Mother appeals for killer of ‘innocent boy’ to give himself up

Sam Smith was shot aged 23 in 2005 at the door of his sister’s house in Sligo

The mother of a 23-year-old Sligo man who was shot dead on his sister’s doorstep almost 11 years ago has appealed to the killer to give himself up.

Mary Smith was speaking after a jury at Sligo coroner's court returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in the case of her son, Sam Smith. He was shot twice when he answered a knock on the front door of the house where he was living at Carroll Drive, Cranmore, Sligo, on December 30th, 2005.

Mrs Smith, who was visiting a daughter in England when her son was shot, wept outside Sligo courthouse as she described him as "an innocent boy". She urged whoever was responsible to "own up to what they did and give the family closure". Nobody has been charged in connection with the killing, and gardaí believe it is unlikely any new evidence will emerge at this stage, the jury heard. Margaret Smith, a sister of the victim who lived near the house where her brother was shot, recalled that she was preparing for bed that night when she heard three loud bangs closeby. "I was in bed a few minutes when the phone rang and I was told Sam had been shot," she told gardaí.

‘Awful fright’

Robert Smith,a brother of the victim, said he and Sam were living with their sister Bernadette at the time He was upstairs watching television when he heard a knock on the door at about 11.15pm and he went out on to the landing as Sam answered it. “I saw Sam open the door and then he slammed it closed quickly as if got an awful fright,” the witness recalled in a statement.


He said he had heard a loud bang and saw his brother fall to the floor. The witness said his brother struggled upstairs and lay on the bed, appealing to him to call an ambulance. Robert said he asked his brother who had been at the door and “he said he did not know”.

He did not know Sam had been shot until he got to the hospital. Coroner Eamon MacGowan heard that an ambulance was called but friends and family drove the injured man to Sligo hospital. Helen Farrell, a friend who drove the car, said she could see that Sam Smith's stomach and arm were bleeding and he was "going in and out of consciousness".

Mr MacGowan described the case as “the violent death with a firearm of an innocent person”. Extending sympathy to the family, he said “we have got used to shootings on the east coast with tit for tat shootings”. But he said this was not the case here where an innocent man had been shot down in a family setting. Gardaí believe the man who killed Sam Smith is a local career criminal.

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland