'Miracle' recovery for Siobhan as she smiles and speaks for first time since horrific shooting
The family of Siobhan Phillips has said it is "a miracle" that she survived being shot by her former partner, garda killer Adrian Crevan Mackin.
Her mother Bronagh and her aunt Lorraine said Siobhan (21) has regained consciousness.
While they said their dearest wish is that she will be well enough to leave hospital before Christmas, they know that is unlikely to happen.
In the same attack in Omeath, Co Louth, on October 11, Mackin (25) murdered Garda Tony Golden, who was helping Siobhan collect her belongings, as she was about to leave Mackin, having endured nearly a year of physical abuse at his hands.
Siobhan underwent surgery to remove a bullet that had lodged in her head and has lost her right eye.
While she has begun to speak, it is still "very early days" and medics do not know how her brain has been affected.
"She is doing OK but we won't know the full extent (of how she is) until she really starts talking. At the moment she is not asking questions about anything," said Lorraine.
Speaking at her home in Omeath, Lorraine said doctors have told them how, after a brain trauma, "the brain just shuts down". "Siobhan doesn't know what has happened to her at all."
Lorraine said her niece was shot in both arms and said: "She must have had her arms up to protect herself. She was shot twice in her left arm and it ricocheted off one of her bones and there is some shrapnel embedded in her."
Siobhan needed surgery to insert pins into both arms.
Fortunately, Lorraine said, the bullet that hit Siobhan's forehead never penetrated her brain. "The bullet hit off her skull and as a result of this injury she has lost her right eye." However, after weeks of intensive care in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Siobhan is showing signs of improvement.
"She is smiling and knows everything you are saying but she is not asking any questions. She does know everybody that comes into her.
"It is a miracle that she is not paralysed. She seems to be getting there but it is a long road ahead of her," Lorraine added.
Bronagh said she thinks about the family of Garda Golden each day. The Golden family have also been in touch with Siobhan and her family.
"We think about the family of Garda Golden every day. His family have been in contact and his brother came to see Siobhan in hospital. That meant so much to us," said Bronagh.
Siobhan, who had two young children with Mackin, was training to be a hair-dresser in Newry. She and Mackin had known each other for five years and Lorraine said Siobhan was initially besotted with him.
However, after Mackin was released on bail last January, having been charged with IRA membership before the Special Criminal Court, he began to beat her.
Lorraine confirmed that on Sunday, October 11, the day Siobhan made her first statement of complaint to Garda Golden at Omeath Garda Station, was also the first time she heard about the domestic violence.
"That (previous) Friday night he had battered her for hours," she said. Lorraine believes Siobhan was trying to leave Mackin for the last year and the beating on the Friday night was the final one she would endure.
"The only person who knows what happened in the house is Siobhan. The doctors said her memory might come back and then again it might not."