Monday 16 October 2017

'There are more questions than answers' - family call for public inquiry into shooting of Siobhan Phillips and hero Garda Tony Golden

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
Adrian Crevan Mackin
Garda Tony Golden
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The family of Siobhan Phillips, who suffered life-changing injuries during a shooting in which a garda was murdered, are demanding to know why the officer was allowed to visit the gunman's house unarmed and without back-up.

Ms Phillips' father, Sean, told the Herald he will travel to the Dail next week, just after the second anniversary of the incident, to garner support for a public inquiry.

"There are more questions than answers. This has to have an inquiry," he said.

On October 11, 2015, Adrian Crevan Mackin (24) shot Gda Tony Golden dead and seriously injured Ms Phillips, who was then 21, in Omeath, Co Louth. He then killed himself.

Adrian Crevan Mackin
Adrian Crevan Mackin

Ms Phillips was Mackin's partner and had complained to gardai the day before the shooting after he beat her severely and threatened to kill her and her family.

It later emerged that Mackin admitted possessing guns nine months previously, but was not charged with these offences. Instead, the DPP had directed gardai to charge him with membership of the IRA. He was bailed.

statement

An investigation by RTE's Prime Time, broadcast last April, raised questions about whether an attempt was made to use Mackin as an informant.

Mr Phillips told the Herald he believes gardai had a "don't touch" policy on Mackin, and he raised concerns about officers failing to take a statement when he and his daughter reported the domestic violence.

He said the family, including his wife, Norma - Siobhan's stepmother - had a list of questions he wanted a public inquiry to answer.

Garda Tony Golden
Garda Tony Golden

"What part did the garda play in getting Mackin bail? Why did the garda not act quickly to protect our family when they must have known Mackin had a violent history?" he said.

"Why was Tony Golden allowed to go to Mackin's home unarmed and without back-up?

"Why were Siobhan and myself taken to the house of this guy and put at risk? And Tony Golden as well."

Mr Phillips said the family want to know what information was available to gardai before the shooting.

"Two years have gone by and none of these questions have been answered," he said.

"The first 24 hours after he attempted to murder Siobhan on the Saturday, we also told the gardai that he threatened to kill not just Siobhan but our kids and Siobhan's kids and myself and my wife.

"Basically, we were told, 'We're not taking a statement, Siobhan could have a brain injury, she needs medical help, we won't take a statement'.

"They also refused to take a statement from ourselves. We couldn't believe what had just happened."

A garda spokesman said no comment could be made on claims that officers initially refused to take the domestic violence complaint, due to an ongoing Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigation.

Mr Phillips said they later called the PSNI - the family live on the border - who knew Mackin's record.

Mr Phillips said he was told by a PSNI officer that, if the incident had happened in the North, they would have had an armed response unit go to the house to arrest Mackin.

"We wouldn't have been allowed to leave the hospital until he was arrested," Mr Phillips said, recounting what the PSNI had told him.

"Apart from all the failings, this lad was let out in the first place. He had 47 charges against him between north and south.

"Apart from him being released on bail, why, when we pleaded for help, were we refused that?

"For other women looking for help with the gardai, if they're looking on and seeing what happened to Siobhan, I have no faith. They wouldn't go to the gardai."

Mr Phillips said his daughter is on the road to recovery, but still needed plastic surgery.

She has begun walking and talking again, but has an acquired brain injury. He said she has been left a damaged woman.

A GSOC spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment, given its ongoing investigation.

"A committed community guard who was protecting a vulnerable person, Gda Tony Golden was murdered in cold blood for simply doing his job," a garda statement said.

"His bravery, his courage and resolve will never be forgot- ten by the community of Omeath, the country he served, the garda family and his own loved ones."

Herald

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