A CRIMINAL miraculously survived 9mm bullet wounds to his head and upper body.
David Rice (24) told gardai he was shot with a pellet gun. But on examination it was found he was hit by 9mm bullets.
Rice was attacked as he walked through Fortlawn Park in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, on Monday night.
He told gardai his lone attacker was masked but was unable to give a description of him.
Rice told fire brigade personnel he was not badly hurt and did not require hospital treatment. However, he then began to feel unwell and was taken to Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown where he was examined by doctors.
They established that he had been hit by a 9mm bullet in the rear of the head but it did not penetrate his skull. A second bullet lodged in his upper back.
His condition was described last night as critical at the hospital where gardai had him under armed guard.
Rice is the second man to be shot in the head in Dublin in two days. Both victims survived the attacks, which are not believed to be connected.
A senior garda told the Irish Independent: "Both men had miraculous escapes and have cheated death."
Gardai believe the shooting of Rice may be linked to a row between two groups in the west Dublin area and say that he was friendly with some of the men involved in the dispute.
Rice, who lives in Whitechapel in Rathfarnham, had been in the Fortlawn area on Monday night to visit his parents and was walking through the park on his way home when he came under fire.
He was given a two-year suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in February 2005 when he was convicted of assault and possession of a knife at Fortlawn Park in May 2003.
Meanwhile, officers investigating the shooting of Luke Wilson (18) in the Memorial Park in Inchicore were continuing to question the 19-year-old prime suspect.
The suspect was arrested in Ballyfermot in searches carried out by gardai shortly after the shooting incident and taken to the investigation headquarters at Kilmainham.
Mr Wilson's condition at St James's Hospital is described as critical but stable after being shot in the head and neck as he walked through the park on Sunday afternoon.
He is expected to recover from the shooting but has sustained serious injuries to one eye and to his throat.
The attack is being connected to a row a week earlier between Mr Wilson and another man, who is not suspected of being involved in the shooting.
Gardai are satisfied that Mr Wilson knew his attacker but will not be able to carry out a detailed interview with him until his condition has improved.