Toronto's Eaton Centre mall following the June 4, 2012 shooting. The latest victim, along with the suspects in the shooting all had histories of criminal activity.
His freedom was short-lived.
Six months later, Nirmalendran was gunned down at the recent Eaton Centre rampage and his dreams of becoming a child and youth care worker died in a hail of bullets.
Defence lawyer Christopher Assie, who had represented Nirmalendran in the past, said Tuesday his former client was looking forward to "turning his life around" after making a series of "poor choices" that tarnished him with an unenviable criminal record.
It's been reported Ahmed Hassan, 24, who was killed in the June 2 food court shooting at Eaton Centre, was a fugitive wanted for serious crimes in Fort McMurray, Alta., and the accused gunman, Christopher Husbands, 23, was on house arrest for a sex assault charge.
Nirmalendran, also known as "Nix," is thought to have ties to the Sic Thugs, a Toronto street gang, and was in and out of jail for years.
He had robbed other teens with a pellet gun as an 18-year-old, "which sounds more nefarious than it really is," Assie said.
His criminal record also revealed the Sri Lankan immigrant also broke several bail conditions.
He was one credit shy of his high school diploma in late November or early December 2009 when he was busted for possession for the purposes of trafficking and breaching his bail.
Barely six weeks later, Phillip -- who had 25 criminal convictions and was back hoping to rule the jail range -- was beaten to death inside the Toronto jail.
Nirmalendran and others were charged with murdering the 24-year-old. Four others face trial next year.
Nirmalendran was convicted of his two unrelated offences and received a time served sentence of five months.
"He had no outstanding charges and wasn't serving any sentence - he just walked out as a free man," Assie said.
"If you got beyond the criminal record, there was a nice kid, who was always polite, had a good sense of humour."
Nirmalendran had already been accepted at Centennial College for the child and youth care worker program.
Meanwhile, Hassan, the other man killed in the Eaton Centre shooting, was busted on cocaine trafficking charges in January, 2010, in Fort McMurray, Alta., but he skipped town and fled to Toronto.
Hassan was also charged in Fort McMurray in 2008 with extortion using a firearm, unlawful confinement, robbery with a firearm, assault with a weapon, assault, uttering threats, unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of a restricted firearm.
As for Husbands, the alleged shooter, he was out on bail and under house arrest for a 2010 sex assault charge.
In 2008, he was nabbed with marijuana and more than $400 in cash and charged with drug trafficking. He later pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of simple possession.
Husbands will likely now face two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder for the mall shooting that has claimed two lives and wounded five innocent bystanders, including a 13-year-old Port Hope, ON, boy who was shot in the head and just released from Toronto's Sick Kids hospital Sunday.
Other than confirming Husbands, Hassan and Nirmalendran were believed to be involved in the same street gang and alleging the deadly mall attack was "personal" not "gang motivated," police have been tight-lipped about the motive for the Eaton Centre shooting.
However, the shooting may have been retribution for a theft in February in which Husbands was bound with duct tape, beaten, stabbed and robbed in a vacant Toronto apartment.