The Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin adjourned an application by convicted drug dealer John Gilligan. Three years ago the Special Criminal Court acquitted Gilligan of the charge of murdering journalist Veronica Guerin but sentenced him to 28 years imprisonment for drug dealing. It is the longest sentence ever handed down by an Irish court for a drug-related offense.
Counsel for the 52-year-old Dubliner unsuccessfully appealed the severity of his sentence. On this occasion, Gilligan is appealing on the grounds that points of law of exceptional public importance are at issue. The case was due to be heard at the beginning of December, but at the request of Gilligan’s lawyer, Clan Ferriter, the three-judge Court of Criminal Appeal adjourned the matter to January 27.
Elsewhere, a crime gang with links to the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) is suspected of intimidating another crime reporter. A suspicious device was attached to the car belonging to Paul Williams, crime editor for the Sunday Worm newspaper. Gardai (Irish police) and army bomb disposal experts were called in. Williams and his neighbors in the Dublin suburb of Walkinstown were evacuated, but the device was found to be an elaborate hoax.
The journalist and his family were placed under 24-hour garda protection, but cover is expected to be temporary because of departmental cutbacks. Criminals suspected of the hoax are part of an organized gang with paramilitary connections. “They are not going to intimidate or threaten me,” vowed the reporter. “They have killed two of my colleagues, and it is not going to happen any more,” he added, in reference to the murder of Veronica Guerin in 1996 and the loyalist murder of Sunday World reporter Martin O’Hagan in Lurgan, County Armagh, two years ago. ♦