Judge to consider Gallagher case for absconding
A JUDGE has deferred ruling on whether a prosecution brought against double killer John Gallagher for absconding from custody should be struck out.
Mr Gallagher (46), who killed mother and daughter Annie and Anne Gillespie in the grounds of Sligo General Hospital in 1988, was released from the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum in Dublin on June 29th last, six weeks after giving himself up.
He was found guilty but insane at his trial in 1989 and had absconded in 2000 after spending 12 years at the facility.
His release in June came with a number of conditions but he has been allowed to visit his mother at her home at Post Office Lane in Lifford, Co Donegal.
A summons for absconding from custody had been issued after he originally left the Central Mental Hospital in 2000. In July this year, the DPP authorised another one, by which time he had been released from the facility. He is now living with his wife and children in Strabane, Co Tyrone.
His prosecution for absconding from custody was before Dublin District Court yesterday. He was not in the courtroom but Judge Catherine Murphy was told that he was “close by”.
Garda Sgt Ivan Howlin told Judge Murphy that on July 7th, he and Garda Michael Lynch travelled to Lifford to serve the summons on Mr Gallagher but he was not present.
Garda Sgt Howlin said some of the Gallaghers still lived there and a business operates at Post Office Lane. He also thought Mr Gallagher still had links to the family’s transport business. He said he spoke to Christopher Gallagher, the accused’s brother, for about half an hour. He said Christopher made a phone call and assured him that he would give the summons to John Gallagher. He said the summons was in an envelope that was left with Christopher.
Christopher Gallagher told the court that he did not know what the envelope contained. He said John Gallagher regularly came over the Border to visit their mother but added that he had no connections with any Gallagher business operating out of Post Office Lane.
He also told the court that when the gardaí arrived he was shocked as it was about 10 days after his brother had been released from the hospital in Dundrum. “I thought this was over. I was amazed when these two gentlemen arrived,” he said.
“They never told me what it was. They told me it was documentation that was important that John had to get,” he said.
He said that when the gardaí arrived he phoned John Gallagher’s house in Strabane but was told by his sister-in-law that he had gone out with their children.
Defence solicitor Dara Robinson argued that the summons was not correctly served in accordance with the District Court’s rules. He said the Lifford address is no longer John Gallagher’s home or place of work and he asked the court to strike out the case. He said John Gallagher had not used that Donegal address since the 1980s. Since then he has had two addresses, the Central Mental Hospital and his current one in the North.
Judge Murphy said she would give her decision next week.