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Two men left bloodied following ambush by masked drug gang in daylight hammer attack

Up to five masked men armed with hammers hauled the two men from their car

Smashed up: The Audi car

Daniel McManus

Christopher Meli died in 2015

Paula Mackin and Richard SullivanSunday World

Two men were left battered and bloodied in a rival drug gang fallout in Belfast this week.

The incident on Wednesday afternoon on Conway Street in the lower Shankill saw up to five masked men armed with hammers hauling two men from their car and subjecting them to a daylight beating.

One of the victims – Daniel McManus – managed to drive the Audi car to the A&E Department at the Royal Hospital, where and his companion received treatment.

The Sunday Worldcan reveal McManus was convicted in relation to the brutal murder in 2015 of Christopher Meli, who was kicked to death by a mob in Poleglass.

Daniel McManus

On Wednesday McManus and his companion were in Conway Street for what sources say was a pre-arranged meeting when they were ambushed.

Windows were smashed and the pair brutally assaulted.

It had been rumoured that one of the victims had been the victim of a shooting, which was quickly dismissed by the PSNI.

Sources in the lower Shankill claim Conway Street is a regular meeting place for drug gangs, although there is no suggestion McManus and the other man, Corey Benson, were involved in dealing drugs.

Benson took to Facebook to claim he had been the victim of a sectarian attack.

He claimed to have been hit on the head with a hatchet simply because he is a Catholic.

Pictures and video circulated on social media showing the smashed-up car arriving at hospital where it was examined by the PSNI.

The attack, which sources say was well planned, took place in the heart of the lower Shankill, a drug territory controlled by UFF drug lord Mo Courtney.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police are appealing for information following the report of an assault in west Belfast yesterday afternoon, Wednesday 8 March.

“Just before 4pm, police received a report that two men had arrived in hospital following an assault in Conway Street.

“The victims reported that at approximately 3.30pm they were in a parked vehicle in the area when they were approached by approximately five to six masked men.

“The men, who are believed to have been armed with hammers, subsequently attacked the pair.

“The two men made their way to hospital, where they received treatment for their injuries.

“Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who may have any CCTV or dashcam footage that could assist with enquiries is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 1327 of 08/03/23.

“Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

McManus was one of eight vicious young people charged with offences linked to the murder of father-of-one Christopher Meli, who was beaten to death on the evening of December 12, 2015, in west Belfast.

Christopher Meli died in 2015

From Springbank Drive in Dunmurry, McManus was charged with affray and whilst he initially denied the charge, he entered a guilty plea after being re-arraigned.

Eight young people were sentenced in 2019 for offences linked to the death of the loving son and father.

His family have never been able to come to terms with his brutal and senseless death.

Christopher was beaten by a crowd of up to 15 people in an area known as Doc’s Path in Twinbrook.

Two of his friends were also attacked as part of a series of violent incidents in the area involving two groups of young people.

The 20-year-old died at the scene.

Christopher and his group of friends were attacked in revenge for an earlier assault on Dan McGrath, who sustained a broken nose after he was punched and kicked in a kebab shop.

Daniel McManus was placed on probation for a year.

When contacted yesterday the Meli family said their pain never goes away but did not wish to comment.

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