Criminal supports fellow gangland convict over detention at Portlaoise Prison

Court Reporter

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Court Reporter

freddie thompson brian rattigan portlaoise prison

Portlaoise Prison

Convicted criminal Brian Rattigan has made a sworn statement in support of another gangland figure Freddie Thompson who is challenging the Irish Prison Services detention of him in the punishment block of Portlaoise Prison.

Rattigan has said that there is "no bad blood" between him and fellow Portlaoise Prison inmate. He says that relations between the two are good, that they have had long conversations in prison, and that their families have met.

Rattigan also says that the two are now housed together in the same wing in the maximum security Portlaoise Prison and pose no security threat to each other.

Rattigan's comments are contained in a statement sworn in support of Thompson's High Court challenge against the prison authorities over what he claims are the oppressive conditions of his detention over the last 18 months in Portlaoise Prison's A-wing.

Rattigan's statement confirms what Thompson said in an earlier statement grounding his High Court judicial review proceedings against the Prison Service, the Prison Governor and the Minister for Justice. 

The respondents have opposed Thompson's action and the High Court has previously heard that his current prison regime derives from "security concerns."

Thompson's case was due to be heard by the High Court earlier this month but was adjourned after his lawyers sought additional time to consider submissions made by the State respondents.

The case returned before the High Court on Tuesday Keith Spencer Bl for Thompson told Mr Justice Seamus Noonan that it is his side's case that Brian Rattigan's statement renders the respondent's case "untenable".

As a result, the case could be adjourned to a date next month, rather than have a new hearing date fixed counsel said.

In his sworn statement Brian Rattigan, aged 39, said that he has been in prison on and off since 2003 and that from experience the restricted prison regime that Thompson is under is inhumane by comparison to incarnation within the general prison population.

Rattigan, who says he is due for release in 2021 said that any notion that Thompson cannot be moved out of the punishment block in Portlaoise because "I represent a threat to him or that we are a threat to each other is false".

Housing them in the same block, he said would not create any tension or security concern.  He added that keeping Thompson under the regime for 18 months was far too long a period for anyone to endure.

Rattigan, who has convictions for manslaughter and possession of drugs for sale and supply adds that after being in prison for so long he hopes that the Irish Prison Service will comply with their obligations to reintegrate him into society.

He hopes to be moved to an open prison or given intermittent temporary release before he is released. He added that the wants to "lead a law-abiding life upon my release and am committed to never returning to prison."

"I am now 39 years of age and I have spent most of my life in prison, and I will not do anything to extend my time in prison or jeopardise my release date. Regardless of what people may think I am a changed man," he said.

Thompson, aged 39, from Dublin's South inner city is serving a life sentence he received last year following his conviction at the Special Criminal Court for the murder of David Douglas in 2016.

He has been detained in Wing A4 since March 2018, which is known as the punishment block.

He claimed that in breach of his human rights he is only allowed contact with two other prisoners, and spends most of his time effectively on "lock-up" in his cell.

He also claimed that he is being denied regular exercise, fresh air and appropriate education.

Thompson's action is aimed at ending his detention away from the mainstream prison population and getting better access to the prison's facilities.

Thompson claims his situation is unbearable and his mental health has been affected, and he is suffering from depression.

He claims that before being transferred to Portlaoise Prison he had always been housed within the general prison population. He also claims that he is being treated differently to other prisoners serving life sentences. 

The respondents deny that Thompson's prison regime is oppressive. 

They say that since the action was launched Thompson now has access to four other prisoners and started at the prison's school in September.

They also say Thompson has been provided with better access to facilities including the gym, recreation, open-air exercise and other services.