Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Calls for public inquiry following conclusion of Garda Golden inquest

A jury has returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the death of Garda officer Tony Golden, who was shot dead in  a murder-suicide incident in Omeath in October 2015.

The inquest heard that the Garda Officer was shot five times by Newry man Adrian Crevan Mackin, who had previously subjected his partner, Jonesborough woman, Siobhan Phillips, to a brutal eight-hour assault.

Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, told the Dundalk hearing that a postmortem showed Garda Golden sustained four bullet wounds while facing the gunman and a fifth fatal shot in the back.  

The Irish police officer was helping Ms Phillips collect belongings from the Mullach Aliann home she shared with Mackin after she had given  Garda Golden a statement detailing the violent assault she had been subjected to two nights previously.  The mother of Mackin’s three children was left with life changing injuries, including being blinded in one eye, after she too was shot in the attack.  The 24-year-old gunman then turned the gun on himself.

Ms Phillips evidence, which was read to the inquest last week, outlined how Mackin had strangled her, cut her with a knife, punched her and kneed her in the ribs during a prolonged attack two nights before the murder. 

The court heard that Ms Philips told her family about the attack, before going to Omeath Garda station, where she was advised to seek medical attention but a statement was not taken at the time – something her father, Sean Philips, who was also a witness in the case, told the inquest he was “agitated” about.

Garda Golden took a statement from Siobhan Phillips the following day and told her she should not be intimidated, suggesting that he would accompany her to the couple’s home to retrieve her belongings.   He advised her father Sean to remain in a car outside while he entered the house with Ms Philips.

Mr Philips, who described hearing three bangs about a minute after the pair had gone inside, followed by three more shots, told the inquest he would not have gone to the house or asked any garda officer to go the house,  if he had known Mackin had access to guns.  He questioned why a “monster” like dissident republican Mackin was “out of jail” given his record and the fact that he faced charges of importing components for guns in January 2015. 

Acting on behalf of Garda Golden’s family, James McGuill repeatedly put it to Mr Philips that both he and his daughter knew Mackin had access to firearms yet had not relayed this information to gardai.  He said several media interviews given by Mr Philips since the shooting suggesting failings in garda dealing with Mackin were  “untrue and a cause of great distress”.

The gunman’s sister also addressed the court, recalling him as a difficult child who displayed abnormal behaviour and began breaking into houses as a teenager. She said he later moved into the Simon Community accommodation after his family moved to Australia without informing him.  

Speaking after last week’s inquest, the Philip’s family reiterated their demand for a public inquiry to learn the truth they believe is being buried about Adrian Crevan Mackin’s alleged links to dissident paramilitaries.  Speaking to the Newry Reporter, Sean Philips said he wished to co-operate with and be represented at the follow-up inquest into Mackin’s death and insisted that “the push for truth” can only be achieved by both an Article 2 compliant inquest and a public inquiry.