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Murdered Garda officer Tony Golden, the women he died to protect and her killer partner

Published 13/10/2015

Tony Golden
Tony Golden

The officer: Quiet and well respected

Father-of-Three Tony Golden was described by a senior Garda colleague last night as a quiet and unassuming officer, who carried out his work diligently.

"Tony was a gentle man, who performed his duties without any fuss and simply got on with the job," he recalled.

"He was respected and well-liked by his colleagues and also in the communities in Omeath, where he served, and in Blackrock, near Dundalk, where he lived with his wife Nicola and three children, all under eight years," the officer added.

Gardai said he had been based in Omeath station with three other colleagues, including a sergeant, for almost seven years and had spent the other four years of his career stationed at Cabinteely in south Dublin.

His wife Nicola, a nurse from nearby Blackrock, and the family are said to be an integral part of the community in the Co Louth area. The 36-year-old garda was also involved in charity work and was one of the organisers locally of the annual Movember fund-raising activities to combat prostate and testicular cancer as well as poor mental health in men.

Another senior officer, Supt Gerry Curley, who is in charge of the Dundalk district, said Tony was meticulous in the way he went about his work. He said the officer was a credit to An Garda Siochana and his death would be "a major loss to us all".

He was originally from Culleens, Killala Road in Ballina, Co Mayo, where his parents David and Brid still live in the rural community.

The garda was one of six children and was educated at Culleens National School and St Muredach's College in Ballina. The sports fan excelled at Gaelic football and hurling, playing for the Ballina Stephenites club.

Chairman John Healy said the entire club was devastated at his sudden death. He said they would work with the Golden family and hold a tribute for the late club member.

Family friend, Cllr Gerry Ginty, Cathaoirleach of Ballina Municipal District, said the community was in shock. "They are a lovely family who were sports-mad. Tony was a quiet fella and such a nice young guy. It's hard to believe that he died like this when just doing his job.

"The whole family were a great GAA family and Tony was just the same. He was a great hurler. We are all just devastated for the family, especially his wife and children, his parents and his brothers and sister."

The killer: Dissident suspect who was out on bail

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The dissident terrorist who murdered Garda Tony Golden had been caught with component parts for pipe bombs in his house when it was raided by gardai last January.

Adrian Crevan Mackin (24) was well known to the Garda and the PSNI as a suspected member of the breakaway renegade faction styling themselves Oglaigh na hEireann.

The group was formed by a former associate of jailed terrorist Michael McKevitt after a split in the Real IRA, which they had both founded.

Mackin had regularly been monitored by the gardai and the PSNI over the past few years.

His home at Mullach Alainn, in Omeath, Co Louth, was raided by anti-terrorist gardai in January as part of a cross-border police investigation into the activities of the dissident group in the Dundalk/Newry area.

During a search, officers found and seized component parts for several pipe bombs. The DPP ruled there was insufficient evidence to bring a charge of possession of explosives.

Instead, Mackin was charged with membership of an illegal organisation. His case was to come before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin again this month.

Mackin, who is originally from Rostrevor, Co Down, but who also had an address in Newry, was charged with membership of an unlawful organisation, styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, on January 16. He was remanded in custody by the three-judge court for four days before a successful bail application.

The State did not object to bail but counsel sought and was granted stringent conditions, including that he sign on regularly at his local Garda station. He knew Garda Tony Golden, who was one of a party of four based at the station.

Suspected dissidents on membership charges are often granted bail unless gardai can prove that the suspect is a flight risk or likely to commit another offence, if granted bail.

Mackin had come to police notice during several probes north and south of the border in recent years. He was a suspect for an armed robbery in Newry around the time that Det Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead outside a credit union at Lordship, near Dundalk, in January 2013.

Mackin was described by one garda officer, who investigated him in the past as "like a loose cannon".

In 2012 he was charged with possession of 23 "extreme pornographic images" including photographs of women having sex with animals.

The partner: Dedicated mother of two and student

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The young woman left fighting for her life in hospital after the horrific gun attack is described as a dedicated mother of two young children.

Siobhan Phillips is an aspiring hairdresser who recently began a training course in Newry, Co Down. The 22-year-old was said to be dedicated to her son (3) and a one-year-old daughter.

Ms Phillips grew up in the Newry area but spent much of her childhood years in Omeath, Co Louth, where her mother hails from.

“Siobhan spent a lot of time with her granny over the years, but the father is from the north. You’d see them around the granny’s all the time,” said a family friend. Her extended family — the Wards — are farmers and well-known and respected in the area.

Her grandmother, who is in her 80s, is particularly close to Ms Phillips and her siblings.

“She would be particularly close to Siobhan because she had so much to do with her upbringing,” he added. “They are great people.”

Siobhan attended the Southern Regional College and the Bush post primary school in Dundalk, Co Louth.

Neighbours said she dated Adrian Crevan Mackin — who shot her and Garda Tony Golden before turning the gun on himself — since her late teens. She was savagely assaulted by him two nights before the attack.

Her grandfather John Philips said: “All we can do now is hope.”

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