'I was stabbed 19 times and had my throat slit'

By Maurice Garvey

A FORMER convicted armed robber was lucky to survive a barbaric prison assault two years ago, which left him with 19 stab wounds, including a slit throat.

Miraculously, Laurence Bryan (38), from Brookfield, Tallaght, survived the pre-meditated attack by four other inmates in Midlands Prison, described by the Irish Prison Service at the time as a “very, very brutal assault.”

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Thomas Morgan (Manager Irish team), Laurence Bryan and former Ireland International Wesley Hoolahan (West Bromwich Albion)

“I shouldn’t be alive,” admits Laurence.

Laurence’s older brother Gary Bryan, a former hit man, wasn’t so lucky, shot to death outside his girlfriend’s home on Bunting Road in Walkinstown in 2006 by two suspects who escaped in a stolen vehicle.

“I was only in Midlands for a month but was attacked by four lads, stabbed 19 times – my brother’s legacy,” said Laurence, reflecting on the Crumlin/ Drimnagh feud that Gary was involved in, while pointing to the massive scar visible right across his neck.

According to authorities, Gary (31) was a hitman for hire and a chief suspect for the murders of Paul Warren and Wayne Zumbra, in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

After his brother was hit and killed by six bullets, Laurence fell back into the scourge of drugs – developing a predilection for “jump-overs”, most of which were carried out at businesses in the Tallaght area to fuel his out-of-control addiction.

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Dublin Mayor Paul McAuliffe and Sean Kavanagh (Founder of the Irish Street Leagues) in the Mansion House

The straight-A Leaving Cert student had no involvement in crime until his brother’s death, but following a first conviction in 2008, amassed more than 130 convictions including robbery, criminal damage and possession of knives.

“I was just crazy at the time, drugs make you crazy,” Laurence told The Echo.

“Growing up as a kid in Brookfield, I played GAA for Thomas Davis, junior football for St Pat’s (St Patrick’s Athletic), but started doing party drugs at 16, and that led me on to heroin at 17.”

During one crime spree in 2013, courts heard he robbed the same Tallaght pharmacy four times in four days, while local petrol stations and takeaway restaurants also received the “jump-over” treatment.

Remarkably, today Laurence is sober and with a clear mind, is preparing to go to college and start a more positive chapter of his life.

“I’m clean since May, and completed a rehab programme in Coolmine,” he says.

“Horticulture is what I want to do. I have a job lined up and I’m starting college in September. I like it (horticulture). I’ve always liked hard work, and seeing a job done. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to see a job finished well, also being mindful of nature.”

While in Coolmine, Laurence took part in the Irish Street Leagues, mostly playing each week in Pearse Street, and has been picked to represent Ireland at the Homeless World Cup (Wales, July 27 to August 3).

“I knew about the football leagues in Coolmine. I would have played for Ireland in the 2006 Homeless World Cup in South Africa, but I broke my kneecap. Instead of going to South Africa, I’ll be going to Wales,” he laughed.

Speaking to The Echo at the Mansion House this week for the announcement of the Irish Homeless World Cup team, Laurence said: “The closest fella to me on the team is 27. It took a while for them to cop on that I’m the oldest.

“Thomas (Manager of the Irish team Thomas Morgan) is really good, he knows how to get us up to speed with the technicalities of the game and the rules (the World Cup is a four versus four format) which are quite technical. He will run the legs out of you, and at 38 it gets kind of hard, but I’m really looking forward to it, it’s going to be great.”

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