POLICE have charged a man with murder after a “career criminal” was gunned down in a “targeted” Valentine’s Day shooting this year.

Nathan Costello was gunned down in a cold-blooded drive-by attack in Unanderra in Wollongong, NSW where he fell on a nature strip and died, despite police officers’ attempts to revive him.

After months of combing the scene for evidence, police a stopped 33-year-old Matthew Spinks driving a car at Warrawong and this morning they charged him with Costello’s murder.

Police have previously said Costello, also 33 at the time of his death, was known to them as a “career criminal” and had an appalling criminal record.

According to documents seen by the Illawarra Mercury, he smothered his partner with a pillow, slammed her head into concrete, terrorised her with knives and forced her to jump out of a motel window with him and hide in bushes to avoid police in November, 2012.

After a string of violent offences including stabbing his neighbour with a screwdriver three times as a teenager, Costello reportedly told Wollongong District Court his life got so bad that he was committing crime just to go back to the safety of jail.

Police were called to Unanderra on Valentine’s Day this year where Costello was found with a gunshot wound.

Residents described how they were woken by the sound of gunshots and saw a woman with blood on her shirt.

“It was obvious they couldn’t rescue him because the ambos didn’t move after arriving,” he told the Mercury.

“I saw a woman, I’m guessing a family member; she had blood all over her shirt, so she must have found him in the first place.”

Another neighbour said he heard a car engine idling in the street and then “four bangs”.

“Bang, bang, bang, bang — and then … the car went, that’s all I heard,” he said.

Shortly after the arrest yesterday, NSW Police’s Strike Force Gangele detectives executed a search warrant at a home at Koonawarra, Wollongong, where they seized a number of items relevant to the investigation.

Spinks was taken to Lake Illawarra Police Station and charged with murder.

He appeared briefly in Wollongong Local Court on Friday morning where he did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.

“Investigations under Strike Force Gangele are continuing and further arrests are expected,” a NSW Police spokeswoman said.