Belfast Telegraph

Notorious double-killer is jailed for harassment after making gun gesture at his sister

A double-killer who escaped to Strabane from a mental hospital has been jailed after harassing his sister by making a gun gesture.

John Gallagher (47) – who shot dead his ex-girlfriend and her mother in Sligo in 1988 – said he has lived every day of the last 25 years in the shadow of his actions as he recently gave evidence.

The Donegal man killed 51-year-old Annie Gillespie and her 18-year-old daughter Ann at Sligo General Hospital in 1988.

They had been visiting a relative who was a patient there.

Gallagher was found guilty but insane at his trial the following year, but absconded and set up home later in Strabane, close to his native Lifford in Donegal.

The killer was back in court recently to face charges of harassing his sister, Helena Miller.

During a dramatic contest at Strabane Magistrates Court, the Lifford man said he had "apologised deeply" for shooting his victims dead.

Gallagher faced a charge of harassing Mrs Miller.

The charge related to an incident outside Strabane's SuperValu store on March 25 when Gallagher pulled up alongside his sister's car and made a gun gesture with his hand.

After hearing from both parties, District Judge Nigel Broderick found Gallagher guilty and sentenced him to three months in prison.

In her evidence, Mrs Miller recalled how, on March 25, she had been sitting in her car on Strabane's Main Street when her brother pulled up.

"I glanced over and he was roaring and shouting," Mrs Miller told the court. "He made the shape of a gun at me and I turned my head away because I was about to cry and I didn't want him to see me cry."

Mrs Miller pulled from her bag a photo of Gallagher's two victims and pressed it against the window of her car.

She said she carried the photo because the Gillespies had been friends of hers and that by showing it to her brother, she hoped to "shame" him into leaving her alone. Mrs Miller said she had been living in fear of her brother since a family fall-out in 2008.

Asked why she feared him, Mrs Miller said it was because of his past. "He will kill me and I am fearful," she said. "I am afraid of him. I did nothing to him and I want to be left alone.

"He killed before, and seeing him after he killed those two women, there was no remorse. He took them lives and it didn't bother him," said Mrs Miller. Strabane court was played a video filmed from inside Gallagher's car on the day in question.

It showed him leave Strabane's Main Street before returning moments later and pulling up close to his sister's car. Approximately 20 seconds of the footage showed the photographs being pressed against the car window before Gallagher drove off.

The court heard in detail how the Gallagher family had split following the death of their father five years ago.

He said he had recorded the video and taken a picture on his phone because "no one believed him" when he told them his sister still carried a photo of the two deceased women.

Gallagher said he "resented" his sister coming to court to say he had never shown remorse for what he had done. His voice cracked as he described the events of September 18, 1988 when he blasted Ann Gillespie and her mother Annie to death.

"I have repeatedly said I was morally responsible for what happened," he said.

Quizzed on why he had CCTV installed on the inside of his vehicle, the 47-year-old said it was because of the "numerous allegations" made against him by his family. He accused his brothers and sisters of showing "open hostility" against him.

He said he was "deeply apologetic" for the deaths of the two women.


John Gallagher (47) shot his ex-girlfriend Ann Gillespie (18) and her mother Annie (51) dead in 1988.

He was found guilty but insane of the double-killing and sent to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

After 12 years there Gallagher absconded and went to England.

He has lived in Strabane for the past decade.

Belfast Telegraph


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