Police have said that west Belfast murder victim Mark Hall’s sister is “lucky to be alive today” after the gunmen that killed her brother narrowly missed her with a gunshot as they ran off on Saturday afternoon. In a media briefing on Sunday, Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said: “What we currently know is that two gunmen approached Mark’s family home on Rodney Drive shortly after 4.30pm on Saturday December 18. “Mark’s sister, who was returning from some local shops, saw the gunmen approach the house and tried to intervene before a number of shots were fired through the front window, striking and fatally wounding Mark. “A number of family members were present in the room when these shots were fired, all narrowly missing injury.
“As the gunmen made off, a shot was fired at Mark’s sister which passed through her handbag. She’s lucky to be alive today. Mark was taken to hospital and despite the efforts of paramedics he died a short time later as a result of his injuries.” The superintendent added that the PSNI are are “keeping an open mind” around the motive behind Mr Hall’s murder, but believe it to be “a targeted attack”. Mr Hall was a well-known criminal and had previously been charged with extortion alongside former UVF chief Davy Murphy, who was gunned down by the terror gang in 2019 for stealing weapons.
In March 2018, both Hall and Murphy appeared in court charged with trying to extort £10,000 from a Co Antrim farmer. The pair informed the victim there was a £10,000 bounty on his head and an elderly relative would be harmed if he did not pay up. The 31-year-old was also good friends with Warren Crossan — the son of slain Continuity IRA boss Tommy Crossan — who was killed by Dublin gangsters in June 2020.
west Belfast murder
20 minutes after Mark’s shooting said there was a big crowd of the victim’s friends gathered nearby. All three were members of a cross-border crime gang heavily involved in drug dealing and break-ins at the homes of gun owners. “The victim Mark is known to the police. We’re keeping an open mind around the motive of this attack. It’s the early stages of this inquiry and we will be following all lines of inquiry,” added Superintendent Corrigan. He said that two handguns were used in the killing, with at least seven shots being fired and described Mark’s family as being in a “state of shock” and “grieving for their loved one”. Mr Hall leaves behind his partner Sabrina Wilde, who is pregnant with their second child, and their young daughter, Freya Joanne Hall.
No family should ever have to go through this unbelievable heartbreak. There’s no place for guns and reckless violence on our streets. The thoughtless actions of these gunmen could have resulted in a greater loss of life,” continued Superintendent Corrigan. “A robust investigation has been launched by the PSNI’s Major Investigations team into this callous attack. “It is too early to speculate on the motive for this murder, however we do believe this was a targeted attack and our officers will be working over the coming days to piece together all the information to gather evidence. “These gunmen do not think about the impact these attacks have on the wider community. Who are rightfully shocked and fearful.” It’s understood he was not long out of jail and had recently been acquitted of gun and drug offences. His co-accused, Abdel Rezk from Co Cork, was jailed for three years after the pair were found in a room in the Balmoral Hotel with two guns, a silencer and drugs. “There was a big police presence but the ambulance had already left with the man’s body,” he said. “The police had both ends of the street sealed off but were letting residents through. “I heard that he had been hit as many as eight times and was dead before the paramedics arrived.”
Mr Crossan served six years in Maghaberry prison for conspiracy to murder RUC officers following a gun attack on a police station in west Belfast. Father of 6
He was the former commanding officer of the Continuity IRA – a hardline republican terrorist group opposed to the Irish peace process. Tommy Crossan was blasted to death in broad daylight on Friday evening. The dad-of-four was shot seven times including once in the head by a gang who strong-armed him into a fuel depot in West Belfast. Sources understand that prominent dissident republican Crossan was executed after he was accused by former colleagues of being a British agent and touting to the PSNI and MI5 about high-profile dissident republicans. A gang of three men in a red BMW car are believed to have carried out the killing. It was found burnt-out two streets away minutes after the shooting. The incident happened shortly before his daughter, Joanie, drove into the area to fill her car with diesel.
One local resident said: “It is terrible for his wife and children but other than that there’s little sympathy for Tommy Crossan on this street. A heavy police presence filtered into the Springfield Road area at 5.15pm after the shooting. Officers in a dozen police vehicles including members of the Tactical Support Group were at the scene and were on high alert. They helped escorted a cross-community group visiting the area moments after the shooting to safety. As the PSNI helicopter maintained a presence overhead a large group of family and friends, many of them weeping, gathered outside the building where Crossan had met his bloody end. Dozens of local children clambered around police vehicles demanding to know where the dead body was. Fr Tony Devlin, the parish priest of St Paul’s Catholic Church on the Falls Road, gave the last rites. The Lord Mayor of Belfast condemned the murder: Crossan had been defying a death threat by rival dissident republicans since 2011.
He received the threat from former comrades when masked gunmen accused him of being a British agent and ordered him to leave. They threatened: “Get out of Ireland or be killed. But Crossan told a Belfast newspaper: “I’m going nowhere. My conscience is clear. I’m no tout and never would be. It goes against everything I believe. “I haven’t stolen Continuity IRA money and I haven’t been involved in robberies. These liars are trying to criminalise me and drive me from my home. But I’m here to stay.” The funeral cortege of Tommy Crossan was flanked by masked men as the former CIRA boss was buried. The coffin of the father-of-six, who was gunned down on Good Friday in West Belfast, was carried by family members and draped in the tricolour on Thursday. Shots were fired over the coffin of murdered former CIRA leader Tommy Crossan on the eve of his funeral.
Inquest & questions
In 2019 a police watchdog probe into the alleged discovery of surveillance equipment in a van driven by a prominent dissident republican prior to his murder is nearing completion, an inquest has heard. The family of Tommy Crossan, who was shot dead in west Belfast in 2014, also asked the police ombudsman to establish how much police knew about those behind previous threats to kill the former leading Continuity IRA member. A barrister for the Crossan family told a preliminary inquest at Belfast Coroner’s Court today that he had been told the end of the ombudsman’s investigation was “imminent”. “We have been told an end result is imminent, but in my experience of PONI they often communicate that, then other documentation is found and that delays it,” he said. Coroner Patrick McGurgan also heard on Friday that police were collating non-sensitive and sensitive material in relation to Mr Crossan’s murder.
Mourners at Tommy Crossans funeral were told that Mr Warren Crossan had witnessed his father’s murder – “an event which left him traumatised”. The local community has unfortunately had to deal with gun violence recently as the deadly attack took place close to the scene of another murder 18 months ago. On that occasion gangland figure and father-of-two Warren Crossan was shot dead in broad daylight in St Katharine’s Road in June 2020 when two gunmen chased him and fired a number of shots in the busy residential area. Crossan (28) was previously arrested and questioned about the murder of Robbie Lawlor, a Dublin criminal who was shot dead in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast in April 2020.
Crossan was the son of a well-known dissident republican Tommy Crossan, who was shot dead on the Springfield Road, Belfast, in 2014. One of the chief suspects in the murder of psycho Robbie Lawlor was shot dead yesterday in broad daylight. Dissident republican Warren Crossan — who was aware of a threat on his life — was gunned down in West Belfast. Warren, son of prominent republican Tommy Crossan who was murdered in Belfast in 2014, was suspected of supplying cars in the murder of Lawlor.
Detective Chief Inspector Darren McCartney said: “I have launched a murder investigation following the fatal shooting of a man in his late 20s this afternoon. I believe the man was chased from the junction of Rodney Parade and St James’s Road along Rodney Parade by two masked gunmen before he was shot a number of times at close range in St Katharines Road. This was a brutal murder and the brazen recklessness of the killers completely beggars belief. “They did not give any thought to the risk posed to local people in this community who were going about their business at lunchtime when they ran through the streets firing shots. Nor did they care who may have been collateral damage in this highly populated residential area during their mission to kill. “My thoughts are very much with the family of the victim who are tonight in a state of shock and grieving for their loved one. No family should ever have to go through this heartbreak. “It is too early to speculate on the motive for this callous murder and over coming days I will be working to piece together all the information and evidence.”
Sunday world revealed Crossan was working closely with Lawlor in the drugs trade before he turned on the Drogheda feud mobster. A theory being explored by investigators is that Crossan may have been targeted by Lawlor’s associates in revenge for the his murder. But he had also been under threat from drug gangs and loyalist terror mobs in the North. A source said: “Crossan had a lot of enemies and it’s possible associates of lawlor’s had him targeted in revenge for the lawlor hit. “He had arranged for Lawlor to come to Belfast. He owed Lawlor money and then they double crossed him. “His car was outside the house where Lawlor was murdered earlier that day and was seized the following day by the PSNI. “Lawlor’s associates could have paid a gang to take Crossan out and it could all come down to money. “The PSNI will have to look at this inquiry because of his links to the Lawlor murder.” he was being treated as one of the main suspects in the killing of hitman Lawlor after police established he was in the Ardyone area at the time. Lawlor — a suspect in at least five murders — met his fate in the city on April 4 after being double crossed.