CAB agrees sale of Jessbrook Equestrian Centre

Friday 20 December 2013 21.43
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Mr Justice George Birmingham said the Gilligans had not entitlement to a 'lis pendens' over sale of Jessbrook (Pic: Photocall/Eamonn Farrell)
Mr Justice George Birmingham said the Gilligans had not entitlement to a 'lis pendens' over sale of Jessbrook (Pic: Photocall/Eamonn Farrell)
CAB seized the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre 17 years ago
CAB seized the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre 17 years ago

The Criminal Assets Bureau has won a High Court order striking out a potential legal impediment to the sale of property seized by CAB from criminal John Gilligan and his family.

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the Gilligans had no entitlement to a legal notice called a "lis pendens" (suit pending).

The notice would have warned prospective purchasers of Jessbrook Equestrian centre in Meath, and of three houses in Dublin, that the properties are subject to legal dispute.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the matters before the court had been litigated and re-litigated on a number of occasions and there had to be a limit to the number of times this can be done.

"There is a limit to how often a drum can be banged and that limit has been reached", the judge said when he declared the Gilligan case an abuse of process.

The "lis pendens" move, taken by John Gilligan, his wife Geraldine, and children Darren and Treacy, may have deterred some buyers who do not want to become embroiled in a possible court battle.

Mr Justice Birmingham said there was no doubt it, and further Constitutional proceedings brought against the Proceeds of Crime Act, under which the property was seized, was designed to frustrate CAB's attempts to sell it.

The judge refused an application by a lawyer for the Gilligans to put a stay on his decision pending appeal.

He also refused an application for legal aid for this case.

John Gilligan, recently freed from prison after serving 17 years for drug dealing, was present for today's judgment.

CAB sources confirmed the Jessbrook purchaser is going ahead with the deal.

CAB had 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 argued 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 £4m loan to John Gilligan 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.