Accused in Garda murder case ‘said something about Black Lives Matter’, court hears

Detective Garda Colm Horkan
The man accused of the murder of Detective Garda Colm Horkan in Castlerea ago told Gardai that “with all that’s going on with the police in this world, I shot him,” the Central Criminal Court heard this afternoon.

Opening the trial of Stephen Silver’s trial, senior counsel for the prosecution, Michael Delaney, said that the accused man then added something about Black Lives Matter,.

It may have been a reference to the killing of George Floyd in America some months previously, the prosecution said.

Mr Delaney said the jury might have to consider whether the accused was “ill-disposed towards gardai” at the time of the murder – and whether that “manifested itself in his actions during the day and, more importantly, in the course of the encounter with Garda Horkan”.

Det Garda Horkan was 49 years old and a serving member of the force for almost 26 years when he was shot dead at Castlerea, Co Roscommon just before midnight on June 17th, 2020.

Mr Silver has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Det Garda Horkan knowing or being reckless as to whether he was a member of An Garda Síochana acting in accordance with his duty.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Mr Silver (46) a motorbike mechanic from Aughavard, Foxford, Co Mayo, lived with his father in Charlestown. He had been married but had separated from his wife three months prior to the shooting of Det Garda Horkan.

The prosecuting counsel said that the accused has a history of mental health difficulties.

The court heard that in the afternoon before the shooting, Mr Silver had watched a video on Facebook of a garda raid on the home of a Mr James Coyne, an old friend of the accused.

Mr Silver became “quite exercised” and went to see Mr Coyne who lived nearby in Knockroe. Both men then went to the Garda station in Castlerea, where the accused told gardai he wanted to make a complaint “of an elderly person being abused by gardai”.

Mr Silver told gardai he had evidence on his phone and was “going to take it further”, the court heard.

The two men went to Mr Silver’s garage, and Mr Coyne and the accused took out a motorcycle and returned to Knockroe where they drove the motorbike without lights or helmets around a green area in the housing estate. Neighbours then called gardai and the court heard that said one neighbour will give evidence that he heard someone matching the description of the accused saying: “I dare the armed squad come down here now.”

Det Garda Horkan had driven to Knockroe on foot of the complaint shortly before midnight but the accused and Mr Coyne had gone to the centre of Castlerea to get food.

The Det Garda drove along Patrick Street in the town where he came upon the two men. He pulled up alongside them and wound down his passenger side window. Garda Horkan got out of the car, approached the accused and told him he was going to arrest him.

The court heard there was a “struggle for the firearm and a shot was discharged and Garda Horkan was wounded.”

“At that point the accused man rolled away with the gun and proceeded to repeatedly shoot Garda Horkan,” the prosecution barrister said.

Garda Helen Gillen will give evidence that she approached and saw Mr Silver throw away the gun. When she told him to lie down, he did, but he then got on his knees and said: “That man tried to attack me and with all that’s going on with the police in this world, I shot him.”

The court heard that he added something about Black Lives Matter which counsel said may have been a reference to the killing of George Floyd some months earlier.

Det Garda Horkan suffered massive internal bleeding and multiple fractures and died on the scene.

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