‘Unlawful killing’ verdict in Andrew Allen inquest

The partner of Derry man Andrew Allen desperately tried to save him after he was shot, an inquest into his death has heard.

Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 4:36 pm
Andrew Allen.

Mr Allen (24), was shot dead at 26, Links View Park, Buncrana on February 9, 2012.

To date, no-one has been charged in relation to his death.

The inquest was opened on Wednesday at Buncrana Courthouse by Donegal Coroner Dr Denis McCauley in front of a jury of five men and two women, who found he had died by unlawful killing.

Gardai officers pictured at the scene of the fatal shooting of Andrew Allen at Links View Park, Lisfannon in 2012. 1402JM06

A deposition from Mr Allen’s then partner Arlene Farrelly was read during the inquest by Garda Inspector David Durkin.

She told how she and Mr Allen, a father of two, had been watching the soaps on TV in their downstairs bedroom before he began playing with his nephew on a games console via a headset.

Ms Farrelly, a care worker from Derry, told how she heard a number of ‘big bangs’, jumped out of bed and pushed back the curtains to look out the bedroom window. She saw a man ‘booting’ the front door, as well as the tail lights of a car, with its engine running, which was reversed into the driveway. Ms Farrelly described the man at the door as around 5ft 8 in height, of skinny build and wearing a black baseball cap and dark clothes. She could see he was carrying a gun. She roared’ to Mr Allen: ‘There’s a man at the door with a gun’ and he told her to phone the Gardai. Ms Farrelly said she heard shots coming through the window. Mr Allen fell to the ground and ‘roared that he couldn’t feel his legs.’ Ms Farrelly told how he was ‘sliding,’ to try and get to the door and ‘blood was pumping out of him.’ She rang 999, and they advised her to turn him on his back, but he was too heavy for her to do so. Ms Farrelly said she was trying to hold Mr Allen’s head up and ‘it was like he was choking and couldn’t get a breath.’ She ran for help to a neighbour’s house, shouting: ‘Please help me, please help me.’ Mr Daniel McGonagle accompanied her to the house and helped Ms Farrelly turn Mr Allen on to his back. She then attempted CPR but said she knew Mr Allen was dead.

Ms Farrelly said Mr Allen was unemployed but would drive some friends around Derry and they’d ‘give him a few quid.’ She said he had recently returned to boxing in Derry and attended a gym. Ms Farrelly told how, eight months previously, Mr Allen’s name was one of six on a list of names sent in an envelope with a bullet to Gobnascale Family Centre. He was informed of this by the PSNI and Ms Farelly said she understood it was for anti-social behaviour - ‘lads driving around the streets mad.’ Following this, Mr Allen moved down to Buncrana to the house in Links View, which she was looking after for her sister - and ‘never left the house.’ She said some of the families of those threatened had a meeting with ‘some organisation,’ the name of which she didn’t know and Andrew’s family were trying to find out about it. Mr Allen then got a phonecall to say his ‘name was off the list and all was sorted.’ He began going back into Derry. Ms Farrelly said Mr Allen would ‘normally tell’ her if he had a row with someone and ‘got on well with everyone.’ She added that she knew he had been involved with drugs ‘ years ago’ but to her knowledge, ‘had no involvement while he was with’ her.

Mr McGonagle gave evidence that he saw a car reversing into the driveway as he went into his house. He then heard ‘three or four shots’ and saw the same car driving, not at speed but ‘fast,’ at the entrance to the roadway with its lights off. It was silver/grey in colour and a hatchback. Mr McGonagle said he thought he had previously seen the car over the previous week in the estate. Mr McGonagle rang 999 at 9.25pm and entered a neighbour’s house before Ms Farrelly started banging on the door, screaming for someone to help her. Mr McGonagle went to Ms Farrelly’s house and helped Ms Farrelly turn Mr Allen over. Another neighbour then arrived and Mr McGonagle told him: ‘I think he’d dead’ to which the neighbour agreed.

Garda Sergeant John Gallagher gave evidence that he and Gda Una Cunningham arrived on the scene following a call at 9.30pm. He entered the property and saw Mr Allen lying with the upper part of his body in the hallway and lower part in the bedroom. Sgt Gallagher preserved the scene and placed tape around the house. He also met Ms Fareelly, who was in a distressed state and requested NowDoc attend the scene. Emergency services, family members and more Gardai also arrived, as well as Dr Stephen McNally, who pronounced Mr Allen dead. The following day, Sgt Gallagher accompanied State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy to the mortuary, where she conducted a post mortem attended by members of the Garda Technical Bureau.

Detective Inspector Pat O’Donnell said he was appointed Senior Investigating Officer into the death of Mr Allen. He told the inquest the investigation is still ongoing and they have pursued ’100s of lines of enquiry’ and ‘100s of people made statements.’

Insp O’Donnell said that in his professional opinion, Mr Allen died as a result of an unlawful killing.

The findings of the post mortem were read into the inquest by Dr McCauley.

Dr Cassidy found that Mr Allen sustained three gunshot wounds, one of which caused ‘death rapidly.’

This entered his right shoulder, and went right to left across his body, through his right heart and lung, before lodging in his diaphragm.

The second entry point was at his hip. It then travelled across his body, right to left, causing an injury to his bowel. The bullet was found in his chest cavity.

The third point was at the anterior abdominal wall,travelling left to right, without causing any injuries.

Dr Cassidy suggested that Mr Allen was most likely in a ‘bent or crouched position’ when he was shot.

She concluded that Mr Allen died from a gunshot wound to his chest.

Dr McCauley asked the jury to decide if they agreed with the cause of death. He also asked them to consider two verdicts - unlawful killing or an open verdict.

The jury returned after a few minutes and confirmed they had unanimously agreed with the cause of death. They also found unanimously that Andrew Allen died by unlawful killing.

Dr McCauley, Inspector Durkin and the jury all expressed their sympathies to Mr Allen’s family, a number of whom attended the inquest. Insp Durkin said the investigation into his death remains ongoing and although the inquest had been heard, ‘it is not the end of the matter from An Garda Siochana’s point of view.’