Son’s attack on OAP was a ‘message from God’

Gallen has been remanded to the State Hospital at Carstairs. Picture: TSPL
Gallen has been remanded to the State Hospital at Carstairs. Picture: TSPL
Share this article
Have your say

A PENSIONER was repeatedly stabbed and suffocated by his son who said he was delivering a “message from God”.

Denis Gallen, 38, forced a pillow over his father’s face and attacked him with a knife before flashing a picture of his deceased wife and saying: “You’re joining her today”.

A 999 operator heard Gallen shouting: “I’m going to kill you Dad”.

Police forced their way into the flat at Loganlea Drive and found Mr Gallen senior, 77, bleeding heavily with swelling to his face. He required 60 stitches to his wounds.

His son struggled with officers and when asked to calm down said: “I’ll go over to the school and kill all the kids.”

Gallen junior pled not guilty to attempted murder and lodged a special defence that he was suffering a mental disorder. The Crown accepted he should be acquitted by reason of the special defence.

Judge Lord Doherty ruled that Gallen be detained in the State Hospital at Carstairs.

Advocate depute Adrian Cottam told the court that the father had been diagnosed as housebound and suffered from diabetes and arthritis.

His son had moved in to help with his mobility and the arrangement appeared to be working for both of them.

Mr Gallen senior was reading in the kitchen when his son came in and threw his father’s glasses and walking frame across the room.

Gallen junior then punched his father and tried to choke him before taking off his shorts and shouting: “Thank you God for sending me a message to do your work.”

Gallen left the room and his father managed to make an emergency call. The son returned with a pillow which he put over his father’s face but he was able to push it to the side to be able to breathe.

He saw his son get a knife and he began stabbing the pensioner before suddenly stopping and walking out the room allowing the victim the chance to make another 999 call.

When Gallen junior was challenged by officers he said: “I’ve f***ing lost it.”

He later said: “I can’t believe what I’ve done to my dad. It seemed so real. I was convinced it was real.” He was sent for psychiatric assessment.

Advocate depute Adrian Cottam said the victim was initially very angry with his son following the assault on December 13 but had become more sympathetic.

Defence solicitor advocate Matthew Auchincloss said: “Denis Gallen loves his father very much.” He said it was as yet unclear why “this manic episode” occurred on this day. He added: “It is quite clear he was deeply unwell.”


Carstairs, where Gallen has been sent, will always be associated by many with the infamous escape of Thomas McCulloch and Robert Mone in the 1970s.

In 1976, the pair, who had become lovers, broke out of the Lanarkshire hospital and held a family hostage before finally being caught.

An insider said: “Since their day lots has been done to enhance both treatment and security.”