Gangster believed to have ordered hit on Veronica Guerin set for release on Tuesday

A crime boss who is widely believed to have ordered the murder of Irish crime reporter Veronica Guerin is being released from prison on Tuesday.

John Gilligan denies involvement in the murder. But members of his criminal gang are believed to have shot dead the campaigning reporter after her stories angered the crime lord.

The Sunday Independent journalist was gunned down on a busy dual carriageway outside Dublin in June 1996.

Weeks previously she had doorstepped the criminal who had threatened her several times.

Gilligan is completing a 20-year jail term for importing cannabis and will be released from Portlaoise Prison in the Irish midlands on Tuesday morning.

The murder of Guerin prompted a massive overhaul of the Irish justice system including the creation of the Criminal Assets Bureau, which targets the ill-gotten gains of crime lords.

Gilligan has lost his property portfolio, worth more than £5 million at the height of Ireland’s economic boom, to the Irish state – including an equestrian centre called Jessbrook.

However, even though it has been seized by the state following a 12-year legal battle, Gilligan’s wife Geraldine has refused to move out.

Gilligan’s former associate Patrick ‘Dutchy’ Holland died in Parkhurst Prison in June 2009 where he was serving an eight-year sentence for a £10 million kidnap plot. Irish police believe that Holland was the man who pulled the trigger although he denied the claims.

In August, 2009, Paul “Hippo” Ward who was convicted in connection with the crime reporter’s murder held a lavish wedding celebration only yards from the scene of the crime. However his conviction was overturned on appeal in 2002.

Brian “The Tosser” Meehan is the only member of Giligan’s gang to be still in jail in connection with Guerin’s murder.

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