John Gallagher - Confusion over law

Confusion concerning the law frequently occurs but seldom has such bewilderment arisen as in the case of double killer John Gallagher who has handed himself in after absconding from the Central Mental Hospital and fleeing to England 12 years ago.

When tried for the murder of mother and daughter Anne and Annie Gillespie in the grounds of Sligo Hospital in 1988, he was found “guilty but insane”. Now he claims to be sane and wants to be released.

Since his return from Britain he has lived in the North where he is married with children. His extradition was never sought because under the law he was insane and never convicted of a crime here.

The question is what happens now? What seems a legal anomaly falls within the law. The provisions of the Mental Health Act 2006 will apply retrospectively to Gallagher. If the Mental Health Review Board finds him to be sane he will walk free. A unique case — and a very disturbing one for the Gillespie family.


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