By Cillian Sherlock, PA
The brother of murdered Garda Colm Horkan has said he was “the best of us” after the Central Criminal Court found a man guilty of his murder.
Stephen Silver was found guilty of the capital murder of Garda Horkan after shooting him with the garda’s own gun in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, in June 2020.
Speaking outside the Central Criminal Court, Garda Horkan’s brother Brendan said the verdict gave the family a measure of closure.
“Colm was the best of us, a gentleman through and through – he deserved this verdict today,” he said.
He thanked all those involved in securing justice.
“We were horrified and shocked to the core to learn of the circumstances which led to Colm’s death as he went about his job policing the streets and keeping the general public protected and safe at all times.”
He added: “Colm was a fantastic son, brother, uncle and friend, and his memory remains etched in our minds every minute of every day and today’s verdict, while giving us some closure, will never replace the man who was the glue in our family that bonded all together. We love him dearly.”
Commenting on the verdict, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said “today is a sombre day”.
He said when Garda Horkan went to work in Castlerea Garda Station on June 17th, 2020, “it was a routine day’s work for Colm”.
“Colm was murdered on duty and never came home to his family,” he said.
“Colm’s death reinforces to every member of An Garda Siochana the reality of the dangers and the uncertainty of the work that we face every day,” he added.
Commissioner Harris paid tribute to the Garda investigation team in Castlerea Garda Station, supported by the wider Garda organisation, that “professionally investigated all the circumstances of Colm’s murder”.
“Finally, today we stand with and support Colm’s father Marty, his siblings, wider family and friends, and we remember his mother Dolores and twin sister Colette,” he said.
“Today, as every day, we remember our colleague Colm who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the local community he served so well. He will always be remembered as the kind, caring man, and professional and empathetic Garda that he was,” he added.
Minister for Justice Simon Harris said his thoughts were with the family and friends of Detective Garda Colm Horkan as well as his Garda colleagues.
“Colm’s murder in June 2020 shocked us all,” he said.
“It stole from his family and friends a beloved, kind and gentle man who served with duty and distinction, keeping his community safe and serving the State.
“The Colm his family and friends knew and loved so much became a personal loss for the whole country.
“A proud Mayo and GAA man; loved and respected in his community and by his colleagues; steadfast in his duties and professional and wholehearted in doing the job he loved as a Garda.
“His murder again reminded us of the risks the brave men and women of An Garda Siochana take every day to protect our communities, and the burden all Garda families carry in supporting them.
“We also remember the 88 other Gardai who have lost their lives in the line of duty and their families today.
“Detective Garda Horkan exemplified the courage and dedication of An Garda Síochána, and I hope his family, friends and colleagues can take some comfort in justice being done today.”
Silver, of Aughavard, Foxford, Co Mayo, was found guilty by the jury at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.
The 46-year-old had denied murdering Mr Horkan knowing or being reckless as to whether he was a member of An Garda Síochána acting in accordance with his duty, but had pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Silver shot Mr Horkan several times with the garda’s own gun.
Members of Mr Horkan’s family said they were “relieved” with the verdict.
Ms Justice Tara Burns told the jury of seven men and five women they had “listened to every single piece of evidence diligently and carefully” over the six-week trial.
She said it is not often there is a case of this nature, and she was extremely thankful to them.
She said it was clear they understood “absolutely everything” that was directed to them.
They were exempted from jury service for the rest of their lives.
The jury at the Central Criminal Court deliberated for eight hours and 59 minutes.
Silver was returned to custody ahead of the sentencing hearing which will begin on Wednesday, April 19th.