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Killer Gallagher walks free from mental hospital

Double killer John Gallagher has been released from the Central Mental Hospital after handing himself in last month.

Twelve years after he fled the institution in Dundrum, the man who blasted his former girlfriend and her mother to death with his father's shotgun was released into society at 5pm last night.

The Mental Health Review Board had been assessing his case since Gallagher handed himself in to the hospital in May.

Gallagher, from Lifford in Co Donegal, shot dead his former girlfriend Anne Gillespie (18) and her mother Annie (52) in the grounds of Sligo Hospital in 1988 when they were visiting a relative.

John Gallagher, who was 22 at the time, flew into a rage after Anne broke off their relationship.

After shooting the mother and daughter, he then turned the gun on businessman Patrick Maguire who witnessed the killings.

But the gun jammed, saving Mr Maguire's life.

At his trial in 1989, Gallagher was found guilty but insane.

He was sent to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin, but in 2000 he was on an outing from the hospital when he fled to England. He was located in Oxford but could not be extradited. He then moved to Strabane in 2004, just miles away from where his victims lived in the twin towns of Ballybofey and Stranorlar in Co Donegal, and where local residents still live in fear of his return.


Gallagher is believed to have applied to the Criminal Law Mental Health Review Board which could declare him sane and order his release after he handed himself in to the hospital.

The Gillespie family have been made aware of his release.

After Gallagher handed himself in to Dundrum last month, his own brother Donal said he was a menace to society and beyond redemption, adding that he was "mad and bad" and would never change.

"John wants to be free," he said. "John wants out. John never showed remorse. You can't change the spots on a leopard. John was mad. John was bad. John has blanked it out. He hasn't had to live with it."