Fat Freddie Thompson makes shock claims Portlaoise Prison officers asked lag ‘to do damage’ to senior colleagues
- 12 Mar 2021, 10:30
- Updated: 12 Mar 2021, 11:16
A TD has called for a full investigation after telling the Dail three prison officers did not face any sanctions for “shocking” threats they made against senior colleagues.
It’s claimed the three guards approached a prisoner in Portlaoise Prison — home to many of the State’s most dangerous criminals — and asked them “to do damage” to an Assistant Chief Officer.
Gangland killer Fat Freddie Thompson — who is serving life for the murder of Daithi Douglas — is said to have raised the alarm through a complaint made to the Governor of the Co Laois jail.
His grievance was probed by John Naughton, an external investigator, and the findings passed to prison service management.
He concluded there were grounds for Thompson’s complaint and that the three junior grade officers made the remarks as part of a campaign to resist changes being implemented on A Block of the prison.
But the Dail yesterday heard that no action has been taken against the junior officers — despite the toll taken on the Assistant Chief Officer.
‘DO DAMAGE TO TOM’
Referring to him as “Tom”, Aontu leader Peadar Toibin told the Dail: “Tom worked within the Irish Prison Service as an Assistant Chief Officer, based in the A Block in Portlaoise Prison. This block houses some of the most notorious and dangerous prisoners in the country.
“Prisoners include the Kinahans, the Dundons and many more criminals who are household names. This is a high-pressured environment where violence and a threat to life is a real and constant concern for prison officers.
“It is alleged in October 2018 a prisoner came to the governor parade of Portlaoise and stated to the Governor that three officers were constantly coming into his cell and in his words, he said that he felt that they wanted him to do damage to Tom, the Assistant Chief Officer.
“There was a high-level meeting held afterwards between the Governors regarding what the prisoner said. However, it is alleged that no action was taken at all.
“Tom, who was the target of these words, alleged that he was advised to carry on working and wait until there was written complaint made before a course of action would be taken. Tom worked in this extremely pressurised environment for another 16 months until finally a prisoner made a Category A complaint.”
FAT FREDDIE ALLEGATIONS
A Category A compliant is the highest complaint that a person can make within the prison service.
The Dail heard jailed killer Fat Freddie’s allegations were backed up by some other lags and officers who worked in the prison’s A Block.
Deputy Toibin said the report showed there were grounds for Thompson’s complaint and that the three basic grade officers had made the remarks as part of a campaign to undermine senior officers’ work.
Toibin said: “A number of prison officers and prisoners, including Freddie Thompson, a convicted murder, were interviewed.
“Other prisoners confirmed what Thompson had alleged. They said: ‘Many prisoners can’t handle (these) situations and will turn to violence’.
“A Governor also gave evidence. He told the investigator that some of the initiatives he had introduced were subversively resisted by some of the prison officers.
“The three senior officers, the targets of the remarks, also gave evidence.”
FULL INVESTIGATION CALLS
One stated that on his arrival to the block one of the basic grade officers told him: ‘We do not like you. We did not send for you. We do not want you. You won’t be staying here. We will run you off of A Block’.
“Shockingly the independent Naughton report into the situation found that (it was) undeniable that some officers were making comments to deliberately undermine the work of senior officers.”
Furious Toibin added: “Following that report it is alleged that the staff members were not sanctioned. That they continued to work within the prison. And that the only action that was taken was that they would attend a workshop.”
As he raised the matter with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, Toibin called for a full investigation.
The Fine Gael leader said he wasn’t familiar with the report and pledged to raise the matter with Justice Minister Helen McEntee.
But Leo said: “I’m very sorry to hear about Tom’s experiences and the issues that you raise.”
Toibin said he had tried in vain to contact the Director General of the Irish Prison Service and had also asked the Justice Minister why no action had been taken.
He added: “I have followed up, as best I could, all the avenues that one would expect. But so far I have found doors have been blocked to me.”