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File photo. Freddie Thompson.
High Court

Freddie Thompson takes legal action over his Limerick Prison detention

Thompson has claimed he has not been informed why he was moved or if he has been put there as a disciplinary sanction.

CONVICTED MURDERER FREDDIE Thompson has brought High Court action over the prison authorities’ alleged failure to respond to questions about the conditions of his detention in Limerick Prison.

Thompson, who is from Dublin’s south inner city, received a life sentence in 2018 after he was found guilty at the Special Criminal Court of the murder of David Douglas in 2016.

Thompson claims he is being detained in conditions that amount to a “punishment”.

He claims that as soon as arrived in Limerick Prison he was confined to a padded cell, without his clothing or personal items and isolated from other prisoners.

Thompson, also known as ‘Fat Freddie’, also claims he has not been informed by the authorities why he was moved or if he has been put there as a disciplinary sanction.

He further claims that the authorities have refused to answer questions about the conditions of his current detention raised by his solicitors.

Represented by Patrick Gageby SC, appearing with John Berry Bl, Thompson claims that up until 9 October last, he had been detained at Portlaoise Prison.

In 2019 he made formal complaints to the Prison Authorities about the conduct of some prison officers in Portlaoise towards him.

Thompson claims that those complaints were upheld in a report compiled by the person who investigated his allegations.

However, Thompson claims that neither he nor his solicitor have been given a copy of the investigator’s report.

After he made the complaints, he claims that he was subjected to further mistreatment at the hands of prison officers in Portlaoise.

He made a further complaint in April 2021 over incidents including that he was deprived of sleep at night due to banging on his cell door.

He also claims that he was denied access to newspapers, that his dietary requirements were ignored and that his cell was the subject of overly frequent searches by prison officers.

Last month Thompson was transferred to Limerick, where he claims he was placed in a padded cell and deprived of his clothing.

He further claims he was told he would be in Limerick for six weeks, but says he has been given no reason why he had been transferred or why it was for a determinate period.

He claims that his detention in Limerick amounts to a punishment, but says he was not the subject of any disciplinary hearing, nor provided with any paperwork informing him that a sanction has been imposed on him.

Arising out of his alleged treatment in Limerick Prison Thompson’s solicitor has sought certain documents and details regarding their client’s detention from the prison authorities.

No response has been received, it is also claimed.

Thompson’s lawyers claim their client is entitled to responses to significant questions raised about the conditions of his detention.

The failure to provide them in a timely fashion, is contrary to law and contrary to the Prison Rules and the requirements of justice.

It is further alleged that the failure to update Thompson on the status of the complaints he made is contrary to natural justice, fair procedures, and amounts to an error of law.

Arising out of his detention Thompson has brought judicial review proceedings against the Governors of Limerick and Portlaoise Prisons, the Irish Prison Service and the Minister for Justice.

He seeks an order compelling the respondents to reply to questions made by him regarding the manner of his detention.

He also seeks various declarations including that the respondents have duty under law to respond when concerns are raised about the manner of a prisoner’s detention.

The mater came before Mr Justice Anthony Barr, who on an ex-parte basis, granted Thompson permission to bring the action.

The matter was adjourned and will be mentioned before the court in late December.

The action is not the first time Thompson has brought a High Court challenge over the conditions of his detention.

In 2019 Thompson brought High Court proceedings against the prison authorities over what he claimed were the oppressive conditions of his detention for some 18 months in Portlaoise Prison’s A4-wing, which is known as the punishment block.

The Prison Service, the Prison Governor and the Minister for Justice opposed Thompson’s action and said his then prison regime was due to “security concerns.”

That claim was eventually withdrawal in November 2019 after Thompson was moved by the prison authorities from the isolation block and placed with the mainstream prison population.

The respondents did not accept that the move came about due to Thompson’s legal action.

Aodhan O Faolain