Freddie Thompson has started school in Portlaoise and has regular contact with more prisoners, court told

Freddie Thompson has started school in Portlaoise and has regular contact with more prisoners, court told
File image of 'Freddie' Thompson

Convicted killer Frederick 'Freddie' Thompson is being allowed regular contact with four other prisoners and has started school at Portlaoise Prison, the High Court has been told.

Thompson has brought a High Court challenge over what he claims is the extremely oppressive and severe regime he claims he is being subjected to at the maximum security Portlaoise Prison.

39-year-old Thompson 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.

Thompson is currently serving his sentence in Wing A4 of Portlaoise Prison since March 2018, which is known as the punishment block.

He claims 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 claims that he is being denied regular exercise, fresh air and appropriate education which also amounts to a breach of his rights and of prison rules.

Thompson has brought proceedings against the Governor of Portlaoise Prison, the Irish Prison Service and the Minister for Justice aimed at ending his detention away from the mainstream prison population and better access to the prisons facilities.

The action was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Richard Humphreys on Wednesday's vacation sitting of the High Court.

Thompson's counsel Padraig Dwyer SC, appearing with Keith Spencer Bl said that the action which was brought last month was urgent, and it was hoped that it could be heard and determined as soon as possible.

John Gallagher Bl for the defendants told the court that a lot of the urgency had gone out of the case.

Counsel said Thompson had claimed that he could only associate with two other prisoners, but that has since the action was brought that number has doubled to four prisoners.

Counsel said that Thompson had also complained about his lack of access to the prison's educational facilities. Thompson has also started in the prison's school when the new term commenced earlier this month, counsel added.

The judge, after giving directions on how the case should proceed adjourned the matter to a date in October when it is hoped the full hearing of Thompson's action can take place.

The court previouly heard that Thompson claims his situation is unbearable and his mental health has been affected, and he is suffering from depression.

He claims that prior to his move 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.

In correspondence to Thompson's solicitors, the Governor and Irish Prison Service denied that Thompson prison regime is oppressive, and the regime meets all the statutory requirements.

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

They also say the Thompson requested relocation to his current location and that he cannot mix with certain other prisoners due to security issues.

However, in a sworn statement grounding his action, Thompson said that he had been informally told that his move to Portlaoise was due to a perceived feud with another prisoner Brian Rattigan.

He said that following his incarceration and before his transfer to Portlaoise, he met with Rattigan and says that there is no issue between them.

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