Double killer Gallagher released


Double killer John Gallagher was released from the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin today according to members of his estranged family who were contacted prior to his release.

Gallagher, who killed mother and daughter Annie and Anne Gillespie in the grounds of Sligo Hospital in 1988, was released from the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum just after 4pm today following a review by the Mental Health Review Board.

Relatives of Gallagher were told of his pending release when they were contacted by Gardai at 3pm. They were told Gallagher was to be released at 5pm but he was released at 4.05pm

A number of conditions have been imposed on Gallagher in connection with his release. He is allowed to visit his mother in Lifford and his father's grave but has been banned from having any contact with members of the Gillespie family of members of his own estranged family.

A spokesman for the Gallagher family said they were distraught at his release.

“This is an utter disgrace. We were given two hours notice and then this was cut down to an hour.

“We have had no say or we have not been able to put our case forward. We are living in complete fear of him and now he will be allowed to walk among us again.

“We do not think the authorities thought this through properly and we have never been consulted on the matter. If anything else happens then the authorities will have blood on their hands,” the spokesman said.

Gallagher absconded from the Central Mental Hospital in 2000 having been found guilty but insane of the murder of the two women at his trial, held in 1989.

The Donegal native first fled to England but subsequently moved to Strabane in 2003, just across the border from his homeplace in Lifford. Because he had not committed a crime in Northern Ireland he could not be arrested within the UK.

He signed himself back into the Central Mental Hospital last month, where his case was reviewed as per the provisions of legislation introduced in 2006.

Up until that time a person found “guilty but insane” of a crime could be detained indefinitely. However, under the provisions of a 2006 Act, all patients have an automatic right to a review every six months.

The board reviews all cases where people of those who are found not guilty by reason of a mental illness with regard to the safety and welfare of the person whose detention it is reviewing as well as the public interest.

Once a patient is discharged, the board can impose further conditions at any time. A person on conditional discharge may also apply for unconditional discharge after 12 months.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said that the minister Alan Shatter understood that Gallagher had been granted conditional discharge but added that, because the board was independent of the Minister, Mr Shatter “has no role” in decisions made by it. “As such, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” she added.