Killer Freddie Thompson sues state for denial of legal aid

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Gangland killer Freddie Thompson has taken legal action against the state after being denied free legal aid for a case in which he resumed his conditions of detention.

Hompson (41), who is serving a life sentence for his involvement in a murder during the Hutch-Kinahan feud, sued the governor of Portlaoise prison two years ago after being placed in a block isolation for security reasons.

He claimed his regime was “extremely oppressive” and “harsh”, but withdrew the case when prison authorities returned him to the traditional prison population.

The judge in this case, Justice Charles Meenan, recommended that the costs of two attorneys and one lawyer for Thompson be covered by the Legal Aid Custody Issues Scheme.

However, the Legal Aid Council subsequently refused to cover the costs of the scheme on March 5.

A lawsuit challenging that decision was initiated by Thompson on Monday.

He is asking for leave to initiate judicial review proceedings against the Legal Aid Commission. The attorney general and the state are also co-accused in this case.

Thompson argues that if the Legal Aid Council is correct in believing that the scheme did not cover inmates’ claims challenging the legality of their conditions of detention, then the scheme is flawed and does not defend constitutional rights.

The case was briefly raised before Judge Meenan on Monday.

Thompson’s attorney Micheál P O’Higgins said it had not been possible to get an affidavit from his client as no prison visits were currently allowed due to Covid-19 restrictions .

Judge Meenan allowed Thompson’s attorneys Niall O’Connor & Co to file a verification affidavit instead. The case will return to court next week.

Thompson, with an address in 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 multiple times at a shoe store in The Liberties in July 2016.

Douglas was the tenth victim of the bloody Hutch-Kinahan feud. Thompson had denied the accusation.

The prosecution did not suggest that Thompson was the person who fired the shots, but alleged that he was one of those involved.

The trial heard he was driving a Ford Fiesta intimately involved in the murder plot. The car was seen interacting with other vehicles and individuals involved the morning before the shooting.

He also walked past the shoe store four minutes before the murder in what a judge described as a “final check” before the shooter arrived.

Thompson has also been linked to an earlier feud involving gangs in Crumlin and Drimnagh which left several dead.

In his previous trial, Thompson claimed to have been held for 18 months in the A4 wing of Portlaoise prison, also known as the disciplinary block.

The court heard that Thompson’s prison regime arose out of “security concerns.” However, Brian Rattigan, a rival criminal also incarcerated in Portlaoise, has sworn an affidavit in support of Thompson’s request to be released from solitary confinement.

Rattigan said he believed there was “no bad blood” between him and Thompson.

He claimed that relations between the two were good, that they had long conversations in prison, that their families had met and that they posed no security threats to each other.

In his action, Thompson had called for various orders, including one ending his detention away from the mainstream prison population and another calling for better access to prison facilities.

He also claimed that his human rights had been violated because he was only allowed to come into contact with two other prisoners and spent most of his time being “locked” in his cell.

He further claimed that he was denied regular exercise, fresh air and proper education and that the situation was unbearable and affected his mental health.

However, he dropped the case when he was transferred out of the A4 wing.

The court heard that the prison authorities had not admitted that the move was procedural. They had denied his allegations.

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