Double killer walks free

John Gallagher pictured at his home in Strabane several years ago.
John Gallagher pictured at his home in Strabane several years ago.

A close relative of John Gallagher says his family are “in complete fear of him” following the double killer’s release from the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

Relatives of Gallagher were told of his impending release when they were contacted by Gardai on Friday at 3pm - less than two hours before he walked free.

A member of his family said the authorities would have “blood on their hands” if anything else happens:

“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.”

Gallagher killed mother and daughter Annie and Anne Gillespie in the grounds of Sligo Hospital in 1988.

A month ago he walked back into the Central Mental Hospital having absconded years earlier and as had been predicted at that time he has been released from the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum.

Gallagher walked free just after 4pm on Friday following a review by the Mental Health Review Board.

As part of his conditional release he is allowed to visit his mother’s home at Post Office Lane in Lifford and also his late father’s grave.

Gallagher absconded from the Central Mental Hospital in 2000 – and handed himself back in on the 14th of May – after 12 years on the run. The Donegal native first fled to England but subsequently moved to Strabane in 2003, just across the border from his homeplace in Lifford. Gallagher then applied to the mental health review board to be released – the final decision was made by psychiatrists.

Gallagher may visit Lifford, but certain restrictions will apply. He is allowed to visit his mother in Lifford and his father’s grave, but can’t have any contact with members of the Gillespie family or estranged members of his own family. Security sources suggested yesterday that Gallagher would stay away from Strabane where he had been living and Lifford until “the dust settles”.