THE MAK­ING OF A GARDA KILLER

The bru­tal killing of Garda Tony Golden in Co Louth in 2015 shocked the Ir­ish pub­lic. Three years later, the blame game over his death con­tin­ues

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - Conor Lally Se­cu­rity and Crime Edi­tor

‘My name is Si ob­han Philips,” reads the state­ment given to the Garda. “I be­gan a re­la­tion­ship with Cre­van Mackin in Novem­ber 2010. We have two chil­dren to­gether but they are in the cus­tody of my fa­ther.

“Cre­van be­gan to be phys­i­cally abu­sive to me from June 2015,” Siob­han Philips’s state­ment con­tin­ued. “He would have grabbed me by the hair, the throat, punched me, kicked me, threatened me with a knife, threatened to put a ket­tle of boil­ing wa­ter over me. [ He] would have threatened to kill me.”

“I am afraid of what Cre­van Mackin will do to me or my fam­ily.”

Shortly after sign­ing this state­ment on Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 11th, 2015, Siob­han Philips (23) was shot four times, in­clud­ing one bul­let to the head, in the house she shared with her part­ner Adrian Cre­van Mackin in Omeath, Co Louth. De­spite th­ese in­juries, she sur­vived the shoot­ing.

Garda Tony Golden, who had taken the state­ment from her, was shot five times and killed in the same at­tack.

Golden’s killer, and Siob­han’s tor­menter, Cre­van Mackin took his own life im­me­di­ately after mur­der­ing Garda Golden and try­ing to kill Philips.

Mackin was a con­victed crim­i­nal with a trou­bled past. He had been charged with IRA mem­ber­ship months be­fore his death and was on bail for that charge.

He had pre­vi­ously been given a three-year sus­pended sen­tence on firearms charges in the North and had con­vic­tions for il­le­gal sex­ual pho­to­graphs and videos, in­clud­ing im­ages of bes­tial­ity.

Sev­eral in­quiries are un­der way into this tragic and un­usual case, which is com­pli­cated by al­le­ga­tions that Mackin was also a Garda in­former.

It has been al­leged that be­cause he was an in­former, his vi­o­lence to­wards Philips was not acted on as quickly as it could have been. As a re­sult, it has been al­leged, Mackin was at lib­erty to mur­der Golden.

Garda Golden

Tony – or Ton­ester – Golden was a 36-year-old fa­ther of three. Orig­i­nally from Co Mayo, he had set­tled in Black­rock, Co Louth. The lo­cal com­mu­nity, and in­deed the coun­try, was stunned by the bru­tal­ity of his mur­der, 2 ½ years after the shoot­ing dead of an­other garda in the Louth di­vi­sion: Det Garda Adrian Dono­hoe. Both men were given State fu­ner­als and posthu­mously awarded Scott medals for brav­ery.

Some 7,000 peo­ple, half of them gar­daí, lined the streets of Black­rock, Co Louth, on the day of Golden’s funeral. His widow Ni­cola led the mourn­ers with their three chil­dren: An­drew, Lucy and Alex. Ev­ery se­nior politi­cian in the State was present, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Michael Hig­gins.

Tony Golden was the quin­tes­sen­tial pro­tec­tive big brother grow­ing up in Far­ra­noo, Bal­lina, Co Mayo, his younger sib­ling Pa­trick told his funeral Mass. Golden was de­scribed as a man of the peo­ple, tak­ing an ac­tive part in the lo­cal res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tion. He had com­piled a memo for them shortly be­fore his mur­der on how Garda re­sources in the area had been dec­i­mated – a con­tro­ver­sial sub­ject after his shoot­ing.

Golden had al­ways wanted to be a garda and worked in se­cu­rity in Mayo in the years be­tween fin­ish­ing school and ful­fill­ing his dream of se­cur­ing a place on the force. Col­leagues de­scribed him as metic­u­lous, em­pathic and a great lis­tener, ide­ally suited to com­mu­nity po­lice work. He was a lover of the GAA, es­pe­cially hurl­ing, and had played for Bal­lina Stevenites be­fore leav­ing the west to at­tend the Garda Col­lege in Tem­ple­more.

His first post­ing was in Cabin­teely, Dublin, and he had been based in Omeath for six years be­fore his mur­der. As a lo­cal garda and Louth dis­trict nurse, he and Ni­cola were re­garded as pil­lars of their com­mu­nity whose lives re­volved around their chil­dren.

The in­quest into the mur­der of Garda Golden, which took place last Mon­day, con­cluded he was un­law­fully killed.

Dur­ing the hear­ing so­lic­i­tor James McGuill, act­ing on be­half of Ni­cola Golden, said the in­quest was an op­por­tu­nity for mis­in­for­ma­tion that had built up around the case to be chal­lenged and the record cor­rected. He said the al­le­ga­tions that Garda Golden’s col­leagues ef­fec­tively stood back from Mackin, leav­ing him free to kill, be­cause he was an in­former were un­true. And he pointed out those al­le­ga­tions, es­pe­cially from Siob­han’s fa­ther Seán Philips, had been re­peat­edly pub­lished and broad­cast in the me­dia un­chal­lenged.

This had caused great dis­tress to the dead man’s al­ready griev­ing fam­ily and his col­leagues, who had ef­fec­tively been implicated in caus­ing the mur­der of their fel­low garda, he said.

Cre­van Mackin

Born on Fe­bru­ary 9th, 1990, Mackin spent the early years of his child­hood in Por­ta­d­own, Co Ar­magh. He was the sec­ond el­dest of four sib­lings, three boys and a girl; his mother also had a daugh­ter from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship.

The fam­ily moved to Rostrevor, Co Down, when Creven Mackin was about eight. There, his mother ran a shel­ter for the el­derly. A house for her fam­ily was one of the perks of the job. Mackin’s fa­ther was a so­cial worker.

His half- sis­ter, Sinead Hynes, gave a state­ment to the Garda after Mackin’s dev­as­tat­ing shoot­ing in Oc­to­ber, 2015. It de­scribes a trou­bled child strug­gling in the mid­dle of a fam­ily that would later “aban­don” him.

Hynes said she was 15 years older than her half-brother and could see from a very early age “his be­hav­iour was not nor­mal”.

He was un­aware of the con­se­quences of his ac­tions, she said, and was even­tu­ally di- ag­nosed, at 11 or 12, with Asperger’s syn­drome and at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der. In his teenage years, “silly” ac­tions mor­phed into crim­i­nal be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing break-ins and crash­ing cars.

The young Mackin threatened his mother with a knife and aged about 16 was sus­pected of an act of bes­tial­ity with a sheep. He also later threatened the lives of two so­cial work­ers.

“My mother would al­ways make ex­cuses for Cre­van,” Sinead Hynes told gar­daí. “She would al­ways blame some­one else for get­ting Cre­van into trou­ble. She would never lay the blame on him.”

In an ap­par­ent bid to break out of their own in­creas­ingly heavy drink­ing, and to get away from Mackin, his par­ents de­cided to em­i­grate to Aus­tralia.

In Mackin’s early adult­hood, a girl he was “be­sot­ted with” called off the re­la­tion­ship and he be­came de­pressed and be­gan self-med­i­cat­ing.

Hynes con­vinced him to ad­mit him­self to the Blue Stone Unit, a se­cure psy­chi­atric fa­cil­ity in Craigavon hospi­tal in Co Ar­magh. Though his men­tal state im­proved there, it was while he was in the unit that his par­ents, brothers and sis­ter left for Aus­tralia – with­out telling him.

On re­lease from the unit Mackin moved into Si­mon Com­mu­nity ac­com­mo­da­tion in Newry. While liv­ing there, around 2007and 2008, he be­gan mix­ing with repub­li­cans and be­came po­lit­i­cal for the first time.

He se­cured a house in Newry, through the Si­mon Com­mu­nity, and worked for a time in a lo­cal clothes shop.

Mackin met Siob­han Philips around 2010 when she was 16 and he was 20.

Siob­han Philips

Siob­han Philips was born on June 30th, 1994, four years after her par­ents – Seán and Bron­agh – mar­ried. Her mother was from Omeath, Co Louth, and her fa­ther from Newry, Co Down. Philips has two brothers, one three years older than her, an­other three years younger.

When Philips was five, her par­ents sep­a­rated. She went to live with her mother in Louth; later sit­ting her Leav­ing Cert in Bush Post Pri­mary, River­stown, Dun­dalk. After school she pur­sued a hair­dress­ing course in Newry Tech. Men­tion was made at the in­quest that, like Mackin, Philips has Asperger’s syn­drome.

She had be­gun see­ing Mackin while still at school. They had been to­gether about nine months when she be­came preg­nant around the time of her Leav­ing Cert and shortly be­fore her 17th birth­day.

Philips dropped out of her hair­dress­ing course and moved with Mackin into a rented house in the Newry area be­side her mother. The baby – a boy – was born in March 2012.

Not long after the birth, the PSNI raided their house and found il­le­gal pornog­ra­phy, in­clud­ing bes­tial­ity im­ages, on Mackin’s lap­top. He was even­tu­ally con­victed and given a sus­pended sen­tence.

Be­cause of this, so­cial ser­vices in the North be­came in­volved with the fam­ily. In late 2012, they ad­vised Philips to end her re­la­tion­ship with Mackin and told her that un­der no cir­cum­stances should he have ac­cess to their son – whom Mackin wanted to call Pádraig Pearse.

So con­cerned were so­cial ser­vices in Newry about Mackin’s in­ter­est in bes­tial­ity that they sent Siob­han’s mother, Bron­agh Philips, on a six-week course to ed­u­cate her about the links be­tween bes­tial­ity and child sex-abuse.

Siob­han told so­cial ser­vices the re­la­tion­ship with Mackin was over. But she moved, with Mackin and the baby, south of the Bor­der to Omeath to get away from the child wel­fare au­thor­i­ties in the North – though she also spent nights north of the Bor­der with her mother.

In March 2014 they were liv­ing on the Mul­lach Alainn es­tate in Omeath when their sec­ond child, a girl, was born.

Now, so­cial ser­vices re­alised the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Philips and Mackin was far from over, and Philips was given a painful ul­ti­ma­tum by Newry so­cial ser­vices. The chil­dren could go and live with her fa­ther, his sec­ond wife Norma, and their two young chil­dren, in the North – or they would be put up for adop­tion.

In Jan­uary 2015, gar­daí raided the house shared by Mackin and Philips in Omeath.

They had re­ceived a tip-off from the po­lice in the US that Mackin had been buy­ing parts of de­com­mis­sioned guns on­line. He had been re­ceiv­ing the gun parts from the US in the postal ser­vices to var­i­ous ad­dresses he used on both sides of the Bor­der. And he had paid for them, on the dark­net, with Siob­han’s credit card.

The raid un­cov­ered what the Garda’s spe­cial de­tec­tive unit be­lieved were com­po­nents for bomb mak­ing and two re- pur­posed firearms, which he was sell­ing to re- pub­li­cans and crime gangs – a loaded Glock semi-au­to­matic pis­tol and over 300 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion were found in his car after his death.

Fol­low­ing the Jan­uary raid he was charged with mem­ber­ship of the IRA at the Spe­cial Crim­i­nal Court. Once charged, Mackin was re­manded in cus­tody to Port­laoise Prison.

He was ini­tially placed in E Block with repub­li­can pris­on­ers. When they re­jected him he was moved to A Block where non-po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers are housed. (After he died, dis­si­dent repub­li­cans Óglaigh Na hÉire­ann dis­tanced them­selves from Mackin, de­scrib­ing him as a “Wal­ter Mitty char­ac­ter and likely in­former”.)

It was widely re­ported that he had spent as lit­tle as 10 days in Port­laoise but in­formed sources have told The Ir­ish Times he was there seven weeks be­fore se­cur­ing bail. Mackin’s mother sent ¤5,000 from Aus­tralia, and his half-sis­ter Sinead Hynes went in­de­pen­dent surety – agree­ing to pay a sum of money if he did not ap­pear in court.

The af­fairs

The chil­dren had now gone to live with their grand­fa­ther and his wife Norma in Newry. Their mother could see them for only one hour each week at a so­cial ser­vices cen­tre in Newry in a su­per­vised visit. Mackin could do the same; but for one hour each fort­night.

Now liv­ing to­gether with­out the chil­dren in Omeath, Philips re­sumed her hair­dress­ing course. But the level of con­tact with her fam­ily plum­meted. Mackin – a con­trol­ling force – was ma­nip­u­lat­ing and iso­lat­ing her to have to­tal con­trol over her in the first half of 2015.

She would com­mu­ni­cate only in­fre­quently with her mother; mostly texts, of­ten of a sin­gle word, to ar­range to col­lect post. She had been es­tranged from her fa­ther for some years.

When Mackin came out of prison in early 2015 he be­came fix­ated on his belief, later con­firmed, that Philips had been un­faith­ful to him while he was inside.

Hynes has told gar­daí that, in the later part of the sum­mer, just as so­cial ser­vices be­gan sug­gest­ing that Mackin ap­peared to pose no risk to the chil­dren, he con­fronted Philips about see­ing other men while he had been in jail.

He had asked an as­so­ci­ate to hack into Philips’s Face­book ac­count via the dark­net and had dis­cov­ered mes­sages of a sex­ual na­ture she had sent to sev­eral men. Hynes tried to calm the sit­u­a­tion; to me­di­ate be­tween Mackin and Philips so they would re­main a cou­ple and get more ac­cess to their chil­dren.

But Hynes was hor­ri­fied to learn of the com­pro­mise of sorts that the cou­ple reached. “Cre­van told me in front of Siob­han that he was go­ing to get re­venge on Siob­han by sleep­ing with girls,” she told

gar­daí in a state­ment after the shoot­ing.

“He told me that he was go­ing to have un­pro­tected sex with th­ese girls, just like Siob­han did. If he ac­quired any sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions as a re­sult, th­ese would b e passed to Siob­han, he said.

“He said Siob­han was go­ing to have to grin and bear it. I asked Siob­han how she felt about this plan of Cre­van’s. She seemed to think that this was what Cre­van needed to do to for­give her and get over the is­sue. I told them that they were crazy to think this would solve things.”

Philips later con­fided in Hynes that Mackin was reg­u­larly “bat­ter­ing” her when he lost his tem­per. “She showed me her an­kle. I could see a large yel­low bruise. She told me that Cre­van put a gun to her an­kle, caus­ing the bruis­ing.

“I ad­vised Siob­han to take her­self out of that sit­u­a­tion and move out. Clearly, she didn’t.”

Hynes be­lieves her half- brother was deeply af­fected by ru­mours he was a pae­dophile. Th­ese were raised with him by the women Mackin was try­ing to have sex with to pun­ish Siob­han. In a mark of their dys­func­tion, Mackin even com­plained to Siob­han that her fam­ily were spread­ing the ru­mours, and that it was af­fect­ing his ef­forts to have af­fairs.

“For all his faults he had a sweet side and was lov­ing to me,” Hynes told gar­daí of her half-brother after he had mur­dered Golden and then killed him­self.

“With the Asperger’s, the ADHA, his fam­ily go­ing to Aus­tralia with­out him, ba­si­cally aban­don­ing him; then the whole thing with kids, so­cial ser­vices, the IRA mem­ber­ship charge, then Siob­han cheat­ing on him – the ru­mours about him be­ing a pae­dophile prob­a­bly took its toll on Cre­van in the end.”

The in­quest

This week in a Dun­dalk court­house be­gan the le­gal fall-out; the blame game that of­ten fol­lows loss and acts of such ex­treme vi­o­lence.

The oc­ca­sion may have been the in­quest into Garda Golden’s killing, but the hear­ing was about much more than sim­ply de­ter­min­ing the cause of his death. Two and a half years of claims of cover-up and Garda neg­li­gence were put to the test for the first time.

And with Mackin’s in­quest and civil cases from the Philips fam­ily still to come and two in­quiries by Garda Síochána Om­buds­man Com­mis­sion un­der way, the blame game is far from over.

The om­buds­man is try­ing to de­ter­mine why and how Mackin se­cured bail when he was charged in Jan­uary, 2015 with mem­ber­ship of the IRA.

His so­lic­i­tor Paul Tier­nan has claimed Mackin told him he had been sent to the po­lit­i­cal wing of Port­laoise prison to “spy” on the Real IRA. But he was not al­lowed on the wing by other dis­si­dent repub­li­cans. This led to the de­ci­sion to free him on bail, he said Mackin had claimed.

Among the other unan­swered ques­tions are whether Mackin was a Garda in­former and, if so, if that had any bear­ing on how the gar­daí han­dled com­plaints of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence made against him in the 24 hour pe­riod be­fore the shoot­ing.

The in­quiries also need to ad­dress the level of in­for­ma­tion about Mackin that was avail­able to front­line gar­dai via the Garda’s Pulse data­base – es­pe­cially in­tel­li­gence that may have warned un­armed gar­daí of his volatil­ity and his his­tory with firearms.

In­former?

The Philips fam­ily – es­pe­cially Siob­han’s fa­ther Seán – be­lieves Mackin was a Garda in­former. Seán Philips has re­peat­edly claimed that Mackin’s sta­tus as an in­former af­forded him spe­cial pro­tec­tion from the law.

After the beat­ing that be­gan in her home on the night of Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 9th, Siob­han Philips caught the bus as usual the next morn­ing from Omeath to Newry to go to work in the hair­dress­ing salon.

But at around 2pm that day she con­tact- ed her fa­ther’s wife, Norma Philips. De­spite hav­ing been es­tranged from her fa­ther and Norma for years, Siob­han Philips now des­per­ately needed their help.

The then 21-year-old mother of two ex­plained she had been at­tacked by Mackin through the pre­vi­ous night and had fi­nally de­cided to leave him.

Norma col­lected her from the hair salon in Newry to Dun­dalk Garda sta­tion to make a state­ment, though no state­ment was taken. Seán and Norma Philips then brought Siob­han to Daisy Hill Hospi­tal in Newry for treat­ment for her as­sault in­juries.

They were in­ter­viewed by the PSNI there. They have said they be­lieved the PSNI of­fi­cers took their com­plaints more se­ri­ously; though they did not give the PSNI a state­ment. While Siob­han Philips was un­der­go­ing treat­ment for her in­juries from the night-long beat­ing, a scan re­vealed she was preg­nant.

It was close to mid­night when they left the hospi­tal. They de­cided – out of fear of Mackin – to go to Omeath Garda sta­tion where Siob­han could give a state­ment. When they found it closed they set out for nearby Car­ling­ford Garda sta­tion.

On the way there they met a pa­trol car and flagged it down. They ex­plained their sit­u­a­tion to the gar­daí in the car and said they wanted to make a state­ment.

The gar­daí said they were the only per­son­nel pa­trolling a wide area and they could not take a state­ment while de­ployed on pa­trol du­ties.

Seán Philips said he and his wife were by now ex­as­per­ated with the Garda. They ur­gently wanted a state­ment taken be­cause they be­lieved – mis­tak­enly, as it turned out - Mackin’s bail re­lat­ing to his IRA mem­ber­ship charge would im­me­di­ately be re­voked be­cause of his as­sault on Siob­han Philips and his threats to kill her and her fam­ily.

They be­lieved he would be ar­rested and re­turned to Port­laoise Prison and that Siob­han and the ex­tended fam­ily would be safe from Mackin – for a time at least.

The state­ment

On the af­ter­noon of the fol­low­ing day – Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 11th – they met Garda Tony Golden in Omeath sta­tion and a state­ment was taken.

It read: “On Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 9th we were sit­ting (at home). The TV was on. He was quiet. I asked him what he was think­ing about. He was say­ing ‘about how much of a tramp you are’, ‘how cold you are to me’, ‘how you didn’t care about me when I was inside’. He would sit back qui­etly think­ing and would have said ‘ how much that he was think­ing about go­ing over to hit you’.

“Even­tu­ally around 8pm Cre­van came over to my sofa . . . He would have hit me about the head four or five times.

“After hit­ting me he would have calmed down after get­ting the vi­o­lence out of his sys­tem. But then by talk­ing to him­self he would work him­self up again and come over and hit me again. This would have hap­pened five times in to­tal.

“On the fifth time he went into the kitchen and got a steak knife. He cut my left wrist and my right thigh just above the knee. I was ly­ing on the sofa, he had me pinned down.

“He was over me with the knife in his hand. He cut my right thigh through my track­suit bottoms. I said to him ‘what about the kids’ and this calmed him down.

“Ev­ery time I got back up he said ‘sit the f**k down’. Even­tu­ally I con­vinced him to go to bed . . .

“I must have dozed off be­cause the next thing I re­mem­ber is be­ing kicked to the head . . .

“Cre­van Mackin pinned me to the wall and kneed me to my ribs. He grabbed me by the throat and squeezed my wind­pipe . . .

“I want gar­daí to in­ves­ti­gate the as­saults and threats against me by Cre­van Mackin.”

Garda ac­tions

Even then, Garda Golden said he could not ar­rest Mackin on the spot and re­voke his bail. He said there was no such power avail­able to him un­der the Ir­ish crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

In­stead, he needed to make fur­ther in­quiries, with wit­nesses Siob­han Philips men­tioned in her state­ment. After that, court ap­proval would be re­quired be­fore bail could be re­voked.

So­lic­i­tor James McGuill, for Garda Golden’s wife Ni­cola, told last Mon­day’s in­quest the man­ner in which the gar­daí dealt with the Philips fam­ily dur­ing their ef­forts to have a state­ment taken from Siob­han, was nei­ther un­usual nor un­pro­fes­sional.

The is­sue of whether Mackin was a Garda in­former was not di­rectly ad­dressed at the in­quest. But McGuill said even if he was an in­former, that in­for­ma­tion would not have been avail­able to the front­line gar­daí the fam­ily en­coun­tered as they tried to have a state­ment taken from Siob­han.

Garda An­thony Quane had dealt with the fam­ily at the pub­lic of­fice in Dun­dalk Garda sta­tion the day be­fore the shoot­ing. He was the per­son they met dur­ing their first ef­fort to have a state­ment taken from Siob­han.

The in­quest was told that the Philips fam­ily had re­peat­edly sug­gested a Garda com­puter was con­sulted in Dun­dalk and once it be­came clear who Mackin was – they say an in­former – no state­ment was taken from them.

“As soon as we men­tioned Cre­van Mackin ev­ery­thing shut down,” Seán Philips told

The Ir­ish Times last year. Garda Quane gave ev­i­dence to Mon­day’s in­quest and con­firmed Siob­han Philips and her fam­ily had out­lined the at­tack on her by Mackin the pre­vi­ous night.

But he said he was duty bound to ad­vise her she must seek med­i­cal treat­ment for her in­juries first. And only after be­ing treated could she give a state­ment.

Had she given a state­ment while in­jured and with­out hav­ing been ex­am­ined and treated, the de­tail and re­li­a­bil­ity of that state­ment could be ques­tioned at a later date, he said.

As well as ad­vis­ing her to go to hospi­tal, he told her not to go back to the house in Omeath where Mackin was. He also ad­vised her not to see Mackin, and he checked she had a safe place to stay – with her fa­ther north of the Bor­der.

Garda Quane also de­tailed all of her op­tions on both sides of the Bor­der re­lat­ing to bar­ring, safety and pro­tec­tion orders.

He then con­tacted Golden, who was off duty and at home at the time. He reached Golden by tele­phone and made an ap­point­ment for him to take a state­ment from Siob­han Philips the fol­low­ing day in Omeath sta­tion.

McGuill put it to Seán Philips that at the ini­tial point of con­tact with the gar­daí, in Dun­dalk, full se­cu­rity ad­vice had been is­sued and an ap­point­ment made, and ul­ti­mately kept, for a state­ment to be taken the next day.

He also put it to Seán Philips that when the state­ment was taken from Siob­han it took sev­eral hours. And he sug­gested to Seán Philips that the length of time it had taken demon­strated why an ap­point­ment had to be made. It also showed, he said, why the gar­dai in the pa­trol car could not have taken the state­ment the pre­vi­ous night.

McGuill also pointed out that when Seán Philips be­came aware in Septem­ber, 2015, that Mackin was beat­ing Siob­han he had gone to the gar­daí. A Garda mem­ber had then ac­com­pa­nied Seán Philips to the house Siob­han shared with Mackin in Omeath, to see if she would make a for­mal state­ment of com­plaint against him.

But she had re­fused to do so; a not un­com­mon fea­ture of do­mes­tic abuse cases where women live in fear.

McGuill said the ac­tions of the gar­daí on that oc­ca­sion were in­com­pat­i­ble with the al­le­ga­tion be­ing put for­ward by the Philips fam­ily; that gar­daí knew Mackin was an in­former and they must pro­tect him from ar­rest.

The guns

McGuill was adamant about one thing; Siob­han Philips should have in­formed every­one that Mackin had ac­cess to guns. But she chose not to; not even when Garda Golden fin­ished tak­ing her state­ment and said he would go with her to the house where Mackin was, so she could col­lect her be­long­ings and leave him.

And so Garda Golden, who was un­armed and try­ing to help her, went with her to the house on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

McGuill raised sev­eral times what he said was the dis­hon­esty of Siob­han Philips in not shar­ing the knowl­edge she had about Mackin hav­ing ac­cess to guns. He found sup­port, of a kind, for his re­marks from an un­likely quar­ter; her fa­ther and her step mother.

Norma Philips said she was al­ways un­easy about be­com­ing kin­ship fos­ter car­ers for Siob­han’s and Mackin’s chil­dren. And she would not have taken them into her home to share it with her own two chil­dren, aged 10 and 7 years at the time, had she known Mackin had ac­cess to guns.

She now felt naive they hadn’t pressed for more in­for­ma­tion when agree­ing to “take in Mackin’s kids”.

“I am sick to my stom­ach that the lives of my own chil­dren were put at risk be­cause of this mon­ster,” she said.

Seán Philips, who was wait­ing out­side the house when the tre­ble shoot­ing took place inside, said had he known Cre­van Mackin had ac­cess to guns he would have shared the in­for­ma­tion with gar­dai. And he would have in­sisted nei­ther Garda Golden nor Siob­han go to the house.

“I had no way of know­ing this guy had weapons; I would have told the guards from the top of my voice. I never would have taken my­self to that house or asked any­one else to go. I mean, this guy was a mon­ster.”

“But,” said Philips, “I want the truth and no­body should be afraid of the truth.”

He was over me with the knife in his hand. He cut my right thigh through my track­suit bottoms. I said to him ‘what about the kids’

Adrian Cre­van Mackin who, in 2015, shot dead Garda Tony Golden and se­ri­ously in­jured Mackin’s for­mer part­ner Siob­han Phillips be­fore tak­ing his own life. Left: Golden with his wife Ni­cola Golden and their three chil­dren

PHO­TO­GRAPH: CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS, COLIN KEE­GAN, COLLINS, DARA MAC DÓNAILL

Clock­wise from above: Garda Tony Golden’s cof­fin is taken into St Oliver Plun­kett Church, Black­rock near Dun­dalk; Siob­han Philips’s fa­ther Sean and his wife Norma Phillips at the in­quest into Golden’s death; and the Mul­lach Alainn es­tate in Omeath, Co...

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