09 Aug 2022

Gangland criminal drops case against 'severe' Portlaoise Prison

Portlaoise Prison

Portlaoise Prison

Convicted killer Frederick 'Freddie' Thompson has withdrawn his High Court challenge over being subjected to an "extremely oppressive" and "severe" regime at Portlaoise Prison.

The withdrawal came after Thompson was moved by the prison authorities from the isolation block and placed with the mainstream prison population. 

Thompson (39) from Dublin's south inner city is serving a life sentence he received last year following his conviction for the murder of David Douglas in 2016.

Thompson brought a High Court challenge against the prison authorities over what he claimed were the oppressive conditions of his detention over the last 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 the High Court has previously heard that his prison regime derived from "security concerns."

Thompon's action, which was launched last August, had been before the courts on several occasions.

It returned before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Tuesday, who was informed by Padraig Dwyer SC, appearing with Keith Spencer Bl for Thompson, that the case could be withdrawn.

Counsel said this was because his client had been moved from the A4 wing in the last 24 hours. However, the defendants had not admitted that Thompson's move was related to the High Court proceedings.

Given his client's transfer counsel said the action was not going ahead and could be struck out.

In regards to the costs of the action, where significant issues of law had been raised, counsel said he was seeking a recommendation under the Legal Aid Custody Scheme for two counsel and a solicitor.  

The state said it was adopting a neutral stance on that application.

Mr Justice Meenan said he was satisfied, given the circumstances of the case, to make the recommendation sought. 

In his action, Thompson had sought various orders including one ending his detention away from the mainstream prison population and getting better access to the prison's facilities.

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

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

Thompson claimed his situation was unbearable and his mental health has been affected.

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

He claimed that he had been placed in the punishment block due to security concerns, which he rejected.

As part of his action, both Thompson and fellow convicted criminal Brian Rattigan swore statements saying that they that there was no bad blood between them.

Both men said they had met each other in the prison and they posed no security threat to each other.

The court also previously heard that the respondents all denied that Thompson's prison regime was oppressive. 

They said that after the action was launched Thompson was given access to four other prisoners and that he had started at the prison's school in September.

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

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