Accused had ‘smirk on his face’ when CPR was being administered to Garda Colm Horkan, court told

Stephen Silver (46) from Aughavard, Foxford, Co Mayo has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Gda Horkan

A garda has described the moment he rolled over a gunshot victim to discover it was his colleague Garda Colm Horkan, telling a jury: “His eyes were still open but the life had gone out of them.”

The jury in the trial of Stephen Silver (46), Aughavard, Foxford, Co Mayo, also heard on Wednesday that the accused “had a smirk on his face” when CPR was being administered to Gda Horkan after the garda was shot eleven times with his own gun at Castlerea, Co Roscommon on June 17th, 2020.

Mr Silver has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Gda Horkan knowing or being reckless as to whether he was a member of An Garda Siochana acting in accordance with his duty. He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Garda Aidan Fallon gave evidence at the Central Criminal Court to counsel for the prosecution, Michael Delaney SC, that he was on patrol on June 17th, 2020, when he saw two men at a doorway and both men had their hands on each other in some form of a struggle that the witness described as “grappling”.


Gda Fallon said he stopped the patrol car and was about to get out when he heard a number of gunshots from the area where both men were.

He said he saw a man lying in the middle of the road and the other man standing over him with a gun. Gda Fallon said he then heard two more shots.

He said that the man was still lying on the ground, while the other man was on his knees with his hands out, shouting, “I shot him, he’s dead.”

Gda Fallon said he went to the man on the ground and pulled him over onto his back to start CPR. He said he saw then that it was Gda Horkan on the ground.

“His eyes were still open but the life had gone out of them, and I instantly thought the worst,” said Gda Fallon.

He said that his colleague Garda Helen Gillen handcuffed the other man, while Gda Fallon started CPR. He told the court that as he was performing CPR, the man said, “You’re doing it wrong, what are you doing?”

“I saw a smirk on his face. He wasn’t saying it in a helpful way, he was trying to antagonise me,” said Gda Fallon.

Gda Fallon said that he asked the man to sit down and he refused. He gave evidence that the man said, “I know what they did to that black man in America”.

Gda Fallon said he told the man that he had shot a detective, and the man said, “Of course I shot him, he had a gun. What kind of a detective wears a red Tommy Hilfiger jacket? He doesn’t look like a good detective now.”

Gda Fallon said that when he and Sergeant Michael O’Hara took the man by the arms, the man became irate and started shouting “Garda abuse”. He told the court that the man then said, “I have the coronavirus,” before he coughed into Gda Fallon’s face four or five times.

He said that when they were arresting him, the man pointed at a badge on his vest with three stripes and said, “That’s the Air Force, you made a big mistake. What kind of detective wears a Hilfiger jacket?”

He confirmed to Mr Delaney that the man arrested was Mr Silver.

During cross-examination by counsel for the defence, Dominic McGinn SC, Gda Fallon confirmed that Mr Silver made a comment about Black Lives Matter.

Sgt Michael O’Hara gave evidence to counsel for the prosecution, James Dwyer SC, that Mr Silver had beads of sweat running down his face and his breathing was heavy as though he had exerted himself.

Sgt O’Hara said that Mr Silver told gardaí he had been walking down Main Street going for a pizza when a man asked him for his name. Sgt O’Hara said that Mr Silver told them he did not know who the man was, and when he saw the man had a gun, he grabbed the gun off him and shot him.

Sgt O’Hara said that Mr Silver was told he had just shot a detective, to which Mr Silver replied: “He wasn’t a very good one.”

The witness also said that Mr Silver started to cough into the gardaí's faces as he was being arrested.

Sgt Bernard Kilroy told Mr Dwyer that he located a handgun at the scene, which he checked and discovered was empty. He said there were quite a number of empty bullet casings on the ground, and the front tyre of a vehicle parked nearby was punctured. He also said that there was a hole in the glass of a business premises window, which he said had been caused by a bullet entering the glass.

Garda Darragh O’Reilly, who was the member in charge at Castlerea Garda Station, told Mr Dwyer that Mr Silver was aggressive towards the gardaí when he was brought to the station.

Gda O’Reilly said that when Mr Silver was asked whether he had shot Gda Horkan, the accused replied: “Yes, we were grappling and the gun went off and it kept going off.”

Gda O’Reilly also told the court that Mr Silver told the gardaí he was bipolar. He said that at one point, when Mr Silver was in a holding cell, Gda O’Reilly noticed blood on the bridge of Mr Silver’s nose and blood on the back wall of the cell. He said that Mr Silver was in a very hyper state, and the garda asked him to calm down and not injure himself further. He said Mr Silver shouted that he wanted a doctor.

The jury also heard from civilian witness John Drury, who lived on Main Street Castlerea. He gave evidence to Mr Delaney that he was at home asleep on June 17th when he was woken up around 11.50pm by a loud shouting and a bang on his gate. He jumped out of bed and went straight to the window, where he saw two men wrestling on the ground outside.

“They were lying face to face like they were wrestling. I heard two bangs and I didn’t know what they were. One man rolled away while the other stayed on the ground and didn’t move,” said Mr Drury. He said the man who rolled away was wearing a hi-vis jacket, black trousers and a backpack, and he had long hair and facial hair.

The witness said the man on the ground did not move. He said the other man rolled onto one knee and then there were three more shots.

“There were three more bangs. He was pointing a gun at the man on the ground with two hands around the gun. He was kneeling on one knee,” said Mr Drury.

The witness said he heard the man say something about a “Castlerea attack” or an “attack in Castlerea” before he stood up.

Mr Drury said he went to check on his children and when he next looked out the window, he saw the man who had done the shooting sitting on the ground with his legs crossed.

“The man who had been shot was lying on the ground and there was no movement,” said Mr Drury. He also told the court that there was a bullet hole in his gate and bullet damage to his wheelie bin.

Witness Tony Harrison gave evidence to Mr Dwyer that he was woken on the night by a commotion outside his apartment. He said he heard an aggressive male voice and then heard “a load of loud banging noises”.

“I thought it was fireworks,” he said.

He said he looked out of the window and saw a man pacing in the road. He said he heard the man shout, “They were trying to rob me,” and he also heard the man say, “This is not America.”

Mr Harrison described the man as being tall with a lean build, long black hair, and dressed in dark clothes.

“His demeanour was like he didn’t know what he was doing, like he was in a different world,” said Mr Harrison.

“He looked like a man who was very unhinged. His eyes were standing out of his head. He looked like someone from a different planet.”

At the opening of the trial, Mr McGinn told the jury that there was no issue with the cause of death in this case, as it was accepted that Gda Horkan tragically died as a result of being shot a number of times. Mr McGinn said that the accused’s responsibility is accepted, as Mr Silver admits shooting and killing Gda Horkan.

“The main issue is Mr Silver’s state of mind at the time,” said Mr McGinn.

The trial continues on Thursday before Ms Justice Tara Burns and the jury of seven men and five women.