Double killer hands himself in to hospital

Double killer John Gallagher has handed himself in to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

A source at the Department of Justice has confirmed that the Donegal man is being detained.

Gallagher, who killed mother and daughter Anne and Annie Gillespie, was living in Strabane, Co Tyrone.

In 1988, when Anne and her mother were visiting a relative in Sligo General Hospital, Gallagher, who was then 22, followed them and confronted them with a gun in the car park.

He shot Anne first, then her mother. Anne’s uncle, Patrick, who was also in the car, escaped death because the gun jammed.

At his trial in 1989, he claimed he was insane and was sent to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

In 2000, he escaped from the hospital while on an outing and fled to England.

When he was located in Oxford, neither the gardaí nor the Department of Justice could seek his extradition as he had not been convicted of a crime. British police could not arrest him as he had not committed a crime in Britain.

He was assessed by a psychiatrist who declared him sane and he was allowed to walk away a free man.

However, he returned in 2003 and set up home in Strabane, just a few miles from where his victims lived in the twin towns of Ballybofey and Stranorlar.

In the intervening years, gardaí have said they could not arrest him unless he crossed into the Republic.

Gardaí in Donegal had not been made aware last night that Gallagher had handed himself in.

There is believed to be a split in the Gallagher family which meant he has not spoken to some of his family for many years.

Gallagher is on speaking terms with brother Christopher and his mother, who still live in Lifford. However, he is said to be estranged from the rest of his family.

One of those close family members, who asked not to be named, said he was “not mad but bad”.

“He knows exactly what he is doing by handing himself in. He will be trying to get out as soon as he can. He was never insane. How come all of a sudden he thinks he is well enough again and hands himself into a mental hospital.

“He has been living in Strabane for the past 10 years almost and he had plenty of time to hand himself in but chose not to. He is playing everyone for fools but people have to see through this.”


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