Garda Ombudsman launches investigation into murder of Garda Tony Golden
The Garda Ombudsman has confirmed that it has launched an investigation into the murder of Garda Tony Golden in Omeath 18 months ago.
The father of three, from Blackrock in Co Louth, was killed on October 11th 2015 by Adrian Crevan Mackin after calling to his home in the North Louth village.
Garda Golden had been escorting Mr Mackin’s girlfriend Siobhan Phillips to the property she shared with him so she could remove her belongings after claiming that the 25-year-old had beaten her. When they arrived at the house Mackin opened fire, killing Garda Golden and maiming Ms Phillips. He then turned the gun on himself.
Now a year and a half on from an incident that shook the nation, an RTÉ Investigates programme has claimed that Gardaí knew Mackin had guns but chose not to charge him.
25-year-old Mackin had convictions in Northern Ireland for criminal damage, possessing extreme pornography and gun and ammunition possession.
In January 2015, less than halfway through a three year suspended sentence for the latter crime, he was arrested after gardaí found explosives material at his home in Omeath.
According to transcripts of his subsequent interrogation at Dundalk Garda Station, seen by RTÉ Investigates, Mackin admitted illegally buying and importing parts for six guns and materials that could be used in bomb-making, including pipe bombs.
He also admitted during questioning to storing two pistols at a derelict cottage in Louth.
Mackin’s sister, who asked not to be named as part of the programme, told RTÉ Investigates that her brother confessed to her, after he was released on bail in 2015, that he had been making money from illegal arms sales to paramilitaries.
He had “been buying parts for guns that have been decommissioned,” she said.
He then added or replaced parts from other guns to re-commission the weapons, she said, and sold them “on to republicans.”
Although Mackin admitted to gun possession and importing materials that could be used in bomb making, the interrogation transcripts show he consistently denied IRA membership. However, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions instructed Gardaí to charge him not with firearms or explosives crimes but with IRA membership, the very offence he had not admitted.
Mackin’s solicitor at the time, Paul Tiernan, told RTÉ Investigates that he found it “very strange that someone who had admitted possession of firearms and who had admitted the importation of component parts for firearms should have been treated in this way” and “that he wasn’t charged with possession of those firearms.”
Mr Tiernan added that “It would be highly unusual. In the vast majority of cases the strongest evidence against people is their own admissions.”
Transcripts of the interrogations show that while Mackin admitted importing parts for six guns, only two were found at the time. The other weapons remained unaccounted for.
Sean Phillips, father of Siobhan, told RTÉ Investigates that he was angered that Mackin was allowed out on bail given his history and his admissions.
“This guy should never have been out. What the hell was that boy doing out and who thought it was a bloody good idea to let him out. That’s nuts,” Mr Phillips said.
In a letter to Ms Phillips, GSOC said that its investigation would examine allegations that some Gardaí were aware that Mackin had access to explosives and firearms and “may not have pursued” recovery of these items.
The Ombudsman also said it would investigate a complaint that Siobhán Phillips’s father and stepmother “may not have been treated properly” at Dundalk Garda Station when they went with Siobhán to complain about the beating of their daughter by Mackin.
The Phillips family say that they were not allowed to make a statement at the station and were directed to give a statement at Omeath Garda Station the following day.
Separately, Mackin’s sister formally complained to GSOC last August about issues relating to Garda dealings with her brother.
Although that complaint was made almost seven months ago the investigation was notified in a letter to Ms Phillips written on Wednesday of last week – the same day that RTÉ Investigates sent a list of 15 questions about the incident to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
The GSOC letter stressed that the allegations being investigated “are not proven but due to their seriousness it was decided by the Ombudsman Commission that they must be investigated in the public interest.”
Reacting to the RTÉ Investigates piece, local TD Gerry Adams called for an investigation into the matter and said the Dáil should be recalled to discuss the matter.
He said: “The evidence would indicate that Crevan Mackin was working as a Garda agent at the time of his arrest in January 2015 or subsequent to it. As a result the Gardaí did not charge him with firearms and explosives offences which he admitted to during his questioning in Dundalk Garda station. Subsequently his bail was significantly reduced and he was released from Portlaoise Prison.
“The Garda also failed to thoroughly investigate the information in their possession about other weapons which Mackin had access to.
“Answers must also be provided as to why Gardaí, at both Dundalk and Carlingford stations, refused to register a complaint or to take a statement from Siobhan Phillips when she was visibly scarred, slashed and frightened for her life as a result of serious abuse by Mackin. Her parents, who accompanied her, were also fearful for their daughter’s safety and indeed for their own lives.
“I have previously written to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald on eight occasions, to the Taoiseach four times, and to GSOC three times, to express my grave concerns regarding this case.
“Given the information I provided, I would have expected Minister Fitzgerald and the Taoiseach, after a reasonable period of time, to ensure a proper investigation into the circumstances which led to the shooting of Garda Golden and Siobhan Phillips took place.
“The responses of both the Taoiseach and Minister for Justice have been unsatisfactory.
“I have never received any indication that the government was taking this matter seriously.
“Given that it was known by some senior figures in An Garda Síochána that Crevan Mackin had access to weapons Siobhan Phillips and Garda Golden should not have been placed in this perilous situation.
“The arrest, interrogation and subsequent treatment of Crevan Mackin, an individual with known serious mental health issues, was entirely inappropriate.
“All of the families affected by this need to have truth about the circumstances of Crevan Mackin’s arrest, questioning, charging and relationship with An Garda Síochána.
“Those responsible must be held accountable and, if necessary, they must face a criminal investigation and possibly charges.
“The Taoiseach must now recall the Dáil for next week so that the Minister for Justice can make a full statement and take questions on this very serious matter.”