Garda Colm Horkan 'shot himself' because he was 'an idiot with a firearm', court hears

In garda interviews which took place the day after the fatal shooting, Mr Silver said: “I was set up. Why would you want to shoot me? Why would you want to shoot a man going to f**king Apache Pizza.”
Garda Colm Horkan 'shot himself' because he was 'an idiot with a firearm', court hears

Fiona Magennis

Stephen Silver, who is on trial for capital murder, told detectives that Garda Colm Horkan “shot himself accidentally” because he was “an idiot with a firearm”, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The accused, whose state of mind at the time of the shooting is the main issue in the trial, also told gardaí: "P**k. Now he's dead and I'm alive and you're making a huge f**king deal about it."

In garda interviews which took place the day after the fatal shooting, Mr Silver said: “I was set up. Why would you want to shoot me? Why would you want to shoot a man going to f**king Apache Pizza.”

“The more I look at this, it looks like I was set up to be shot because why was this car on the scene so quick, within seconds. It all happened so quick, so they had to be close. There were cars all around, it was a set-up, an innocent man getting shot in his own f**king town.”

Later in the interview, Mr Silver added: “You guys forced me to do it by sending a guy up to shoot me. I like guns and arrows ye like guns and getting fat.”

Detective Inspector Brian Hanley also told prosecuting counsel Michael Delaney SC that at one point during the interview, Stephen Silver pretended to be asleep for a period of six to seven minutes while he and a colleague were questioning him.

He relayed how during the interview, Mr Silver asked to go to the bathroom and while the inspector waited for him to return, he heard a loud bang.

Toilet seat

When he went to see what the noise was, he met Mr Silver in the corridor who apologised and said he would pay for any damage.

The inspector said he asked his colleague what had happened, and the garda told him Mr Silver had broken the toilet seat.

Asked by Mr Delaney if he observed anything about Mr Silver’s clothing since the previous interview, Det Inspt Hanley said there was a rip down the centre of the accused’s T-shirt and a rip on his tracksuit bottoms also.

He said Mr Silver told them he had been off his medication since September. When asked how he had been since he had stopped taking it, he replied: “Grand, grand. 100 per cent."

Mr Silver (46), 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 June 17th, 2020.

He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and the jury have been told the main issue in the trial is Mr Silver's state of mind at the time of the shooting.

On Friday, the jury viewed footage of two garda interviews conducted with Mr Silver on June 18th, 2020 with Detective Inspector Hanley and Detective Inspector Patrick Farrell of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

In the first interview, Mr Silver said he had not slept in 30 hours.

He also told the two detectives: “I’ve had other incidents in garda stations. This is the easiest police situation I've been in. And I've shot a man. I've had worse things walking down the street. I’ve been battened. For nothing.”


Asked by the detectives to describe what happened in the struggle with Garda Horkan, Mr Silver said: “He grabbed me, a struggle ensued. Next thing he had it out. Next thing bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. He must have shot himself.”

Mr Silver also told detectives: “End result is one of your guys died. Accept it and move on. Self-defence, that’s all I used.

The accused also told the officers during his first interview on June 18th that he had previously handled a gun, adding: “I love them. I think they’re a fantastic piece of engineering.”

Mr Silver said he noticed when he had the gun in his hand, before he threw it away, that it was “not well-kept”. Asked if that meant he knew how they operated, Mr Silver confirmed that he did.

Asked about the struggle between himself and Garda Horkan, the accused said it took place on the ground. He said he hit Garda Horkan with “the back of the gun” but said the garda “would have shot the first couple of shots. He had the gun out. After that I don’t really remember the whole thing like. But it definitely wasn’t my gun.”

He said: “There was just too much stuff happening like in a short space of time.

"I remember that though vividly. Going for this thing and I felt the clasp going over the holster. Once I felt that I thought f**k. Once that was there, he could pull the gun. He pulled it out and we were struggling.”

Mr Delaney read from a memo of the second interview with Mr Silver that was taken at Castlerea Garda Station on the evening of June 18, 2020 and the jury subsequently viewed video footage of the same interview.

In it, Mr Silver confirmed to the detectives he did fire the gun but said he had only fired it “in the air”. The accused later said Garda Horkan has possession of the gun and was “fumbling” with it.

He added: “Prick. Now he’s dead, and I’m alive, and you’re making a huge f**king deal about it.”

Mr Silver said it was not fair that a man going to get a pizza from Apache Pizza was being “terrorised” when all he wanted was a “f**king pizza”.

Apache pizza

Asked why he didn’t walk away, Mr Silver said: “Because I would have been shot in the back”. Questioned further as to why he didn’t walk away once he got the gun, the accused replied: “Bang, bang, bang. I did that in case he got up.”

As the interview progressed, Mr Silver claimed he had not fired any shots, adding: “You f**king eejits are going around shooting people who are trying to go to Apache Pizza.”

The accused added: "He shot himself accidentally because he’s an idiot with a firearm. That’s the situation for me, looking at it. That's the first time I shot a firearm. You f**kers forced me to do it."

Mr Silver told the detectives he had defended himself against “an armed assailant”.

“If that’s my crime that's my crime. I defended myself against an armed assailant on my way to Apache Pizza. If I'm not allowed to do that, what am I allowed to do? I’m beyond annoyed,” he said.

“The end result is he’s dead, and I'm sorry about that, but it was his own gun."

“Did I shoot him? No but the end result was he got killed with his own gun. I did not want to shoot him but he attacked me, he got up close to me and attacked me. I was wondering why did he do that.”

Asked if he had killed Garda Horkan, Mr Silver said: “I did not kill him. He died at his own hand with his own gun. The bullets killed him, they were his own bullets. Ballistics will show that.

“The end result is he’s dead, and I'm sorry about that, but it was his own gun."

Mr Silver also told the two detectives: “He died, but it can’t be blamed on me because I was not the aggressor. I was a man walking with my friend to Apache Pizza."

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

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more