Shooting victim (20) was on temporary release from jail
By Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent
Wednesday August 06 2008
A YOUNG shooting victim is fighting for his life, just days after being given temporary release from prison.
Mark Fagan had been sentenced to two months behind bars on July 8 for threatening and drunken behaviour.
However, he was last week let out on temporary release from Mountjoy after serving just half of his sentence.
The 20-year-old was gunned down in a field in Ballyfermot, Dublin, on Monday night.
Five men were last night being questioned by gardai about the shooting, as Fagan remained in a serious but stable condition at St James's Hospital.
Prison Service sources denied Fagan's temporary release was connected to overcrowding issues at Mountjoy.
A source said the shortness of Fagan's sentence, and the relatively minor offence he was incarcerated for, were factors in deciding to allow his temporary release.
However, the Prison Officers Association said Mountjoy was largely overcrowded last week and that temporary release was a practice commonly used to alleviate the problem.
The shooting is believed to have been carried out by associates of a gang leader who is involved in a bitter feud with a rival gang in the Crumlin-Drimnagh area.
However, the attack is not thought to be linked to the feud and may be connected with other matters.
Fagan was shot in the abdomen shortly after 10pm on Monday night in a field at the rear of Wheatfield Prison, in Cherry Orchard.
His assailants left him for dead and drove away in a stolen Honda Civic, which was later found burnt out.
A short time later, officers from the Organised Crime Unit who had been in the area, intercepted two cars and arrested five men, four in their twenties and one aged 39.
The suspects were being questioned last night under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.
Gardai said they were keeping an "open mind" as to the motive for the attack.
It is not known whether Fagan was abducted and taken to the field, or went there willingly. He refused to cooperate with investigating officers yesterday.
After the attack, gardai sealed off a green area at the back of Cherry Orchard Hospital and also a small part of the hospital grounds itself, as a team of forensic specialists combed the area for clues. Fagan, who has lived at addresses at Windmill Road and Captain's Road in Crumlin, as well as Curlew Road in Drimnagh, and Whitethorn Drive in Palmerstown, has been before the courts on a number of occasions in recent years.
He was convicted in July on one count of threatening and abusive behaviour and one count of intoxication in a public place. A judge handed down consecutive one month sentences for each offence.
He has also been questioned in relation to burglary and car theft.
Last night friends of Fagan exchanged messages on social networking site Bebo about the shooting.
One pal described him as "another fallin soldja. 1 off d best." Another reassured friends, "he's not dead in any way".
It is thought the presence of the Organised Crime Unit in the area may have saved Fagan's life, as they were able to have an ambulance on the scene within minutes.
Gardai have been on alert for several months following a heightening in tensions between rival gangs in the Crumlin and Drimnagh area.
Officers have adopted a heavy policing approach to tackling the gangs and have been closely monitoring the movements of those identified as being involved in the feud.
They have already foiled two attempted gangland hits in recent months.
In April, two men were stopped in a car on O'Connell Street while on their way to assassinate a gang leader in a pub. Officers also intercepted a gunman near the Grand Canal last month.
- Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent