By Natasha Reid
Judges at the Special Criminal Court have described as bordering on the ‘absurd’ claims that Frederick ‘Freddie’ Thompson had a constitutional right to privacy when captured on CCTV cameras around the city that day.
They were delivering their ruling on a defence application to exclude private CCTV footage.
The 37-year-old, with an address at Loreto Road, Maryland in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of David Douglas on July 1st, 2016 on Bridgefoot Street in the city.
The non-jury court has heard that the 55-year-old was shot six times shortly after 4pm, as he took a meal break at the counter in his partner’s shop, Shoestown. A semi-automatic pistol with its serial number removed was found next to his head.
Michael O’Higgins SC argued that this and other footage of his client in a restaurant breached his right to privacy, as it was obtained unlawfully by property owners, who had not registered their systems with the Data protection Commissioner.
Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said that he and his colleagues did not accept that the nature of the activities that the State sought to associate with the accused could give rise to any expectation of privacy on his part.
“Such claims border on the absurd,” he said.
He said the cameras had done no more than eye witnesses.
He said that the facts of this case, even taken at their highest, fell far short of engaging the constitutional right to privacy, never mind excluding evidence.
“If it should turn out that the CCTV implicates Mr Thompson, he is not entitled to call in aid the provisions he invokes to cover his tracks,” he said.
He added that, if acquitted, he could pursue any alleged breaches of his privacy rights through other channels.
“We reject the notion that any or all of the CCTV evidence should be ruled inadmissible,” he concluded.
The court later heard that Frederick ‘Freddie’ Thompson made ‘no comment’ to gardai when asked to account for his being in two alleged ‘spotter’ cars on the day he’s accused of the murder of a Dublin shoe shop manager.
Mr Thompson had been warned that the court could draw inferences from his failure to give an account, and that this could be used as corroboration of other evidence.
The prosecution does not argue that Mr Thompson carried out the actual shooting. However, the three judges have heard that his DNA was found in two alleged ‘spotter’ cars used in the shooting, and detectives also identified him in CCTV footage as the driver of one of the cars.
Detective Sergeant Sean O'Brien of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation testified today that he interviewed the accused following his arrest in November that year.
The court had heard that nothing of evidential value had arisen in Mr Thompson’s first few interviews and that he had then been told that inference provisions would be invoked.
D Sgt O'Brien said he explained to him that inferences could now be drawn from his failure or refusal to explain matters under Sections 18 and 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984, as amended by Section 28 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007.
The sergeant agreed with Tony McGillicuddy SC, prosecuting, that he’d explained that he could not be convicted solely on such inferences being drawn, but that this could be used as corroboration of other evidence.
He was then told that the gardai believed that his possession of a silver Ford Fiesta on the morning of the killing in the immediate vicinity of the Mercedes later used in the shooting might be attributable to his participation in the murder.
He was asked to account for this and replied: ‘No comment at this time’.
He gave the same answer when asked to account for his possession of the same car on Meath Street immediately prior to the murder.
He was then asked to account for his possession of the key to the Fiesta at that time. It was put to him that CCTV footage showed him giving it to a named female on Meath Street. He again replied: ‘No comment at this time’.
He gave the same reply when asked to account for his possession of ‘a mobile phone, which was broken up and disassembled’ by him on the same occasion.
He was also asked to account for his DNA being found on an air freshener and hand sanitiser in this car and again replied: ‘No comment’.
He was questioned about being in a blue Mitsubishi Mirage at the entrance to a car park near St Stephen’s Green that evening and about his DNA being on an inhaler found in that car. He again replied: ‘No comment’.
He gave the same reply when asked about his fingerprint being found on the rearview mirror of each car and on a birthday card found in the Mitsubishi.
The trial continues before Justice Hunt, presiding, with Judge Flannan Brennan and Judge Gerard Griffin.