Lawyers for 'Freddie' Thompson say evidence not strong enough for murder conviction

By Alison O’Riordan

Lawyers for Frederick ‘Freddie’ Thompson, who is accused of the murder of David Douglas, have asked the Special Criminal Court to direct a not guilty verdict, on the basis that the evidence against him is not strong enough.

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 1, 2016 on Bridgefoot Street in the south inner city.

The prosecution closed its case two weeks ago at the three-judge, non-jury court.

The 10-day trial 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.

The prosecution does not argue that Mr Thompson carried out the actual shooting. However, the court has 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.

The prosecution case is that four vehicles and their occupants were operating in concert on the day and the court has seen CCTV footage of their movements.

These included the “ultimate murder vehicle”, the Mercedes that transported the shooter to and from the scene and the other three vehicles which included a Ford Fiesta, Mitsubishi Mirage and a Suzuki Swift.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for the accused man, submitted to the court today that there were very few pieces of evidence in the case and there was "no forensic connection" between his client and two of the cars which were "unquestionably involved in the crime", the Suzuki Swift and Mercedes.

The State’s case is that two finger marks belonging to the accused were on the rear-view mirror of the blue Mirage and that two of his finger marks were found on a card in its glove box.

Mr Thompson’s finger mark was also found on the internal rear view mirror of the Fiesta. DNA matching Mr Thompson’s was found on an inhaler in the blue Mitsubishi as well as on an air freshener and hand sanitiser in the Fiesta.

Referring to these findings, Mr O’Higgins said these were not “temporal connections.”

He said that CCTV footage which the prosecution allege show Mr Thompson in the car is “a blur” and “fundamentally flawed”. There is a multiplicity of drivers driving at different times and there can be no safe assumption, he said.

Counsel also called into question the manner in which the investigating Gardaí viewed the CCTV footage to arrive at their conclusion that Mr Thompson was in the car. Mr O’Higgins said that this case stands or falls on the identification evidence, which he said was “contaminated” in the case.

The barrister said telephone evidence was the vital piece of missing evidence in the case. He said there were no text messages indicating that the murder should proceed nor evidence of calls to other parties.

In relation to a claim by the prosecution that Mr Thompson is seen on CCTV footage breaking up a device which they say is a mobile phone or part of a phone, Mr O’Higgins called this “speculation”.

Part of the prosecution's case is that Mr Thompson was seen having a meal with others believed to be involved in the murder later that evening after Mr Douglas was shot. Mr O’Higgins said this was “stretching common design to the n’th degree.”

In reply, prosecution counsel Sean Gillane SC said he was resisting the application and asked the court not to treat the events in isolation but to look at the combined evidence.

“This is a case where to treat some of these matters as coincidence would be an affront to common sense,” he said.

Mr Gillane said that while Mr O’Higgins submitted to the court that there were two vehicles involved in the murder of Mr Douglas, the prosecution case is that there are “unquestionably” four vehicles involved.

He said it was an event that required a significant amount of planning and logistic support.

“My case is that all four vehicles were as important as the gun used in this murder, the question to be determined is was there a joint enterprise and was Mr Thompson a part of that? I’m asking the court to take a cumulative approach,” he said.

Mr Gillane said there was undoubtedly enough evidence before the court to consider whether Mr Thompson was guilty of murder.

Earlier, defence counsel Mr O’Higgins called Detective Inspector John Walsh to give evidence. The witness confirmed that he stopped Mr Thompson’s car in Rialto in 2005 and as he approached the car the accused took his SIM card from his phone and proceeded to chew it.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Flann Brennan, said the court will rule on the application tomorrow.

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