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Pictures: John Gilligan walks free from Portlaoise Prison

The veteran criminal, who led the gang that murdered Veronica Guerin, made a phone call as he was driven from the facility in a waiting car.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated: 10.50am

CRIME BOSS JOHN Gilligan has been freed from prison in Portlaoise.

The gangland criminal was released at around 9.30am this morning, as he concluded his sentence for drug trafficking offences.

Gilligan was originally given a 28 year sentence in 2001. This was reduced to 20 years on appeal, and he is allowed further time off as a result of remission.

While behind bars, he was also found on two separate occasions to be in possession of a mobile phone, and received extra six- and eight- month sentences for those offences. He has also served extra time in prison for assaulting a prison officer.

The criminal, originally from Ballyfermot, led the gang responsible for killing journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996. He was later acquitted of the murder.

The reporter’s brother Jimmy Guerin has said he’s “saddened” at the release, and that he’s worried Gilligan will try to re-involve himself with criminal activity.

“This is probably Ireland’s most notorious criminal and we are opening the gates of our prison today and letting him back into society and I think that’s wrong,” Guerin said.

A large crowd of journalists and photographers gathered this morning ahead of the planned release. Gilligan was driven from the high security facility by a waiting car, and made a phone call as the vehicle sped away.

Pictures: John Gilligan walks free from Portlaoise Prison
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  • John Gilligan freed

    Source: Niall Carson
  • John Gilligan freed

    Source: Niall Carson
  • John Gilligan freed

    Source: Niall Carson
  • John Gilligan freed

    Source: Niall Carson
  • John Gilligan freed

    Source: Niall Carson

(All pictures: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

This article was originally posted at 10.10am

Read: Gilligan loses appeal against constitutionality of sentences >

Jimmy Guerin: I think there are a number of new John Gilligans>

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