Shebani gang linked to attempted beheading after thug has acid poured over groin in feud
The acid attack led to a sickening response from the Shebani crew who tried to decapitate a man with a hatchet days later
A member of the cross-border gang led by the notorious Shebani brothers had acid poured over his head and groin in a vicious attack last weekend as part of an escalating feud in the Newry area.
The acid attack led to a sickening response from the Shebani crew who tried to decapitate a man with a hatchet days later.
The shocking incidents are part of a feud between the Shebani gang - led by Dublin brothers Aymen and Nial Shebani - and associates of gun victim Colin 'Collie' McDonald who survived an assassination bid in Newry earlier this year.
The Shebanis were born in Dublin but moved to their father's homeland Libya when Nial was a few months old and Aymen was two.
They returned to Dublin when Nial was 11 and Aymen was 13 and lived in the Donaghmede area. They became involved in feuds on the northside of the city and had links to the crime boss known as Mr Big.
Shebani gang member Steven Patrick Morgan (27), who was previously arrested in relation to the gun attack on McDonald, was targeted by a group of men in the Chancellors Hall estate where he lives in Newry shortly before 2.50am last Sunday.
He was violently assaulted and left with a broken arm. Even more horrifically, he had acid poured on him so he would be left with lifelong scars.
Sources claim that as well as pouring acid on his face his attackers poured acid on his groin area.
Associates of Newry man Colin 'Collie' McDonald are suspected of carrying out the acid attack.
McDonald was lucky to escape with his life when he was shot three times during a botched murder bid by the Shebani gang in Newry in February.
He was hit in the back of the leg as well as the backside during the attack as he ran from the scene.
Morgan and his associate Jamie Gallogly (27) from Belleeks, South Armagh, were arrested over the attack on McDonald but both were later released on police bail.
There was further horrendous violence on Wednesday when two men linked to the Shebani gang, one of whom is alleged to be Gallogly, carried out a horrific hatchet attack on two men in a murder attempt at a caravan in the Moor Hill Road area of Newry.
They tried to decapitate one of the victims and hack off his hands in the vicious attacks.
Innocent mechanic Sean Collins, who owned the caravan, was left fighting for his life after the attack.
Both victims received fractured skulls, punctured lungs and severe lacerations including one who was left with a 12cm laceration to the back of his neck.
Sources described Mr Collins as a soft target who was not involved in the acid attack on Morgan. He is not involved in crime and may have been targeted because of people he is friendly with.
Shebani associate Gallogly appeared in court on Friday charged in connection with the attack on Mr Collins.
He was charged with two counts of attempted murder, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and possessing a weapon.
Det. Const. Glenn said he believed he could connect Gallogly to each of the charges, adding that his application for bail was opposed due to the risk of further offences being committed.
According to the police case, the victims were asleep in a mobile home on the Moorhill Road, in Newry, when two masked and hooded men armed with hatchets smashed their way in and attacked them.
A brother of one of the victims told cops he heard a disturbance outside his house and when he went to investigate, he saw the two men leaving and running to a waiting car which sped off.
Turning to the injuries the men sustained, the officer said the victim who suffered the attempted decapitation had also sustained a fractured skull, a punctured lung and "significant damage to the bones in his left hand."
The other victim had sustained what he said were "life-changing injuries" including a fractured skull, two punctured lungs as well as "severe lacerations…caused by a bladed instrument."
DC Glenn said that Gallogly was arrested at his home after both victims named him as one of the attackers.
When cops arrived at the address, "officers noted a strong smell of bleach," there were "remnants of a fire" smouldering in the grate and they also spotted a "small spot of blood" which has been sent for forensic analysis.
The detective said police believed the hatchet attack was linked to an incident last month when an associate of Gallogly had acid thrown over him and also to a shooting in Newry in January.
"We fear there's going to be further offences and further attacks as a result of this feud and there may be retaliation at Mr Gallogly as it seems to be tit-for-tat," he told the court.
District Judge Eamon King said the "main concern" of the police is that the feud has "escalated" to an alleged attempted murder bid and that it could get worse.
"I'm going to add to that," said the judge, "there's a further risk here of interference with witnesses given the context of the offence that there's an ongoing dispute between opposing groups in the Newry area."
Refusing bail, he said "there are no conditions that could satisfy me that the risk would be managed" and remanding Gallogly into custody, he adjourned the case to 29 June.
The Shebani gang have been linked to murders and attempted murders north and south of the border over more than a decade.
They are led by Aymen Shebani, who is currently awaiting trial on firearms and drugs charges in the North related to the Encrochat hack, and his brother Nial who was locked up last year for a violent attack on a man who was slashed in the face with a Stanley blade and kicked unconscious.
Shebani, who carried out the knife attack, was given a five year sentenced while Morgan, who assaulted the victim who was left facially disfigured, was ordered to complete 180 hours community service for his role.
Nial Shebani is also facing trial for allegedly assaulting four prison officers in Maghaberry Prison on the day he was sentenced to five years for the knife attack.
Aymen is set to stand trial shortly accused of being "heavily involved" in the large-scale distribution of cocaine and cannabis.
He is facing a total six charges connected to conspiring to import cannabis and cocaine and conspiring to possess a firearm and/or ammunition with intent to endanger life. He has pleaded not guilty to all six charges.
Associates of Shebani are prime suspects for the murders of Mark Noonan and Glen Murphy. The innocent cousins were shot dead at the Tesco Clearwater service station in Finglas on November 23, 2010, in a case of mistaken identity.
He was also previously charged with the attempted murder of his former associate Simon O'Connor (36). However, the charges in relation to the Newry assault were later dropped by the legal team working on behalf of the PSNI.
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