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Gardaí involved in six fatal shootings in the line of duty since 1998


Mark Hennessy was shot dead by gardaí in 2018

Mark Hennessy was shot dead by gardaí in 2018

Mark Hennessy was shot dead by gardaí in 2018

The fatal shooting of George Nkencho by armed gardaí was the sixth such tragedy over the past 22 years despite thousands of incidents in which gardaí have believed their lives to be under imminent threat while on duty.

Prior to the shooting of Mr Nkencho this week, the most recent fatal shooting by gardaí was on May 20, 2018, when gardaí shot dead 40-year-old Mark Hennessy in his car.

Hennessy had abducted and killed 24-year-old student Jastine Valdez as she walked home along a road in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, the previous day.

An inquest into his death earlier this year was told he used a knife to inflict injuries on himself moments before a senior garda shot him at the Cherrywood Business Park in Dublin, where he was seen by uniformed gardaí with a knife, as the officer tried to kick open the driver’s window, believing Ms Valdez was in the car.

Gsoc found that the officer had acted in accordance with the law.

The most recent incident before then was almost a decade earlier, in May 2009, when Gareth Molloy (28) from Sheriff Street, Dublin, was shot dead by an undercover garda who was a member of the National Surveillance Unit (NSU).

The garda confronted Molloy during the attempted robbery of a cash-in-transit van that was delivering money to an ATM in a Centra shop in Lucan, Co Dublin.

Molloy had fired a shot from a shotgun and was threatening to kill the security man when he was confronted and shot dead.

Four years earlier, in May 2005, Colm Griffin (33) and Eric Hopkins (24) were shot dead as gardaí launched a sting operation to thwart a €50,000 heist at Lusk post office in north county

Following a week-long and often fraught inquest into the deaths, the jury found the pair were repeatedly warned to disarm by members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) before being shot.

Prior to that, John Carthy (27) was shot dead by gardaí from the Emergency Response Unit on April 20, 2000, following a two-day stand-off at a house in Abbeylara, Co Longford.

His inquest was told how gardaí had been summoned to the house by concerned family members after Carthy, who had a history of mental illness, had fired a gun several times during a dispute in which he was upset about an upcoming move from his old family home.

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The controversial shooting provoked a public outcry over the tactics used by the ERU.

The subsequent Barr Tribunal investigating the siege heard evidence from the Garda Commissioner that the shooting was unavoidable due to the threat that Carthy posed with the gun.

While it did find failings in how gardaí responded, it concluded there was insufficient evidence that the shooting was unlawful.

Previously, Real IRA member Ronan MacLochlainn was shot by a member of the NSU during the armed robbery of a Securicor van in Ashford, Co Wicklow, in May 1998.

A subsequent commission of inquiry led by Mary Rose Gearty, SC, found MacLochlainn was given several opportunities to surrender but he did not do so and instead hijacked the car of a civilian while pointing his gun three times at an approaching garda.

The commission’s report into the shooting 20 years later concluded, in June 2018, that the shooting was “necessary and reasonable” despite finding that an inquiry by gardaí into the fatality was “minimal and substandard” and there was “an unthinkable emphasis on the robbery almost to the exclusion of the shooting”.

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