Convicted drug dealer and former Kildare resident John Gilligan in custody

Arrested at Belfast Airport on suspicion of alleged money laundering

Conor McHugh


Conor McHugh


Convicted drug dealer and former Kildare resident John Gilligan in custody

Jessbrook Equestrian Centre, in the townland of Mucklon

John Gilligan, who lived in Kildare for many years before he was sentenced to 17 years in prison for drug dealing, is in custody this afternoon after he was arrested in Northern Ireland yesterday and charged with alleged money laundering offences.

Mr Gilligan was arrested while attempting to board a flight to Spain at Belfast International Airport.

Northern Ireland’s National Crime Agency alleged that Mr Gilligan, 66, had 23,000 in cash when he arrested. He appeared earlier today at Coleraine Magistrates Court.

The case was remanded in custody until next Tuesday week, September 4, when he will appear before Antrim Magistrates Court.

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Mr Gilligan built and owned Jessbrook Equestrian Centre in north west Kildare in the 1990’s. It was in the townland of Mucklon, between Johnstownbridge and Timahoe and was considered to be one of the biggest in the country at the time. 

The Criminal Assets Bureau initiated legal action to remove the equestion centre from his ownership and also, eventually, the house. His wife resided in the house while he served his prison time and he lived there for some time after his prison sentence but left the area in 2014.

Mr Gilligan was arrested at Belfast International Airport on Thursday

Although he fought the CAB’s application in the courts, in 2014 the Supreme Court finally ruled against him.  Also in 2014, he was the subject of a failed assination attempt.

After Jessbrook Equestrian centre was sold it was renamed Emerald International Equestrian Centre. 

In March of 2017, Mr Gilligan and his family lost a Supreme Court appeal against the CAB's application, and was given three months to leave the property.

Read more: Gilligan has three months to leave Kildare home

Read more: CAB welcomes Supreme Court decision on control of John Gilligan's Kildare house