Officers told Freddie Thompson that superiors were 'idiots'

Officers told Freddie Thompson that superiors were 'idiots'

Gangland criminal Freddie Thompson raised the alarm when he made a complaint to the governor of Portlaoise Prison.

Three prison officers have been found to have made disparaging remarks about senior colleagues to some of the most dangerous criminals in the State.

Gangland criminal Freddie Thompson raised the alarm when he made a complaint to the governor of Portlaoise Prison.

The Irish Examiner has learned the three basic grade officers who were found to have been making the disparaging remarks have not faced any sanction. 

The complaint was investigated by John Naughton, an external investigator, and passed onto prison service management, and was not forwarded to the prison governor for another eight months.

Thompson, who is serving a life sentence for murder, told the investigator the three basic grade officers had told him and other prisoners that three senior officers were “fucking idiots” and “yes men” who couldn’t be believed”. 

Thompson said these comments were very damaging to one of the senior officers in particular and “may put his life in danger if prisoners were to believe that he was lying to them and could not be believed,” according to documents seen by the Irish Examiner.

His allegations were backed up by other prisoners and officers who worked in A Block in Portlaoise, which houses some of the State's most dangerous criminals.

Another inmate told the investigator a prisoner’s senses are heightened behind bars and if officers play mind games with prisoners, it can be very dangerous.

One of the three senior officers told the investigator that he remembered that soon after arriving on the block, one of the basic rank officers told him: “We do not like you, we did not send for you, we do not want you, you won’t be staying, we will run you out of the A Block.” 

The external investigator interviewed prisoners, prison officers, and governors and examined all the documentary evidence. Some of the prisoners backed up Thompson’s allegations but others said they were unaware of it. 

One senior officer who worked on the block told the investigator that she believed the disparaging remarks had been made. The governor at the time John Farrell told the investigator that he had been aware of attempts to undermine changes he was bringing in.

All three of the basic grade officers denied resisting change or making disparaging comments about their colleagues.

The investigator concluded there were grounds for Thompson’s complaint and that the three basic grade officers had made the remarks as part of a campaign to resist changes being implemented on the block. 

A question submitted to the IPS about the eight month delay in passing on the investigator’s report was not addressed in a statement issued to the Irish Examiner. The prison service said that it does not comment on individual complaints in the system.

One of the three senior officers who was targeted has been out of work since last March on stress-related illness. He is taking legal action against the prison service. A second is back at work, while the other has since been promoted.

Sources in the prison system have described the outcome “off the richter scale” in terms of the conduct of the three officers and the absence of any serious response to the findings.

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