Inquest told of woman’s final conversations before she went missing

An inquest into the death of a young woman in Co Antrim has heard about some of her final conversations.
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Shona Gillan, 18, went missing after leaving her mother's house in Antrim on March 3 2021. Her body was found at the Six Mile Water river three days later on March 6. Police at the time ruled out that she had taken her own life and said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

Ms Gillan's ex-girlfriend Morgan Irvine gave evidence to an inquest into her death at Antrim Courthouse on Tuesday. Ms Irvine detailed how 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. They became involved in a relationship in February 2020 but had broken up a few weeks before Ms Gillan died, the inquest heard.

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In her statement to police, which was read to the hearing, Ms Irvine said they had been arguing a lot over the phone but had not seen each other in person since the day they split up. Ms Irvine said she had been due to travel to Antrim to see Ms Gillan the day after she went missing. "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 said in her statement to police.

Shona GillenShona Gillen
Shona Gillen

She said that on March 3, Ms Gillan had texted her in the morning as usual to see if she was OK. 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, explaining that she could hear people shouting in the background during the call. She said 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".

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"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 continues.