NEWS

Inquest into death of Derry man in Donegal returns unlawful killing verdict

Gardaí issue appeal for assistance with investigation

Catherine McGinty

Reporter:

Catherine McGinty

Email:

editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

Andrew Allen 2

Andrew Allen was murdered in Donegal in 2012

The inquest of Derry man Andrew Allen has recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

Mr Allen (24) was shot dead on February 9, 2012, at Links View just outside the Inishowen town, where he shared the home with his partner, Arlene Farrelly. His killing was later claimed by the so-called Republican Action Against Drugs group.

In a unanimous verdict, the jury of five men and two women, found Mr Allen's death had been as a result of unlawful killing and the cause of death was a “gunshot to the chest.” 

Opening the inquest in Buncrana Court House, Donegal Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said it was an “important day” for Mr Allen's family and it would be the first time they heard some of the evidence in the case. 

Mr Allen's sister, Michelle and her husband Seamus, his brother, Daniel and his uncle William were present in court for the proceedings.

Garda Inspector David Durkin read the deposition of Ms Arlene Farrelly, who could not be “located”, to the court. 

Ms Farrelly, a care worker originally from Derry, said she had met Mr Allen through mutual friends in February 2010.

Ms Farrelly said in her deposition to the Coroners Court that eight months before his death, an envelope had arrived at the Gobnascale Family Centre, in Derry's Waterside, containing a bullet and a list of six names and Mr Allen's name was included on that list.

Ms Farrelly said Mr Allen's mother (Donna Smith) thought the threat related to anti-social behaviour. The PSNI had not had an address for Mr Allen, so they contacted his mother, who gave the warning to Ms Farrelly, who then passed it on to Mr Allen. 

Ms Farrelly said the families of the young men on the list arranged a meeting to try and sort out the situation. She had not been involved in the meeting but a couple of weeks later she heard Mr Allen was off the list, everything was sorted and Mr Allen was able to go back to Derry.

On the night of Mr Allen's death, Ms Farrelly said they had been watching TV in their bedroom at around 9.00pm. Mr Allen had then gone online to play video games with his young nephew.

Ms Farrelly said she then heard loud bangs at the front door as if someone was “booting it hard.” She then looked out the left-hand-side bay window and saw a car with its engine running outside. 

She then saw a person, standing about 5'8'', with a black baseball cap and clothing and the barrel of a gun, which, she said, was not as small as a handgun. When the man pointed the gun at the door, Ms Farrelly shouted to Mr Allen to phone the Garda.

Mr Allen had jumped out of bed and Ms Farrelly heard shots being fired through the bedroom window. Mr Allen then fell to the floor and roared to her that he could not feel his legs. 

Ms Farrelly then dialled 999 as Mr Allen attempted to pull himself out of the bedroom. She said, she was holding his head as he was “choking and could not get a breath.” Ms Farrelly said she was unable to get Mr Allen unto his back, as she was being instructed to do by the emergency services on the phone, as he was too heavy.

Ms Farrelly then performed CPR on Mr Allen before she realised he was dead.

Ms Farrelly said she and Mr Allen got on well with everybody.

Mr Danny McGonagle, a neighbour of Ms Farrelly and Mr Allen, who rendered assistance on the night, was present in court.

In his deposition, Mr McGonagle said he had been in his home and had heard three or four gunshots. When he came outside, he noticed a silver-grey hatchback driving out of the estate. Mr McGonagle said he had noticed the same car in the housing estate a week before Mr Allen's death.

Mr McGonagle attempted to turn Mr Allen, who was turning blue, onto his back, with the assistance of another neighbour, Billy Sweeney. However, when the Gardaí arrived, Mr McGonagle said Mr Allen was, “ as dead as a dodo.”

Sergeant John Gallagher, who was based in Buncrana Garda Station at the time of Mr Allen's Death, told the inquest, Garda Úna Cunningham had been tasked to Mr Allen's home at 9.30pm.

They had spoken to Ms Farrelly, who was in a “distressed state” and when she had been taken from the house, they secured the house in order to preserve the crime scene.  

Dr Stephen McNally pronounced Mr Allen dead at 10.34pm. 

Ms Farrelly had identified Mr Allen to Sergeant Gallagher and he subsequently identified him to State Pathologist, Dr Mr Marie Cassidy, who performed the postmortem.

Dr Cassidy found Mr Allen had died as a result of “gunshot wounds.” 

He had received three gunshots wounds, the first of which had caused his “rapid death.” The bullet entered Mr Allen's right shoulder and punctured his right lung, heart and diaphragm. He had been crouching when he was shot and had been moving.

At the conclusion of Mr Allen's Inquest, Coroner McCauley extended his condolences to the members of Mr Allen's family who were in court, as well as his wider family. 

He added that the inquest was “not the end of the actions” and he hoped “actions would take place, which would offer a source of satisfaction in the future.”

Dr McCauley also thanked the Jury and Mr McGonagle for his “efforts on the night.”

He then extended his thanks to the “investigating members for a thorough investigation.”

Garda Inspector David Durkin also extended his condolences to the Allen family. He said the inquest was “not the end of the matter” from the point of view of An Garda Síochána. 

The jury foreman then offered the jury's “profound sympathy” to the bereaved family.

The senior investigating officer in the Andrew Allen case described the investigation into the Derry man's murder as “ongoing.”

Speaking to the media outside Buncrana Court House Garda Detective Inspector Pat O'Donnell said: “We have arrested six people to date and other arrests are coming in the near future.”

The Letterkenny based Inspector said: “The investigation is still ongoing. It is a very active, live investigation. We have arrested six people to date and other arrests are coming in the near future. 

“Today we heard the gruesome details of how Andrew Allen died. It has been very difficult for the family.

“I am appealing now to people both in Donegal and the Buncrana area and in Derry City to come forward and assist us.

“It's been seven years since the murder. Over time circumstances change, relationships change. 

“We are asking people now who may have information to come forward and assist us. 

“They have been very good in the past assisting us but there is more information out there from people who are aware and have been aware all along. It maybe now is the time for them to come forward.” 

Detective O'Donnell added that the investigation into Mr Allen's death had been “difficult.”

He added: “Given the nature of the investigation, those whose involvement is suspected in the murder of Mr Allen and the cross-border nature of it, it is not going to be a very short investigation.

“It's on seven years at the moment. It will be a number of years yet before we bring it to a conclusion. 

“There are a number of arrests to take place and we are hopeful of a successful conclusion.”