IRELAND'S latest gangland victim was gunned down in front of his father.
Paul Cullen (26) was blasted six times – three times in the head – after members of his own gang turned on him over a drugs debt.
A masked man burst into the Cabra House Pub in north Dublin shortly after 7pm yesterday where the victim sat drinking with his wheelchair bound father.
He was shot six times in front of shocked drinkers before the gunman fled the scene with an accomplice on a motorbike.
Cullen – a known criminal who has served time for drugs offences and attacking a female garda – knew his life was under "serious danger" ever since gardai seized over €50,000 of cannabis from him in January, 2007.
He had survived a previous attempt on his life last August.
But he was helpless to defend himself when a masked gunman burst into his local pub and riddled the father of one with bullets
"He either didn't want to, or was not able to, pay back the money that he owed to his former associates and they made no secret that they intended to kill him," said a source.
"Despite this he continued to live at his family home in Fassaugh Avenue which is actually located right beside the pub in which he was shot dead."
Gardai are working on the theory that the 26-year-old criminal was murdered by his own gang over a drugs debt.
Cullen was shot dead in front of his traumatised father who is confined to a wheelchair in the Cabra House Pub in north Dublin shortly after 7pm yesterday.
Cullen, who was warned by gardai that his life was in danger, previously survived a gun murder attempt at his Cabra home last August – just weeks after being released from prison where he served a lengthy sentence for serious drugs and assault offences.
The murder victim, along with his dad and other family members, were drinking in the pub when a gunman burst into the bar and shot him a number of times.
The gunman ran out of the bar before fleeing on a getaway bike which was driven by a man who stood outside the pub when the shooting happened.
It has emerged that on August 3 last year, gardai foiled an assassination attempt at Cullen's home when a garda car on routine patrol observed two young men armed with a handgun at the door of the property.
The duo "got spooked" when they saw the uniformed officers and fled the scene on a pushbike. They were never apprehended but gardai recovered a handgun close to the scene.
This incident led officers to give Cullen a formal warning that his life was under immediate threat but sources say that he did little to bolster his personal safety.
"This murder is very much a Cabra matter – it has to do with a dangerous gang operating in the Cabra area who would of course be linked to other north Dublin gangs," a source explained.
"When Cullen refused to pay up what he owed them, he became a target. It is as simple as that. The key to solving this lies in the Cabra community," the source added.
A known member of the Cabra gang who is currently locked up is Karl Hyland (26) who was jailed for five years in December, 2011, after he was caught test-firing handguns in his back garden.
Hyland pleaded guilty to possession of the weapons, including two handguns, a silencer and dozens of rounds of ammunition.
The gang also had links to slain mobsters Eamon 'The Don' Dunne and Richard Keogh who were shot dead in 2010 and 2009 respectively.
The scene of the shooting remained sealed off today pending a forensic examination by members of the garda technical bureau.
Directly outside the door of the pub a sheet of plastic was placed by gardai on the ground, covering potential evidence where it is believed the getaway rider had parked the motorbike used in the murder.
The pub is in the middle of a row of shops, all of which were closed this morning as they were within the garda cordon.
Paul Cullen's family home is just yards away on the opposite side of the road from the Cabra House pub where he was slain.
There was no answer at the terraced and recently refurbished property this morning.
Neighbours also declined to comment when approached.