Unlawful killing verdict reached in Sligo murder inquest

A verdict of unlawful killing was reached at an inquest into the death of Sam Smith held in Sligo this afternoon.

A jury of six men and two women reached a unanimous verdict before coroner Eamon MacGowan.

The 23 year old was shot at his home in Carroll drive, Sligo on the 30th of December 2005 and died from his injuries the following day.


The coronor informed the jury they were there to establish the facts in the death of 23 year old Sam Smith in Sligo town in 2005.

A number of witnesses were called to the stand by Sergeant Phillip Maree and a statement was read into court record of one of the responding gardai.

The court heard how Mr. Smith answered a knock on the door at 29 Carroll drive on the night of December 30th 2005 before three shots were fired with two making contact.

Inspector Donal Sweeney of Sligo garda station told the court a man was witnessed running through a car park from the house towards nearby Benson Drive.

He said five people had been arrested in connection with Mr. Smith’s death but no-one has ever been charged and the investigation remains open but the likelihood of new evidence presenting itself at this stage was unlikely.

The victim’s brother Robert Smith who lived at the same address told the court how his brother answered a knock at the door shortly before 11.20pm and he witnessed him slam the door before falling to the ground.

The court then heard that an ambulance was called before the victim was taken to Sligo hospital by family members.

Members of the nursing and surgery staff at Sligo hospital confirmed Mr. Smith’s arrival at 11.40pm before he was brought in to the operating theatre where the consultant surgeon Mr. Martin Cauldwell worked extensively for over five hours to stop internal bleeding.

He was pronounced dead at 6.10pm the following evening, December 31st.

Retired Garda John Molloy described how he received a call from the ambulance control about the shooting and went with his colleague retired Garda William O’Neill to 29 Carroll drive.

Upon arrival the court heard the house was empty but the two gardai witnessed a 2 inch hole in the main door and discovered three 9mm bullet shells on the steps.

Garda O’Neill was absent from the court but his statement was read into the court record.

Deputy state pathologist Dr. Michael Curtis then gave evidence of the post mortem which was carried out January 1st 2006.

He confirmed that Mr. Smith had died as a result of a gunshot to the abdomen with a gunshot to his right upper limb a contributory factor.

Following a short recess the jury retired for 10 minutes before returning with a verdict of unlawful killing.

There were tears from the assembled members of Mr. Smith’s family and friends present in the court.

Coronor Eamon MacGowan noted it was important for the family to receive a certain level of closure from the inquest.

He extended his symapthies to the family of Mr. Smith stating it was a shame to see a young innocent man violently killed by firearm in his family surroundings.

His sympathies were echoed by the jury and members of an Garda Siochana.

Solicitor for the Smith family Mark Mullaney on their behalf thanked the court, jury and garda siochana as well as the hospital staff at Sligo Hospital who’s work was described by the court as heroic.