Northern Ireland

John Gilligan was 'leaving country due to threat', court hears

John Gilligan
Image caption John Gilligan's defence barrister said his client had survived a previous assassination attempt

A Dublin man arrested at a Belfast airport with a suitcase containing almost 23,000 euros (£20,000) was leaving the country because of a threat, a court has heard.

John Gilligan, of Greenforth Crescent but with a bail address at Springhill Close in Belfast, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

He is accused of trying to remove criminal property.

He also accused of possessing criminal property.

The 67-year-old was arrested by Border Force officers while attempting to board a flight to Spain at Belfast International Airport on 23 August, 2018.

Gilligan's defence barrister said one issue in the case was whether the money was criminal property.

District Judge Peter King said it was up to the prosecution to prove this was the case.

The defence barrister said the authorities believed his client was "involved in drug related activity in the mid 1990s and therefore this money must be related to that".

'Chaotic lifestyle'

"That seems to be their case," he added.

Regarding the money his client had in the airport, the barrister said there was "no doubt he had it and that he was travelling with it".

But he added his client was travelling because of a threat issued against him.

He said Gilligan had been living a "chaotic lifestyle" and had survived a previous assassination attempt.

The prosecution and defence lawyers said they were making progress in agreeing witnesses and facts in the case.

The case will be heard again later this year.