geraldine, and children Darren and Treacy, may deter some buyers who do not want to become embroiled in a possible court battle.
Mr Justice George Birmingham said he hoped to give his decision on the CAB application in two weeks. John Gilligan, recently freed from prison after serving 17 years for drug dealing, attended yesterday’s hearing.
CAB argued the High Court should strike out the lis pendens notice because it was an abuse of process in an attempt to thwart the sale.
It had also been done some 16 years since a court first declared the properties were the proceeds of crime, CAB said.
The Gilligans argue their rights were breached because they have never had an oral hearing over whether the properties came from crime.
They claimed previously they were bought from legitimate earnings including from a stg£4m loan to John to renovate his properties, as well as from his gambling activities.
Nearly three years ago, the late Mr Justice Kevin Feeney, in finding the assets had come from crime, said he found Gilligan’s explanations incredible and improbable. That case is still on appeal to the Supreme Court.
However, CAB is still entitled to sell the properties, including nearly 50 acres and the 3,500-seater Jessbrook showjumping arena which has gone on the open market for an estimated €500,000.
Ben O’Floinn BL, for CAB, said even if there had not been multiple cases over 16 years about these properties, it would still be an abuse of process to try to stop a sale on such a “slender and diffuse” basis.
Michael Bromley-Martin, on behalf of the Gilligans, said there may have been an error as to the precise requirements of the Proceeds of Crime Act which was that oral evidence should have been heard.
The crux of this case was whether or not the Gilligans’ property, constitut-ional and human rights had been vindicated, he said.
To say that this entire matter had been ventilated in non-oral hearings, was simply irrelevant because the deprivation of a right “was just that, no matter when it has been litigated”, Mr Bromley-Martin said.