Court says it can decide

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, May 9, 2001.

  1. The Special Criminal Court has ruled that it has the right to determine whether convicted drugs dealer John Gilligan benefited from his drugs-trafficking and to confiscate his assets.

    The State is seeking to confiscate £14.2 million which it alleges were Gilligan's profits from importing 20,000 kg of cannabis resin over two years. It wants the High Court to appoint a receiver to realise Gilligan's assets which allegedly include an equestrian centre at Jessbrook, two houses in Lucan, a house at Blanchardstown, six vehicles, 16 bank accounts and more than £5 million staked in bets.

    Following the court's ruling yesterday, Mr Michael O'Higgins SC, for Gilligan, said he was considering a constitutional challenge to the Criminal Justice Act 1994, under which the State is seeking to seize Gilligan's assets.

    "This Act is very radical and goes further than any other piece of legislation," he said. He might seek an order in the High Court to prevent the Special Criminal Court hearing the State's application until the constitutional issue is decided.

    Gilligan (49), with addresses at Corduff Avenue, Blanchards town, Dublin, and Jessbrook Equestrian Centre, Mucklon, Enfield, Co Kildare, was sentenced by the Special Criminal Court in March to 28 years after he was convicted of 11 offences of unlawfully importing cannabis resin between July 1st, 1994 and October 6th, 1996, that he unlawfully possessed cannabis resin for sale or supply on the same dates and that in October 1996 at Greenmount Industrial Estate, Harold's Cross, Dublin, he had cannabis resin for sale or supply.

    Mr O'Higgins had challenged the court's right to embark on an inquiry into whether Gilligan had benefited from drug-traffic king. He had submitted that the court had no jurisdiction to conduct such an inquiry and that it would be " a waste of resources" because there were already proceedings in the High Court involving Gilligan's assets.

    Mr Justice O'Donovan said the court accepted that the Special Criminal Court was " a creature of statute" and that its jurisdiction was conferred by Section 43 of the Offences Against the State Act.

    "However, in the view of the court, the provisions of section 43 of the 1939 Act do not purport to be and could not be construed as being the last word with regard to the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court.

    "It is always open to the legislature to amend the provisions of section 43 of the 1939 Act and thereby enlarge or restrict the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court to whatever extent is deemed to be necessary or appropriate."

    He said section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 had the effect of enlarging the jurisdiction of the court. The court rejected the suggestion it did not have jurisdiction to make a determination under that section. Nor was it satisfied that it would be wasteful of resources if it were to make the determination sought.

    After the ruling, Mr O'Higgins said an accountant was examining documentation supplied by the State and his report should be ready in two weeks.

    Mr Peter Charleton SC, for the State, said he would be leading evidence that Gilligan made £14.2 million profit.

    "If the defence wish to say that the profit was less, then let them say that."

    The application will be mentioned again on June 13th.

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