Call for high level investigation into factors of Garda murder

April 24, 2017

The family of a Jonesboro woman, who was shot in the head by her partner before he killed a garda and then himself, has called for a top level inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the case.

Siobhan Phillips was critically injured in the incident at her home in Mullach Alainn, Omeath in October 2015 when her partner Adrian Crevan Mackin shot dead Garda Tony Golden as he was responding to a domestic abuse complaint.  Mackin then turned the gun on himself.

Circumstances surrounding the incident were reported on RTE’s Primetime programme on Thursday last and uncovered a litany of errors in the handling of Mackin who had a history of violence and was known to police on both sides of the border.  It’s alleged the 25-year-old may have been operating as a Garda informer and was freed on bail just weeks earlier, despite having admitted to possessing weapons during an interview with detectives.

Siobhan Phillips’ father, Sean, who was at the scene of the shooting but had been told by Garda Golden to wait in the car, says he has “no faith” in an investigation led by the Garda Ombudsman and instead has called for a full public inquiry “at the highest level”.

The Primetime documentary raised questions about why Mackin was not convicted on weapons charges after admitting to possessing guns and ammunition during an interview with detectives, but was instead charged with an offence he did not admit to, namely membership of the IRA.

His family have also alleged he was an informer and have questioned why he was freed on bail after being arrested for buying weapons online.

Mackin had a string of convictions, including a firearms offence in the north for which he was serving a three-year suspended jail sentence, as well as convictions for criminal damage, shoplifting and pornography.

The RTE programme also reported that Mackin was sent to Portlaoise Prison to “spy” on the Real IRA and was later released on reduced bail after republicans banned him from their wing amid suspicions he was an informer.

In a statement released in response to last week’s programme, Katie McAllister, from Madden and Finucane Solicitors, which is representing the Phillips family, said the revelations were a “significant development in relation to the family’s pursuit for information and accountability relating to the serious shooting of Siobhan on 11th October 2015 and the serious threat to the family beforehand.”

“These revelations raise issues of significant public importance and require an investigation at the highest level,” she added.

“We have been instructed to issue proceedings in the High Court in Dublin and we will be writing to Frances Fitzgerald, the Minister for Justice, requesting that she immediately establish a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Siobhan and the murder of Garda Golden.”

Siobhan’s father said the family hope a public inquiry will lead to changes in Irish bail laws and in the treatment of domestic abuse victims. He described his daughter’s ongoing recovery since the shooting as “nothing short of a miracle.”

“He shot her in the forehead between the eyes and we were told that her injuries were so bad that she wouldn’t make it.”

Fianna Fáil’s Justice and Equality Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan, said the Primetime documentary had raised “issues of considerable concern,” particularly the fact that Mackin’s release from Portlaoise prison on bail had permitted “this dangerous man, who was self-medicating for anxiety, back into the community.”

He said Garda Golden should have been made aware prior to accompanying Siobhan Phillips to Mackin’s home in Omeath that Mackin was a dangerous man who had admitted to the importation and possession of guns.

“Had Garda Golden been aware of these factors he most probably would not have approached the premises without armed support,” he added.

“If Mackin was a Garda informant, as was suggested by the programme, and was prosecuted with an offence that would facilitate his informing, rather than the serious offences to which he admitted, then this needs to be explained by the relevant authorities.

“Garda operational matters are not the concern of politicians but if decisions are made by State authorities that expose the community to danger, then those decisions must be explained and subject to scrutiny.

Sinn Féin president and Louth TD Gerry Adams said all of the families affected by the gun attack need to have truth about the circumstances of Mackin’s arrest, questioning, charging and relationship with An Garda Siochana.