John Gilligan denies link to Veronica Guerin murder after release from prison

Wednesday 16 October 2013 10.45
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John Gilligan was released from prison this morning
John Gilligan was released from prison this morning
The 61-year-old was entitled to remission
The 61-year-old was entitled to remission
He was driven away in a grey Ford Mondeo
He was driven away in a grey Ford Mondeo
Journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered in 1996
Journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered in 1996

The family of the late Veronica Guerin have described comments made by John Gilligan today as an insult to the memory of the murdered journalist.

The convicted drug dealer, who was released from prison this morning after serving 17 years, again denied being involved in her murder.

Gilligan was met at Portlaoise Prison this morning by his brother, Thomas, who brought him to his house in Clondalkin, Dublin.

There, Gilligan said he had nothing to do with Ms Guerin's killing in 1996 and added that he never assaulted her or threatened to harm her young son.

In 2001, he was cleared of her murder. Brian Meehan, a member of Gilligan’s gang, was sentenced to life in prison in July 1999 for Ms Guerin's murder.

Veronica’s brother Jimmy Guerin said today that Gilligan's denials were disrespectful to Veronica's memory because it suggested she was lying.

Mr Guerin said he hoped the media would not give Gilligan the exposure he was clearly craving.

Gilligan was originally given a 28-year sentence in March 2001, which was reduced by eight years on appeal in 2003.

He was released as he was entitled to remission.

Garda Commissioner reassures public on crime

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said he wants to reassure the public that gardaí are fully committed to dealing with organised crime in all its facets.

Asked about Gilligan's release, Mr Callinan said he would not comment on an individual.

Asked if gardaí would be monitoring Gilligan, Mr Callinan said that would be an operational matter.

Responding to questions on the legal challenge being reportedly taken by Gilligan to prevent the sale of the Jessbrook estate, Mr Callinan said the Criminal Assets Bureau would continue to pursue its statutory remit.

Jessbrook equestrian centre was developed by Gilligan in the 1990s and first seized by the courts more than 15 years ago.

It has been at the centre of a long-running legal battle between the Gilligan family and gardaí.

"Rather than getting involved in personalities and individuals, which is something we don't normally do, I just want to reassure the public that An Garda Síochána is fully committed to dealing with organised crime in all facets," Mr Callinan said. 

"Our job is to prevent crimes and where crimes occur to investigate, arrest and prosecute offenders and that is what we're committed to doing."

Meanwhile, a former head of the Criminal Assets Bureau, retired garda detective chief superintendent Felix McKenna, said organised criminals would be reluctant to associate with Gilligan given his high profile.

Mr McKenna said that Gilligan's term in prison was a sign that the criminal justice system can be effective in bringing down major organised criminals, although he said this was always challenging given the intimidation of witnesses by some criminals.