Sunday 15 December 2019

Killer John Gallagher surrenders: He knows he will walk free, says victim’s family

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
Gallagher seen driving in Strabane, Co Tyrone

Sarah Stack

DOUBLE -killer John Gallagher would not have handed himself in unless he knew he would walk free, his victim's family has said.

Gallagher handed himself in to the Central Mental Hospital earlier this month, some 12 years after he absconded.

He killed his girlfriend Anne Gillespie, 22, and her mother Annie, 51, in the grounds of Sligo hospital in 1988.

Anne Lafferty, Annie's sister-in-law, said the family were told only last night that Gallagher was back in detention.

"It was a shock," she said from their home in Ballybofey, Co Donegal.

"It's very, very hard for all the family now.

"We feel that he wouldn't have went in if he didn't think he was going to walk free."

Gallagher, from Lifford in Co Donegal, killed the women when he learnt Anne planned to break off their relationship.

The then 22-year-old was tried for the murder, but was found to be insane and committed to the Central Mental Hospital.

Gallagher absconded in 2000 while on day release and fled to England.

He returned to Ireland three years later and set up home in Strabane in Co Tyrone in 2003 - just across the border in Northern Ireland, where he could not be arrested by gardai.

His extradition to the Republic was never sought because, under the law, he was never convicted of a crime.

It is claimed that he is planning to take a legal case to be declared sane again so that he can be released.

Under the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006, his continued detention as a patient is determined by the Mental Health Review Board.

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