Garda Tony Golden was shot in the back as he helped assault victim, inquest told

Jury returns verdict of unlawful killing, adding Garda Golden died of multiple gunshot wounds

 

Conor Lally

The jury at the inquest into the death of Garda Tony Golden has returned a verdict of unlawful killing, adding Garda Golden died of multiple gunshot wounds.

He was shot five times by dissident republican Adrian Crevan Mackin who had subjected his [Mackin’s] partner to a vicious eight-hour attack, the jury of of five women and four men heard.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis told the hearing in Dundalk, Co Louth, the postmortem showed Garda Golden was shot several times as he faced into the gunfire but the fatal wound was to the back.

That shot entered the upper back of Garda Golden, traversing the chest cavity, causing the deceased’s lung to collapse and severing an artery, the opening day of the inquest heard.

Dr Curtis told the inquest into Garda Golden’s death a toxicology test showed no alcohol or any other substance of relevance in Garda Golden’s system. The inquest opened in Dundalk, Co Louth on Monday morning.

Garda Golden (36) was shot by dissident republican Adrian Crevan Mackin during a domestic incident at a house on the Mullach Álainn estate just outside the village of Omeath, Co Louth, on October 11th, 2015.

Mackin also shot his partner Siobhán Philips (24) four times, including in the head, as she was gathering her personal items from her home to leave him.

After shooting Garda Golden dead and shooting Ms Philips repeatedly he then took his own life.

Garda Golden was intervening in a domestic violence incident at the time and was trying to bring Ms Philips to a place of safety after she was very badly beaten the previous day. He was awarded the highest possible award for bravery in the Garda, the gold Scott Medal, last year.

Eight-hour attack

The inquest was told on Monday Mackin had subjected Ms Philips, his partner at the time and the mother of his two children, to a sustained verbal and physical attack over eight hours. He had beaten her with his fist and his knees and had taken a steak knife from the kitchen and cut her twice.

In her statement read to the inquest Ms Philips said when she arrived home from work at about 10pm on Friday, October 9th, 2010, the abuse began.

Over several hours she said he attacked her, with his fists and his knees and by choking her and spitting in her face.

“He could calm down after getting the violence out of his system,” her statement said.

But after becoming calm after each wave of violence he would “work himself up again talking to himself” and the attack would begin again.

When she finally convinced him to go to bed she lay in bed with her clothes on waiting for him to fall asleep.

However, he was restless and could not sleep and told her to go and make him food before eating it and turning on her again.

“He told me to get the fuck out (of bed), to sleep over there on the floor like a dog,” her statement said. “I’m going to treat you like a dog so get used to it.”

The attack continued into the next morning when Ms Philips said she asked if she was allowed to go to work in Newry.

She said Mackin told her to cover up her facial injuries with make-up and go to work. However, when she got there she was sent home because of her injuries.

She contacted her father and he collected her and they sought the help of gardaí .

With her father she told the gardaí that Mackin had attacked her and also made verbal threats that he would attack her family. While Omeath station was closed, gardaí in Dundalk told Ms Philips she needed to immediately get medical treatment at hospital as a statement of complaint from her could only be taken once she had been treated.

She was also advised by gardaí not to go back to the house she shared with Mackin in Omeath. And she was advised on the barring and safety orders she could take out on both sides of the Border.

An arrangement was put in place for her to meet Garda Tony Golden in Omeath Garda station the following afternoon, after she had been medically treated.

She did so and Garda Golden told her he would bring her to her house in Omeath to collect her person items.

In his evidence, Sean Philips said Garda Golden insisted that the initial outline of the violence she had been subjected to should be followed up with a formal statement of complaint.

“Tony said ‘you can’t be intimidated by a bully’,” Mr Philips told the inquest hearing today.

Visit to house

He said he went in the Garda car from Omeath station to the house his daughter shared with Mackin. In the vehicle was Garda Golden, Ms Philips and her father.

However, when they rounded a corner close to the house they saw Mackin’s car parked outside.

“Siobhán said ‘oh fuck, his car is there’,” Mr Philips told the inquest. “I said ‘don’t worry love, he’s hurt you enough and he won’t hurt you no more.”

They pulled up to the house and Garda Golden went inside with Ms Philips as her father remained in the car outside.

“Tony said I should stay in the car. He said ‘let’s play it 100 per cent by the book so there’s no comeback,” Mr Philips said.

Garda Golden took Ms Philips back to the house she shared with Mackin so she could collect her clothes and personal items. When they went in Mackin said to her: “I won’t hurt you pet. We’ve been trough too much, you’re not leaving me.”

Though Garda Golden tried to calm the situation Mackin shot him and Ms Philips and then took his own life.

Ms Philips father was outside in the Garda car and ran to a nearby house to call gardaí about the volley of shots he had heard from inside the house his daughter and Garda Golden had just gone into.

The opening session of the inquest into the murder of Garda Golden has also heard that Ms Philips had earlier claimed she was bruised when Mackin pressed a gun against her ankle and bruised it.

However, Ms Philips’ father Sean told the inquest at no point did he realise Mackin had access to firearms. He said he would never have gone to the house where his daughter was living with Mackin had he known Mackin had guns or access to them.

And he said he would never have asked Garda Golden, or any other gardaí, to go to the house.

Under questioning in the witness box Mr Philips faced a sustained line of questioning from James McGuill, acting on behalf of Garda Golden’s family.

Access to guns

Mr McGuill repeatedly put it to Mr Philips that both he and his daughter knew Mackin had access to firearms yet this information was not relayed to Garda Golden or the other gardaí who dealt with the Philips family in the 48 hours before the shooting.

Mr McGuill put it to Mr Philips that repeated media interviews he had given since the shooting had suggested Garda Golden’s colleagues failed to act appropriately in dealing with a person of Mackin’s background and that this was untrue and a cause of “great distress”.

Mr McGuill said it was Ms Philips who knew that her partner had accessed to firearms and it was she who chose not to share this information with Garda Golden and his colleagues before she was accompanied by Garda Golden to the house in Omeath on the day the shooting occurred.

Mr Philips had denied he knew about the guns. And he said when he had asked his daughter about her allegedly having told people Mackin had guns and threatened her, she had not responded substantively.

The inquest was told that Mackin began dating Ms Philips around 2010 when she was aged 15 of 16. Within months, when she was aged 16 years, she became pregnant with the first of their two children.

They have lived in Newry, when Ms Philips worked in a hairdressing salon and where he parents lived, and also later in Omeath, Co Louth.

Mackin’s sister Sinéad Hynes gave evidence to the hearing today. She and Mackin shared a mother. However, her mother married again and had four children, including Adrian Crevan Mackin.

‘Abandonned’

She said her step brother had been diagnosed with asbergers and ADHD when he was still in national school.

“He was s difficult child; his behaviour was not normal,” she said, adding he would act and not think of the consequences.

When he was a teenager and had engaged in crime such as breaking into houses and crashing cars, she had persuaded him to check himself into a psychiatric unit in Craigavon, which he did.

While he was in that unit, Ms Hynes said her mother, husband and their other children moved to Australia.

Ms Hynes said her mother asked her not to tell Mackin they were moving, and she complied with that request.

In 2008 when her stepbrother came out of the psychiatric unit he began living in Simon Community housing in Newry. At that point she had to tell him he had been “abandoned” by his parents.

Ms Hynes said it was while he was living in the Simon Community accommodation in Newry that he began to mix with Republicans and began to speak about republican politics for the first time.

And around 2010 he met Siobhán, while he was living in Newry and she was working there. The following year their first child, a boy, was born.

“He told me if it was a boy they would call him Pádraig Pearse,” Ms Hynes said.

She said that it was shortly after the boy was born that the PSNI raided the home shared by Siobhán, Mackin and their baby. During that raid, the inquest was told this morning, a computer was taken and illegal sexual images were found on the computer, including of bestiality.

However, while social services then became involved with the family and told Ms Philips not to allow Mackin access to their child, their relationship continued.

Ms Hynes said when her step brother’s and Ms Philips’ next child was born in 2014, it was only then that social services realised they were still together and that her step brother still had access to the children.

The couple then moved to Co Louth to “get away from” social services in the North, Ms Hynes said. However, in the autumn of 2014, Ms Hynes said, Siobhán was told if she continued the relationship with Mackin her children would be taken from her.The children went to live with Siobhán’s father and his second wife. While the children lived north of the Border with their grandfather and step grandmother, Ms Philips and Mackin continued to live in a rented house south of the Border in Omeath.

In January, 2015, Mackin was charged with membership of the IRA and spent four weeks in custody in Portlaoise Prison. However, he was given bail and returned to the house in Omeath to live with Ms Philips.

In her statement read to the inquest hearing today, she said Mackin became convinced she had been unfaithful to him while he was in prison and he became repeatedly violent.

The inquest continues.