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Friday 9 December 2016

Exclusive: Family of gun victim Siobhan Phillips speak, revealing how Garda saved her life

Garda murder: 'It's OK, pet, you're safe now, he can't hurt you'

Published 14/10/2015 | 00:00

Siobhan Phillips (inset, left) and Garda Tony Golden (inset, right) and the scene of the tragedy
Siobhan Phillips (inset, left) and Garda Tony Golden (inset, right) and the scene of the tragedy
Siobhan Phillips, who is fighting for her life after shooting
Flowers at Omeath Garda Station after the murder of Garda Tony Golden. Picture: Mark Condren
A woman expresses sympathy with senior gardaí John Twomey and Donall Ó Cualain after a prayer service at Dundalk Garda Station. Photo: Mark Condren
An ambulance service worker signs a book of condolence for Tony Golden at Dundalk Garda Station. Photo: Mark Condren

'It's OK, pet, you are safe now, he can't hurt you any more."

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These are the final words that Sean Phillips said to his daughter Siobhan Phillips before Adrian Crevan Mackin murdered Garda Tony Golden in a shooting frenzy in a quiet Louth village that has left the young mother of two fighting for her life.

Moments earlier, Mr Phillips and his daughter - accompanied by Garda Golden - drove into the quiet Mullach Alainn housing estate in Omeath, unaware Crevan Mackin (24) was armed and lying in wait.

Read more: Death of Tony Golden: Sorrowful homecoming for hero garda and family man

On Sunday afternoon, when the whole country was focused on the Rugby World Cup clash between Ireland and France, Siobhan Phillips (21) went to Omeath garda station and gave a statement to Garda Golden that she was in fear of her life.

She was not alone: Siobhan was accompanied by her father Sean Phillips and stepmother Norma Phillips. There, too, was her aunt Lorraine McBride and her brother Ryan Phillips.

The Book of Condolences for the late Garda Anthony Golden at Dundalk Garda Station, Co. Louth. Photo: Caroline Quinn
The Book of Condolences for the late Garda Anthony Golden at Dundalk Garda Station, Co. Louth. Photo: Caroline Quinn
An Irish flag flies at half mast at Dundalk Garda Station, in honour of the late Garda Anthony Golden. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan at Dundalk Garda Station for a mass after the murder of Garda Anthony Golden. Pic:Mark Condren 13.10.2015
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan at Dundalk Garda Station for a mass after the murder of Garda Anthony Golden. Pic:Mark Condren 13.10.2015
People arrive at Dundalk Garda Station for a mass after the murder of Garda Anthony Golden. Pic:Mark Condren 13.10.2015
Archdeacon of Dublin David Pierpoint arriving at Dundalk Garda Station for a mass after the murder of Garda Anthony Golden. Pic:Mark Condren 13.10.2015
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan at Dundalk Garda Station for a mass after the murder of Garda Anthony Golden. Pic:Mark Condren 13.10.2015
The scene of the shooting in Omeath, Co Louth
Flowers are left at the scene of the shooting of Garda Tony Golden in Omeath
Gardai at the estate entrance at the scene of the fatal shooting involving Garda Tony Golden at Mullach Alainn housing estate in Omeath Co Louth. Pic Steve Humphreys 12th October 2015.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan at Dundalk Garda Station during a press conference on the death of Garda Tony Golden
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan at the scene of the shooting of Gda Tony Golden in Omeath, Co Louth
Flowers are left at Omeath Garda Station
Tony Golden was the 88th member of the force to be killed in the line of duty
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan at the scene of the fatal shooting in Omeath Co Louth. Pic Steve Humphreys 12th October 2015.

On Friday evening, Siobhan - who concealed much of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Crevan Mackin from her family in order to protect them - was subjected to a prolonged overnight attack by Crevan Mackin. He threatened to kill her and her entire family.

Siobhan was "battered black and blue" when she left her home on Saturday morning to go to work as a hairdresser in her native Newry. She applied makeup to conceal her facial wounds and even put blue and black eyeshadow on one of her eyes to make it seem as if the marbled look was intended.

It was anything but.

Nothing could conceal her fear and on Saturday afternoon she called her stepmother Norma Phillips with the simple words "Norma, I'm terrified."

Following Siobhan's cry for help, the Phillips family travelled immediately to Dundalk Garda Station on Saturday to make a formal complaint about Crevan Mackin, but say they were told they had to make the complaint at Siobhan's local garda station in Omeath.

Adrian Crevan Mackin was well known to gardai in Louth. At the time of Garda Golden's murder, he was signing on three times a week after being charged in the Special Criminal Court last January on charges of membership of the IRA.

Such were her injuries, Siobhan Phillips attended Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry on Saturday night, where staff expressed alarm at the seriousness and notified the PSNI about the assault.

Siobhan did not return to her home on Saturday night and ensured her children were safe with family. Determined never to return to Crevan Mackin, Siobhan and her family travelled on Sunday to Omeath.

There they met Garda Golden, who listened to her story and dutifully took her statement.

Read more: Slain Garda Tony Golden to be honoured with State funeral

It was, says Sean Phillips, the first time that Siobhan had felt safe - safe enough to venture home to Mullach Alainn and retrieve some belongings. Garda Golden said he would accompany Siobhan Phillips for what proved to be a final, fatal assignment.

Entering into Mullach Alainn, the trio saw Crevan Mackin's car. Garda Golden told Sean Phillips to remain in the car so as not to aggravate Crevan Mackin.

Garda Golden and Siobhan Phillips opened the front door and entered the property. According to Sean, Garda Golden informed Crevan Mackin that they were simply there to retrieve some of her belongings.

Words were exchanged, but to no avail as, after a few moments, Garda Golden and Siobhan Phillips were met by a hail of bullets fired by Crevan Mackin, who turned an illegal Glock handgun on the pair before killing himself. Sean Phillips is in no doubt that Garda Golden saved Siobhan's life and spared his.

Such were Crevan Mackin's threats, the Newry businessman also believes the lives of others were saved by Garda Golden's courage. "Garda Golden, in the service and protection of others, laid down his life for my daughter Siobhan, myself and my family - there are no words to express our gratitude for his bravery," he said. "He saved my life. We are praying for Siobhan's recovery and for the family of Garda Golden as they face immeasurable grief," he added.

Maintaining a round the clock vigil at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital, Sean Phillips agonises over whether the shocking incident might not have occurred had Siobhan Phillips made a statement to gardai on Saturday.

He feels that it may.

When he speaks of Garda Golden's wife and family, Mr Phillips collapses into tears.

He is inconsolable when asked about the future for Siobhan and her children if his daughter holds on to life.

"Siobhan may not pull through, we just don't know," he says. "But no matter what happens, it's a long, long road".

Update: The family of Siobhan Phillips have on Wednesday morning issued a statement paying tribute to Gda Golden and asking for privacy.

“We would like to pay tribute to and express our condolences to the family and colleagues of Garda Anthony Golden," it reads.

"Garda Golden, in the service and protection of others, laid down his life for my daughter Siobhan, myself and my family.

"There are no words to express our gratitude for his bravery, we are forever in his debt.

"Our beautiful daughter Siobhan, a loving mother, sister and friend, is fighting for her life.

"For now, we pray for Siobhan's recovery and for the family of Garda Golden as they face their immeasurable grief.

"We ask for privacy for our family and Siobhan's small children at this time.”

Irish Independent

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