Dutchy Holland: overview of Veronica Guerin case
Veronica Guerin was murdered at Newlands Cross, outside Dublin, at around 1.00pm on 26 June 1996. Almost immediately John Gilligan was identified as the major suspect for her murder. Veronica Guerin had sought to interview Gillian at his home in Co Kildare some months previously and she claimed to have been viciously assaulted by Gilligan. The latter has always denied assaulting her but there is persuasive evidence he did so and evidence that a day later he threatened her and her son in the course of a phone conversation.
Although initially it was widely asserted that Veronica Guerin was murdered because of articles she had written in the Sunday Independent about the criminal underworld, it was subsequently stated this was not the reason for her killing. Instead it was stated she was murdered because John Gilligan wanted her out of the way before she gave evidence against him on the assault charge. (This seems to us implausible for reasons we will explain in a later issue of Village.)
There followed the most comprehensive murder investigation in the history of An Garda Siochana. Members of a gang believed to be controlled by Gilligan were rounded up. Two of them, Charles Bowden and Russell Warren, agreed to give evidence against their former gang members in return for a guarantee of immunity on a murder charge and other favours. First Patrick Holland was arrested and charged with drug offences – he was not charged with murder, although it was widely said at the time he was the person who fired the shots into the head and body of Veronica Guerin. Then two other alleged gang members, Paul Ward and Brian Meehan, were convicted of murder – Ward was later acquitted on appeal. John Gillian was also acquitted of murder, although convicted of drug offences.