DESPITE his young years, Ireland's latest gangland murder victim Paul Cullen had already chalked up multiple convictions for serious crime.
The 25-year-old had links with a dangerous mob of Cabra hoods who are now suspected of murdering him over a drugs debt.
Despite his links to this mob, sources say that Cullen was more of "a thug and disorganised criminal" than a senior gang member.
"He certainly was no gang boss or anything like that but he was heavily involved in serious crime," a source said.
Cullen's reckless behaviour was on full display when as a 20-year-old he was involved in an attack on three gardai, including a female officer who was kicked in the stomach.
This shocking incident led then Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy to condemn Cullen's behaviour and that of his cousin Carl Cullen – also from Cabra.
Speaking after visiting the traumatised officers in hospital, Commissioner Murphy said the savage attack had taken place "while they were going about their duty protecting the community".
Carl and Paul Cullen pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Court to assaulting Garda Amanda Lynch on November 30, 2007.
Paul also pleaded guilty to taking possession of an official garda weapon, while Carl pleaded guilty to assaulting student Garda Zhihao Weng.
Judge Katherine Delahunt imposed a three-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended on Paul Cullen while Carl was jailed for five years.
Paul Cullen took Garda Lynch's weapon and kicked her in the stomach while Carl hit her on the head as she was attempting to arrest another youth, the court heard.
Student Garda Weng, meanwhile, was kicked and punched by Carl until reinforcements arrived.
Detective Sergeant Fergal O'Flaherty said when he arrived to the scene he drew his firearm and told Paul to drop the weapon.
Paul lowered the baton and a struggle ensued with Carl running to help his cousin. Both Cullens were eventually restrained and arrested
By this time Paul Cullen was sentenced for this offence he was already serving a four- and-a-half-year sentence after he was caught with €56,000 worth of cannabis.
The court heard that Cullen was a cocaine addict who had raised €5,000 to clear his drugs debt after a bullet was posted to his home.
He ended up minding the drugs but after he was busted, the gang that Cullen was involved with turned on him and brutally assaulted him, leaving him with serious hand injuries. Sentencing Cullen, Judge Tony Hunt said this was another sad case of a young man going to jail because of cocaine use and was "a further warning, if one is needed, to those who engage in what is called 'recreational drug use'".
As well as getting a bullet sent through the post and the violence carried out on him by the criminals who wanted their loss repaid, Cullen was "the one who is going to have to serve a custodial sentence because he used cocaine" the judge added.
Judge Hunt said it was also sad to see the suffering brought about to Cullen's family members. He noted that Cullen "went back to work" to raise €5,000 to clear his drug-debt and said this was money that could have been beneficial to his partner and family.
It is understood that while in prison Cullen continued to associate with gangsters.
He was released last year and survived a murder bid last August, but the thugs finally caught up with him last night.