Brian Rattigan winks at the press cameras last Thursday outside the High Court where he was found guilty of the murder of Declan Gavin

Brian Rattigan was born on 20 July 1980 and has spent the majority of his life living at the family home on Cooley Road in Drimnagh. The three-bedroom Corporation house was shared with his mother Christine 'Dinah', brothers Joseph and Ritchie, and sister Sharon. Joseph was murdered in 2002 as part of the feud and in retaliation for the Declan Gavin killing.

Rattigan is involved in a long-term relationship with 26-year-old Natasha McEnroe, who has stood by him even though he has been in jail for the last six years. She regularly visits him in Portlaoise, where he is held on the maximum security E1 landing with some of the country's most notoriouis criminals. McEnroe was arrested as part of the Gavin murder investigation and told gardaí the dead man was "only a rat". She said her only regret about the murder was that someone "should have got a motorbike and done it right. I hated him." She has vowed to wait for Rattigan, despite the fact he will not be released for at least another 15 years. Rattigan previously worked with a builders' providers company and as a labourer on road building projects, but he was unemployed since his release from prison in 2001 after serving a sentence for assault.

Despite being one of the country's most serious criminals, the guilty verdict in the Gavin murder case was only his seventh criminal conviction. However, they have all been for serious offences, including a six-year term for possession of €27,000 worth of heroin in May 2003. He is currently serving this sentence.

The other convictions have all involved him using considerable violence. In April 2001, two months after the Gavin murder, he was convicted of two counts of assault causing harm at Trim Circuit Court. These convictions relate to an incident which occurred in Navan in June 1999 during which he beat two youths with a sewer rod and a bottle causing both serious head injuries. One of them required 24 stitches and the other needed 30 stitches and a blood transfusion.

Fondness for violence

In February 2004, Rattigan was jailed for four years after firing five bullets from a shotgun at a garda car. The then 23-year-old pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with the intention of causing harm and resisting arrest during the incident in February 2003 at Bluebell Road. When he was confronted by detective garda Jim Matthews, who was attempting to arrest him, Rattigan fired at his garda car, which led to the detective firing a warning shot in the air. He was later sentenced to four-and-a-half years for this offence.

In April 2005, Rattigan was convicted of assault causing serious harm, violent disorder and attempting to unlawfully seize a vehicle in April 2000. Rattigan attacked a taxi driver after he failed to stop to pick him up. He ran after the moving car and pulled the driver by the hair and viciously beat him. The judge called him a "very dangerous young man".

Rattigan's fondness for violence is well known and he has a quick temper. In February 2002, Brian and Joey Rattigan had words with two brothers after a family night out in the north inner city. A man intervened and was viciously attacked by Brian Rattigan and required 80 stitches to his head. Rattigan produced a black revolver during the altercation and this was later recovered by gardaí.

Rattigan was lucky to escape death during a failed murder attempt on 17 March 2002. He was at home at 4am when Paddy Doyle and Freddie Thompson kicked down Rattigan's door and made their way into the bedroom. Doyle shot him at point blank range. The bullet struck Rattigan's stomach and he lost a kidney as a result. His girlfriend identified Thompson as the shooter but the DPP directed there be no prosecution. Later, in retaliation, Rattigan is suspected of carrying out a drive-by shooting on Judge Darley's pub where rival gang members were drinking.

Although Rattigan has been in jail for six years, he continues to run his criminal empire from behind bars and is suspected of orchestrating murders from the comfort of his cell. While he heads the drugs gang involved in the feud with Freddie Thompson, he has been in jail while the majority of the 16 feud murders have occurred. Nine of the victims were in his gang. He was found in possession of a mobile phone in the Midlands jail two years ago. It contained pictures of the Paul Warren murder scene which gardaí suspect were sent to him by criminal associates.

Sources say despite his incarceration, he continues to make all the day-to-day decisions. In prison, he is regarded as one of the "hard men" in the jail and enjoys a comfortable lifestyle. He had a pet budgie, Shrek, until last year when it was seized during a search of the jail. He also previously had a flatscreen TV in his cell. He has been taking steroids for the past number of years and has the physique of a body builder. When he had his mobile phone he took many pictures of himself. While serving his sentence, Rattigan forged alliances with the Keane/Collopy gang in Limerick through his friendship with Christy Keane, who was released earlier this year after serving a drugs sentence. Gardaí believe Limerick criminals have carried out shootings in Dublin on behalf of the Rattigan gang and vice-versa.

Influence has waned

Notorious criminal Liam Keane spent several months living in Crumlin two years ago after his life was threatened in Limerick. The ties between Rattigan and the Keanes were clearly evident on 21 April 2007. Rattigan's partner Natasha McEnroe was in a pub in Crumlin and Liam Keane was present. A row occurred outside the pub and Keane went to his car and produced a handgun. Gardaí were called although the weapon was never recovered. Graffiti started to appear claiming Keane and Natasha McEnroe were having an affair, but it is believed the Freddie Thompson gang was responsible in an attempt to split Rattigan and Keane's working relationship.

Though he has been in prison for a long time, Rattigan continues to enjoy the fierce loyalty of his gang, of which there are up to 40 direct and indirect members. He will now serve a mandatory life sentence for the Declan Gavin murder, but it is unlikely his influence on his gang will lessen. Though, as most of his key associates have either been murdered or jailed, his gang's influence has waned considerably and there have been few feud incidents in the past four months.