High Court orders CAB to seize five Gilligan properties

THE High Court yesterday gave the go-ahead to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to take over the management and maintenance of five properties owned by convicted drug dealer John Gilligan and his family.

Mr Justice Kevin Feeney appointed a receiver to the properties, but he also ordered that Gilligan’s ex-wife Geraldine and their son Darren could continue to live on in two of them, without charge and as caretakers, pending the final outcome of further court proceedings dealing with ownership.

The judgment came following a five-day hearing into an application by the CAB to have its legal officer appointed as receiver to Jessbrook Equestrian Centre in Enfield, Co Meath, a house attached to the centre, two houses in Lucan and the original Gilligan family home in Corduff Avenue, Blanchardstown.

The CAB argued the properties were at risk because they were uninsured, while Jessbrook appeared to be abandoned and was in a state of dilapidation. The CAB was not seeking to sell them, but wanted to take over the running and maintenance to ensure they did not lose value until separate court proceedings on ownership have been heard.

The Gilligans argued the receivership application should not be heard because of a pending Supreme Court appeal arising out of another court decision that found the properties had been acquired with the proceeds of crime. They also denied Jessbrook had been abandoned and claimed the State had trespassed on it to take photos for the purpose of the application to appoint a receiver.

Jessbrook is owned by Ms Gilligan who, the court accepted, used it as her main residence although she did spend a lot of time with her daughter Tracey in Alicante, Spain.

A house at Willsbrook Avenue, Lucan, is jointly owned by Tracey and her father, but is being “house sat” by a taxi driver and is occasionally used by Tracey when she comes back to Ireland.

A house at Weston Green, Lucan, owned by Darren and his father, is being rented for €1,300 per month, which Darren says, is his only source of income. The former family home in Blanchardstown is Darren’s residence.

Mr Justice Feeney rejected Gilligan’s claim that the receivership application could not be heard because of a separate Supreme Court order in relation to varying the previous High Court decision that the properties were bought with the proceeds of crime. The judge said he was satisfied that those proceedings did not relate to the application to appoint a receiver.

He ordered that while all properties should be put into receivership, Ms Gilligan could continue to live on at the house in Jessbrook and Darren could continue to live at Corduff Green.

The judge rejected a claim by the Gilligans that a CAB officer who had inspected and taken photographs of Jessbrook in July and December last year had done so in order to prepare this receivership application. The officer had gone to the premises in order to “clarify the occupancy and use” of the property following reports of horses on the land and cars coming and going.

The judge rejected the Gilligan claim that the officer had trespassed on Jessbrook and said the inspection had been done in good faith and was not a deliberate trespass.

The condition of Jessbrook during the officer’s first visit in July showed there had been little or no use of the equestrian centre or of the driveway up to the house, although the situation had improved somewhat by the time of the second visit in December.

The absence of insurance on any of the properties was a significant issue and the court was satisfied that the most likely way of ensuring that they would be insured would be by the appointment of a receiver. It would also ensure that any future use of the properties could be dealt with in an ordered and precise manner which would be to the benefit of the parties who will ultimately be entitled to them (when all court proceedings have ended), he said.

Mr Justice Feeney rejected the Gilligan argument that the CAB legal officer Frank Cassidy would not be the appropriate person to appoint as receiver. The receiver’s obligations were to the court and any contentious matters in the receivership could be dealt with by applying to the court for directions, he said.

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