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Murder In An Irish Town
In September 1988, John Gallagher drove to Lifford, collected a rifle from behind the wardrobe in his father’s bedroom and headed for Sligo, where he murdered his ex-girlfriend Anne Gillespie, and her mother Annie. When the case came to court John Gallagher pleaded – and was found – guilty but insane and he was remanded to the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum. In July 2000, Gallagher successfully escaped from Dundrum and absconded to England, before returning to Northern Ireland, where he was able to live freely, because of the unique absence of an extradition treaty for people in his position. Earlier this month, in a bizarre twist, apparently in the hope of taking advantage of a bequest from his father, Gallagher turned up at the Central Mental Hospital and handed himself in. It’s open to him to apply to the Health Review Board for release on the grounds that he does not now suffer from a mental illness. The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, has already acknowledged the possibility that he might be released within a matter of weeks. But as far back as 1991, in a special investigation carried out for Hot Press, Eamonn McCann questioned the original verdict of the court – and whether Gallagher was ever ‘insane’ within the meaning intended by the act. In the light of the growing controversy about the case, we reprint here in full the extraordinary story as it was originally published in Hot Press.
Eamonn McCann, 12 Jun 2012
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