The Irish student shot in a drive-by shooting in Huddersfield six months ago fears those who viciously assaulted him might never be brought to justice.
Fearghal Cross, from Kesh in Co. Fermanagh, was walking alone through the town centre in the early hours of April 28 when he was beaten and shot in an unprovoked attack. He has no recollection of the event but says eye-witnesses reports told how someone shot at him with what was later discovered to be a pellet gun, before getting out of a vehicle to continue the attack.
The 22-year-old suffered a bleed on the brain and a perforated ear drum among injuries that required a two-week stay in hospital. But while he has recovered and is enjoying an active lifestyle again, Mr Cross said he was forced to withdraw from a oneyear post-graduate teaching course because he now finds it difficult to pay attention. He says he has developed symptoms associated with dyslexia and ADHD. “I keep zoning out,” he says. “It was never a struggle to pay attention before the attack, so I decided to suspend my place on the course until next year and look for some part-time work”.
In the days that followed his assault, police arrested two males aged 16 and 31. West Yorkshire Police told The Irish Post the suspects “are answering bail” this week. But the Fermanagh man fears there is not enough hard evidence to press charges. He told The Irish Post he is not suffering any emotional fall-out but finds it disconcerting that those who attacked him “probably” know who he is because of the media coverage he received, but Fearghal has no idea who they are. “I could have held a door open for them since the attack and I’d never have known, never will know!” he says. “I’m not fearful of any repercussions or anything like that — it just feels a bit strange.”
Those first days in hospital, the 22-year-old was given the last rites by a local parish priest and had to be force-fed by his mother who flew from Ireland to be at his bedside. When he regained consciousness he thought he was suffering a severe hangover and was surprised to see work colleagues at his bedside, in hospital! “I was never christened,” he laughed. “So the lads slag me that I received the last rites, without ever being baptised.”
Since the attack, the Kesh native has graduated with a 2.1 in Product Design from the University of Huddersfield. “I was lucky that most of the work was done before the attack took place,” he said. And last summer, he returned to Fermanagh where he spent two months recovering with his family. He said when the time came to return to Britain, the attack made him feel anxious about leaving home again — four years after his original departure.
“I was happy at home, I felt relaxed there, but I also had commitments here and didn’t want to leave the lads in the lurch with rent. I’m happy to be back. The support I received has been great and I’m back playing soccer again. It’s funny, I only started playing GAA when I moved to Britain, so to be identified as a GAA player when I was shot, was something I got a lot of slagging about back home too.”