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Inquest into unexplained death of Co Antrim woman hears details of last conversation with ex girlfriend

Shona Gillan’s (18) body was found by a dog walker in a one-foot deep stretch of the Six Mile Water in Co Antrim

Shona Gillan

Allison MorrisBelfast Telegraph

An inquest into the unexplained death of a Co Antrim teenager has heard details of the last conversation a former girlfriend had with the deceased.

Shona Gillan went missing on March 3, 2021.

The 18-year-old had disappeared after leaving her mother's home in Valiant Court in Antrim.

Her body was found three days later by a dog walker in a one-foot deep stretch of the Six Mile Water.

Police at the time said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

However, the family questioned aspects of that narrative.

Shona's sister and brother, Amy and Ryan Reid, had made an emotional appeal for information after a number of issues around her death had deeply concerned the family.

On the night of her disappearance Ms Gillan — the youngest of nine children — had gone to meet friends.

Her phone was last used at 11.40pm on the Wednesday, and after that police say there was no other activity from her number.

The inquest is investigating Ms Gillan’s last days and hours in an attempt to give her family answers to outstanding questions.

Members of the family were present in the coroner’s court today as one of Ms Gillan’s friends gave evidence.

Morgan Irvine, who was an ex-girlfriend of the deceased, said they had been arguing a lot over the phone, but had not seen each other in person since the day they split up several weeks before her death.

The pair had known each other for several years after Ms Gillan’s mother had given her somewhere to stay when she had been homeless.

Speaking as the inquest sat at Antrim Courthouse, Ms Irvine said she had been due to travel to Antrim to see Ms Gillan the day after she went missing.

A statement she had given to police was read to the court.

“Our relationship had been through ups and downs but prior to us breaking up, we had been arguing a lot. We stayed in contact by phone, and I moved to Belfast,” she had stated.

She said that on March 3, Ms Gillan had texted her in the morning as usual to see how she was.

Ms Irvine explained that she had struggled with drug and alcohol issues and that Ms Gillan regularly checked in to see how she was.

Later that night, Ms Irvine said Ms Gillan phoned her several times between 7pm and 10pm.

“The first time I spoke, we argued, and I texted her to stop phoning me.”

She said could hear people shouting in the background during the call, adding that a man they both knew had been “getting Shona riled up to argue with me”.

In the course of several conversations, she said the pair agreed to meet up the next day in Antrim.

Ms Irvine said she told Ms Gillan to go home and call her when she did because she was worried about her, describing her as having “sounded extremely drunk, slurring her words and crying”.

“I asked Shona where she was but she wouldn’t tell me because she knows I would try to find her and help her, I didn’t hear from Shona again,” she said.

“I tried to phone Shona later on that night, I tried her mobile a couple of times between 11pm and 1am, the phone rang but Shona didn’t pick up.

“The next morning I texted Shona to see if she was OK but got no answer. Her mother rang me on the Thursday to see if Shona was with me, and I told her I hadn’t seen her.

“I sent more messages over the next day or two but got no reply, and I didn’t hear from her again.

“On the day her body was found, her mother phoned me to let me know. I couldn’t believe it, I was very upset.”

Coroner Joe McCrisken said the inquest had previously heard that Ms Gillan had been socialising in an area around the Six Mile Water river on the evening of March 3, which he had visited as part of his investigation.

He said the people Ms Gillan was with that night had told the inquest that she had told them she was going to Belfast for a party.

Ms Irvine said Ms Gillan had wanted to come to Belfast, but she would not let her.

“I said I would come to Antrim the next day; I told her I would ring her as soon as I was going to get the train, but the next day when I tried to phone her she didn’t answer so I didn’t get the train,” she said.

The inquest was adjourned to sit again in Belfast on Tuesday, January 17.


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