Tuesday 20 February 2018

Gallagher handed himself in to get inheritance, claim relatives

Gallagher seen driving in Strabane, Co Tyrone
John Gallagher with then girlfriend Anne Gillespie, whom he shot dead along with her mother Annie Gillespie in 1988
Anne Gillespie with her mother Annie

Greg Harkin

DOUBLE killer John Gallagher handed himself in to the authorities in an attempt to secure a significant inheritance, family members believe.

As much as "€400,000" has been left to him by his late father, Josie, the Irish Independent has learned.

Gallagher (46) returned to the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum this week, 12 years after absconding.

He was found guilty but insane in 1989 of killing girlfriend Anne Gillespie and her mother Annie in the grounds of Sligo General Hospital a year earlier.

Josie Gallagher left a substantial inheritance to John and his brother Christopher.

Builder Josie Gallagher died three years ago and the two sons -- Christopher still lives at the family home in Lifford, Co Donegal -- will inherit the house, land and money on the death of their mother, Margaret.

None of the other family members, estranged since the death of Josie Gallagher, were included in the will, they have confirmed.

However, John faced legal problems staking his claim to a fortune which is estimated to be "at least three or four hundred thousand euro."

While he remains officially insane, he would be made a ward of court and the Health Service Executive would be responsible for administering his estate.

And if he remained on the run in Strabane in Tyrone, legal sources said he could not take possession of any property in the Republic.

Family members say they believe Gallagher's decision to hand himself into the Central Mental Hospital after 12 years on the run is "totally linked" to the inheritance.

"This is what he is up to now. He kills two people and he ends up with half of the family fortune," said one family member.

"Josie Gallagher was a very wealthy man and worked in the building supplies business and did very well at it.

"Right up until his death he believed John was insane when he killed the Gillespies and he looked after him financially after he absconded.

The shambolic way that news of Gallagher's return to Dundrum was given to the Gillespie family has caused widespread anger among gardai in Co Donegal, who only learned of it from the media.

Gardai immediately made contact with members of the Gillespie family, prompting an apology from Justice Minister Alan Shatter yesterday.

"I regret they weren't informed earlier," said Mr Shatter, "they were informed by the gardai on Tuesday evening. We are doing what we can to ensure that they have available to them the maximum information possible."

Gallagher, he said, is likely to apply to the Mental Health Review Board for release within days and could be free again "within a few weeks or months."

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News