A 22-year-old man was savagely knifed in the face in a violent jail incident that prison insiders say is the worst attack they have ever seen.
Owen Costello, of Balbriggan, north Co Dublin, had his "face sliced open" with a sharp blade from his ear to his mouth in a sickening attack at Wheatfield Prison.
A source explained: "It was a gruesome sight and such a deep cut. The skin was taken right off the fella's face and his teeth and jaw bone were exposed.
"It was absolutely sickening -- the strange thing is that Mr Costello did not even fight back or scream or anything like that."
Costello was treated for his injuries in hospital and will be left scarred for life while his attacker was put on a punishment wing after the blade attack.
It was just the latest violent attack at Wheatfield Prison which now has Ireland's biggest prison population with over 700 inmates in an institute with a recommended operational capacity of less than 400.
Sources have described the atmosphere as "a tinderbox ready to explode" with a number of violent feuds between prisoners and serious assaults taking place on "a daily basis."
"Things are out of control here -- there is no work available for at least half the prisoners in the jail because of the overcrowding.
"With nothing for them to do, they are finding much more scope to be involved in violent incidents," said a source.
Mr Costello was attacked last week and the prison authorities are still trying to establish who was responsible.
The victim is well known to gardai and he was jailed for four years in July, 2008, for a crime spree in 2007 which included the robbery of a pensioner, breaking a girl's collarbone and a garda's nose, and mugging a party of tourists. During the attack on the pensioner in Balbriggan on October 30, 2007, a teenage associate of Costello hit the terrified man across the head with a hammer when he told the two thugs that he had no money.
Dublin Circuit Court heard that the pensioner heard a bang as he slept in his home on Clonard Street, Balbriggan, before being confronted in his bedroom by the youth and Costello who demanded money and bank cards.
When he said he didn't have any money, the youth hit him across the head with a small hammer which was a emergency hammer for breaking windows, taken from a bus.
The pair searched the house before they fled.