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Stephen Silver PA

Garda tells murder trial of attempts to perform CPR on Garda Colm Horkan after shooting

Garda Helen Gillen recounted how she saw two men “grappling” before one stumbled backwards after being been shot.

A GARDA HAS told a murder trial how she tried to perform CPR on her colleague Garda Colm Horkan after he was shot several times with his own gun.

Garda Helen Gillen recounted how she saw two men “grappling” before one stumbled backwards and she witnessed a man fire several shots into Gda Horkan as he lay on the ground .

The garda said she and colleague Aidan Fallon were initially unaware that the man who had been shot was their colleague. She became emotional as she relayed how it was only when Gda Fallon went to attend to the man and pulled him over that they realised it was Gda Horkan who had been shot.

Stephen Silver (46), a motorbike mechanic from Aughavard, Foxford, Co Mayo has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Garda Colm Horkan (49) knowing or being reckless as to whether he was a member of An Garda Siochana acting in accordance with his duty at Castlerea, Co Roscommon on 17 June 2020.

He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Garda Gillen told prosecuting counsel Michael Delaney SC she was on duty on the night of 17 June 2020 when a call was received about a bike being driven dangerously in the Knockroe estate in Castlerea.

She said she and her colleague Garda Fallon went to the estate but everything appeared quiet and they left a short time later. As they travelled past the junction of Main Street and Patrick Street Gda Gillen said she noticed two people on Main Street who appeared to be “grappling” with each other in a doorway.

The two men were “holding on to each other” and moving as the garda car passed by, she said, so they couldn’t see their faces and there was a car parked in just beyond where this was happening.

Garda Gillen said they slowed down and then stopped the car and she heard what she thought was a number of shots. “ I realised it possibly was gunshots so I got on to control and made an urgent call to Castlerea.”

Shots fired

Garda Fallon manoeuvred the car to block the road and as she looked back the garda said she could see a man “stagger back”.

She said the man “stumbled back like he was tripping” and then fell down. The garda said she couldn’t see the man’s head and his back was to her.

Another man then came over walking “with purpose” and “shot the person on the ground a number of times”.

“I don’t know how many times he shot but I realised he couldn’t shoot anymore because there wasn’t anything left in the gun,” she said.

Her colleague, Garda Fallon said: “He’s killed a man, He’s killed a man”.

“Then I got out of the car. Aidan was shouting at me to come back but I walked up the road. I was wearing my stab vest and utility belt.”

In response to a question from Delaney, the garda said she wasn’t armed but did have pepper spray and handcuffs.

She continued: “As I was walking up, I remember this man looking up and I remember hearing something being thrown. I realised afterwards that that was the gun being thrown away.”

Garda Gillen said the man was waving his arms and saying something, but she couldn’t recall what he had said.

She said the man was “bouncing from foot to foot” but calmed down as they approached.

“I was telling him to get down on the ground”. The garda said the man got down on the ground but then got back up again.

She said Gda Fallon then “pulled over the man” and “that’s when Aidan had said it was Colm that was shot” and noticed the empty holster on the left side of his trousers.

“Aidan said: ‘You shot him, you shot him. You killed a garda’.

She said the man then said no, it was his [Garda Horkan’s] gun and he added “with all that’s going on in the world with the police”.

Gda Gillen said she then asked the man what his name was and he said Stephen Silver.

She said she could see the gun at the front passenger wheel of the car and it was extended out as if there was no cartridges in it. She said she cautioned Mr Silver and put handcuffs on him before going to attend to Gda Horkan.


She said she thought she could feel a slight pulse and commenced CPR while they waited for backup to arrive.

Garda Gillen said she carried out compressions and requested that a defibrillator be brought down.

The garda said she continued doing CPR until assistance arrived.

In his evidence to the jury earlier today eyewitness James Coyne, who was with Silver on the night Gda Horkan was killed, told the Central Criminal court that he tried to keep the accused away from gardaí and wanted to “avoid trouble” and “protect the guards”.

Coyne told prosecution counsel James Dwyer SC that Stephen Silver came to his home in Knockroe on the afternoon of 17 June 2020.

He said he hadn’t seen Silver in a long time but they got talking and the accused asked Coyne to go with him to his bike shop in Foxford where Silver gave him a motorcycle.

Coyne said the pair travelled to Foxford in Silver’s van, stopping on the way at Castlerea Garda Station.

He said the accused went into the garda station but was “only in there a second”. “I stayed in the van. I don’t know what he said. He just went in, came out didn’t say much about it. Then we went down to Foxford.”

Coyne said the pair then went to Silver’s garage in Foxford where he tried out a 750cc Ninja motorbike.

“He said ‘you’re a natural, you can have it,” Coyne told prosecuting counsel. “I thought it was a bit mad. They’re the best bikes in the world.” Coyne said he had the logbook signed that night.

The pair then went back to his house in Castlerea with the bike in the back of the van where they took the bike out and “took turns” on it in the estate.

“I was just excited about getting a 750 Ninja,” he said. “I did the drive just up the road and back. I wanted to get the feel of the bike that was given to me.

“Stephen did a burnout, I wouldn’t try that at all. He had the experience but I wouldn’t have the experience to do it. It’s risky. He nearly came off it himself,” he told Dwyer.

The pair then put the bike away and walked towards town to get some food.

Coyne said on the way Silver wanted to go by the garda station, but he wanted to go a different route because he didn’t want Silver to go into the station again. “I decided to go the new road to avoid trouble,” he told prosecuting counsel. “I was trying to save the guards. I had a feeling if we went by the garda station again he was going to go in again. I was trying to protect the guards.”

The pair walked up the new road past the church and, Coyne said, as they were standing at Delaney’s Corner a car pulled up with guard he recognised in the driver seat.

The passenger window was down and the accused said something in the window. Coyne said he couldn’t hear exactly what Silver said because his head was in the window but the garda then got out of the car.

Attempted arrest

“He said hello to me then and he said to Stephen “you’re under arrest”. The witness said the incident then “turned into a fight” between Stephen Silver and the guard.

He said the next thing he remembered was the guard “going down” and his wallet falling out of his pocket. The garda and Silver were at the front window of the premises and he was at the side door, Coyne said.

“There was no shelter and the gun was going off. I thought I heard four or five shots. I thought I saw smoke but I didn’t know if it was bangers or what.”

Asked by Dwyer if he intervened, Coyne said: “I told gardaí I tried to push Stephen off the garda but I’m not sure. I just stood there. Stupid. He could have killed me.”

He said he then went home going back the same way he came.

The trial also heard evidence from local resident Paul McGarry who told of the moment he heard “two bangs” that sounded “like gunshots” on the night the garda was killed. 

The trial continues tomorrow  before Ms Justice Tara Burns and the jury of seven men and five women.