Members of An Garda Síochána who have been killed in the line of duty
Shane Raymond lists a selection of members of An Garda Síochána who have been killed while trying to prevent crime or help others.
1975 – Garda Michael Joseph Reynolds (30)
While off duty with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, a getway car almost crashed into Michael Reynolds on the Howth road. The fugitives were coming from a raid on a branch of the Bank of Ireland where they stole £7,000. Reynolds pursued the thieves with his wife and child in the car, reaching up to 60 mph in a chase through Dublin suburbs, concluding at St. Anne’s Park in Raheny. Reynolds pursued, unarmed, on foot, where he tackled one of the runaways and dragged him to the ground. One of the other raiders told Reynolds to let their accomplice go, but Reynolds held on. He was shot in the head.
Two of the raiders were later caught and sentenced to death, though this sentence would later be commuted to life.
1980 – Detective John Morley (38) and Garda Henry Byrne (30)
The gardaí that responded to three masked members of Saor Éire robbing a Roscommon bank had to let the raiders escape as they brought no guns with them. Later in Castlerea, the getaway car crashed into a gardaí vehicle which was pursuing them. With their car disabled, the felons attacked the gardaí vehicle with shotguns, killing Garda Henry Byrne who left behind two children and a pregnant wife.
Detective John Morley, who was once Captain of Mayo’s GAA team, gave chase across fields to two of the fleeing raiders. It is believed he shot and injured one of the them with his Uzi, but he got fatally wounded himself shortly after. He was married with two sons and a daughter.
All three of the robbers were later arrested, found guilty and sentenced to death, though their sentences were later reduced to 40 years by order of President Patrick Hillary.
1985 – Sergeant Patrick Morrissey (49)
Criminals stole £25,000 from the Labour Exchange before shooting at two gardaí who came upon them on patrol and fleeing in the manager’s car. Sergeant Morrissey flagged down the two gardaí as they pursued the robbers, and joined them in the chase.
By this time the criminals had ditched the car for a motorcycle, which they crashed into a car on Rathbrist Cross. The two gardaí stayed with the injured occupants of the car while an unarmed Morrissey pursued the thieves onto the grounds of Rathbrist house. There he was shot and fell to the ground where, a short time later, he was shot again, point-blank to the head in what has been described as an execution.
Morrissey had a wife and four children, and was a member of the gardaí subaqua unit. He also volunteered with Drogheda River Rescue and was known for saving the life of a drowning teenager. His killers were the last people to be sentenced to death by the Irish State.
1996 – Detective Jerry McCabe (53)
Four months after the breakdown of the first IRA ceasefire, Detective McCabe was part of an escort for a post office van carrying £81,000. Shortly before 7 am, he and his partner were parked in a Garda car behind the van in Ardare when a Jeep purposely crashed into them from behind. Two members of the provisional IRA exited the car in balaclavas and sprayed the gardaí vehicle with an AK-47. Although the detectives were armed, they had no time to use their weapons. Jerry McCabe was hit three times, fatally. His partner was hit eleven times but survived despite serious injuries. The ambushers escaped before being able to steal any of the An Post money.
McCabe, who was from Kerry, had five children, two of which are now gardaí. Four men were convicted in connection with the crime, however the charge was reduced to manslaughter after two witnesses withdrew their testimony. All sentences have been served as of August 2009.
1999 – Sergeant Andrew John Callanan (36)
At 4.45 am, a man entered Tallaght Garda Station with two flares and a pair of five-litre canisters of petrol and said: “You have two minutes to get out.” The man, who was upset about being barred from his family home due to accusations of sexually assaulting one of his daughters and threatening to kill his wife, tried to commit suicide by spilling petrol over the station and himself.
Callanan, who was standing nearby with a fire extinguisher, tried to disarm the man who responded by throwing petrol at Callanan and setting it alight.The ensuing blast killed Callanan and injured other gardaí, but the injured assailant escaped in a car.
Callanan had a wife, a son, twin girls, and had recently passed exams to become an inspector.
His assailant was convicted of arson and manslaughter after a jury failed to reach a verdict on murder.
2009 – Garda Gary McLoughlin (24)
While driving a patrol car in the early hours of Sunday morning, Gary responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle. ‘Garda Killer’ Martin McDermott, who had 91 previous convictions and was banned from driving for twenty years, lead McLoughlin on a 30 km chase as he tried to cross the border into Derry, reaching speeds of up to 150 km in doing so. The gardaí had decided not to use a stinger device as they were afraid the speeding car could lose control. McLoughlin was trying to regain sight of McDermott’s vehicle when it suddenly came into view, speeding toward him on the wrong side of the road. The crash was such that it ripped the engine from the body of the Opel Astra and threw the driver 60 yards down the road.
McLoughlin died in Letterkenny hospital the next day. It later emerged that he had planned to ask his long-term girlfriend to marry him when she turned 21 in May 2011.
His killer escaped from Loughan house open prison in Cavan in March of this year, however he was arrested the following day and sentenced to seven years.
2011 – Garda Ciarán Jones (24)
During the floodings of October last year, Ciarán, who was off duty at the time, assisted drivers at Ballysmuttan bridge, Wicklow. While warning motorists of dangerous driving conditions he lost his footing and was thrust into the river. His body was found the next morning after being swept five kilometres down the Liffey.
Ciarán joined the Gardaí in 2008 and played for Kilbride GAA club and Wicklow senior footballers. The bridge he was forced from has been renamed in his honour.