Killer Freddie Thompson suing State over refusal of legal aid
June 30 2021 02:30 AM
Gangland killer Freddie Thompson has begun a High Court action against the State after being refused free legal aid for a case he took over his prison conditions.
Thompson (41), who is serving life for his involvement in a murder during the Hutch-Kinahan feud, sued the governor of Portlaoise Prison two years ago after he was placed in an isolation block for security reasons.
He claimed his regime was “extremely oppressive” and “severe” but withdrew the case when prison authorities returned him to the mainstream jail population.
The judge handling that case, Mr Justice Charles Meenan, made a recommendation that the costs of two counsel and a solicitor for Thompson be covered by the Legal Aid Custody Issues Scheme.
A lawsuit challenging this decision was initiated by Thompson on Monday.
However, the Legal Aid Board subsequently refused to cover the costs under the scheme last March 5.
He is seeking leave to bring judicial review proceedings against the Legal Aid Board. The Attorney General and the State are also co-defendants in the case.
Thompson argues that if the Legal Aid Board is correct in its view that the scheme did not cover applications by inmates challenging the lawfulness of their prison conditions, then the scheme is deficient and does not vindicate constitutional rights.
The case was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Meenan on Monday.
Thompson’s counsel, Micheál P O’Higgins, said it had not been possible to get an affidavit from his client as no visits to the prison were currently allowed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr Justice Meenan gave leave for Thompson’s solicitors, Niall O’Connor & Co, to file a verifying affidavit instead. The matter will return to the court next week.
Thompson, with an address at Loreto Road, Maryland, Dublin, was jailed for life by the Special Criminal Court in 2018 for the murder of David Douglas (55), who was shot several times in a shoe shop in The Liberties in July 2016.
Douglas was the tenth victim of the bloody Hutch-Kinahan feud. Thompson had denied the charge.
The prosecution did not suggest Thompson was the person who fired the shots, but alleged he was one of the people involved.
The trial heard he drove a Ford Fiesta intricately involved in the murder plot. The car was seen interacting with other vehicles and individuals involved on the morning before the shooting.
It also drove past the shoe shop four minutes before the murder in what a judge described as a “final check” before the gunman arrived.
Thompson was also associated with an earlier feud involving gangs in Crumlin and Drimnagh that claimed several lives.
In his previous lawsuit, Thompson claimed to have been detained for 18 months in Portlaoise Prison’s A4- wing, also known as the punishment block.
The court heard Thompson’s prison regime derived from “security concerns”. However, Brian Rattigan, a rival criminal also incarcerated in Portlaoise, swore an affidavit in support of Thompson’s bid to be freed from isolation.
Rattigan said he believed there was “no bad blood” between him and Thompson.
He claimed relations between the two were good, that they have had long conversations in prison, that their families had met and that they posed no security threat to each other.
In his action, Thompson had sought various orders including one ending his detention away from the mainstream prison population and another order seeking better access to the prison’s facilities.
He also claimed his human rights had been breached as he was only allowed contact with two other prisoners and spent most of his time effectively on “lock-up” in his cell.
He further claimed he was denied regular exercise, fresh air and appropriate education and that the situation was unbearable and affecting his mental health.
However, he dropped the case when he was moved out of the A4-wing.
The court heard prison authorities had not admitted the move was related to the proceedings. They had denied his claims.