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Chaotic past of a small-time player

He drove at speeds of more than 85mph in a seven-mile chase

CRACK cocaine. Criminal damage to cars. Running over a garda. Exposing himself. Heroin. Dangerous driving. Petrol sniffing. Ambushing and assaulting a taxi driver.

Noel Deans' appearances in court were regular, the charges generally involving stolen vehicles, speed and violent altercations with gardai.

The father of one was just 27 when he was gunned down late on Saturday night near his partner's house, but he had spent much of the last 13 years in jail.

But while he was well known to gardai, officers investigating his cold-blooded murder do not believe that he was a significant player in gangland crime.

Rather, he was small-time, with a long history of self-destructive behaviour and chaotic crimes. The courts regularly heard of his psychiatric problems.

In 2000, Deans was before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after he had stolen a car and run over a garda. Garda Declan Nolan suffered a number of bone fractures and had to have a steel plate inserted into his knee after the incident in April 1999.

Deans was being chased by gardai after stealing a car in Coolock, Dublin. He crashed into a squad car before reversing over Garda Nolan. He was sentenced to four years.

Deans had already been before the court many times, the most recent when he had exposed himself to gardai.

But jail had proved little deterrent to Deans. He was first locked up at the age of 14, and soon after he began serving the four-year sentence he was up on trial again.

Trim Circuit Court heard that he had ambushed and assaulted a taxi driver, and then took his car a few months after the incident in Coolock.He was again sentenced to four years. But he didn't learn his lesson.

In 2004, he stole a Honda SUV in Malahide when the owner left the keys inside as he went into the post office. He crashed into a garda car after a high-speed chase.

The court heard that the then 21-year-old had only spent a year-and-a-half out of custody since he was first convicted of a criminal offence at the age of 14.

Deans got another three years on that occasion.

On Saturday night, out of prison and after enjoying an evening in a pub close to home, he was shot dead as he walked to his partner's house.

Irish Independent