Double-Killer John Gallagher Hands Himself In

Almost 12 years since absconding from Central Mental Hospital, double killer John Gallagher handed himself back in to the hospital earlier this month.

Anne Lafferty, sister-in-law of one of his victim’s, said the family were told only last night that Gallagher was back in detention.

It is believed he is planning to mount a legal challenge to have himself declared sane so that he can be released.

Gallagher killed his then girlfriend, Anne Gillespie (18), and her mother Annie (51), in the grounds of Sligo hospital in 1988.

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

While on day released in 2000 he failed to return to the hospital and fled to England.

Some days after he absconded, gardaí learned he was in the Birmingham area of the UK. He continued to reside in the UK for a number of years.

Because of the verdict of insanity he was never convicted, and under a loophole in the law could not be extradited back to the Republic.

“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.”

In 2003 Gallagher set up home in Strabane, just a few miles from where his victims lived in the twin towns of Ballybofey and Stranorlar. He is believed to have lived there with his partner and children.

Gardaí had repeatedly said that as he was not wanted in Britain, because he committed no crime there, they could not arrest Gallagher unless he crossed the border into the Republic.

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


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