Thursday 24 May 2018

Freddie Thompson murder trial: Witnesses tell court they saw 'getaway car' being set alight

Freddie Thompson and (inset) David Douglas
Freddie Thompson and (inset) David Douglas

Natasha Reid

Witnesses have told the Frederick "Freddie" Thompson murder trial that they saw one of the four cars allegedly used in the killing repeatedly crashing into another of the cars before one of the occupants set the second car alight.

The man and woman gave the evidence to the Special Criminal Court today on the third day of the 37-year-old’s trial for the murder of a Dublin shoe shop manager.

Mr Thompson, 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 55-year-old was shot dead shortly after 4pm, as he ate a curry in his partner’s shoe shop, Shoestown. He was shot six times to the head, neck and throat. 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 physical act of killing, but the three judges will be asked to infer that one of the ‘many fingers on the trigger’ was that of the accused.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, explained the prosecution case in his opening speech to the non-jury court on Wednesday. He said that four vehicles and their occupants, including Mr Thompson, were operating in concert that day.

The court yesterday heard from two people, who witnessed an incident between two of those cars a few days later.

Deivydas Kukanavza testified that he was in a car with his then girlfriend on the Strand Road in the city on the night of the 4th of July. He told Mr Gillane that they were sitting facing the sea, when a Mitsubishi car appeared and hit the silver car that was parked behind them.

"It reversed and went in again," he said, confirming that the Mitsubishi hit the silver car about three times.

Mr Kukanavza got out of his car.

"There was a fella and he was holding a petrol can. Then he just poured around the (silver) car, the petrol," he said.

"I asked him what’s going on. He didn’t answer me," he said.

He recalled that the man then ‘lit it’ with a lighter, before running back to the Mitsubishi, which drove off ‘fast’.

Mr Kukanavza said he poured liquid on the flames and waited for the gardai.

Iveta Sutkote told Mr Gillane that she also saw the Mitsubishi ‘trying to smash’ the unoccupied silver car.

"The Mitsubishi was very fast, going in sideways," she said, recalling that she had asked her then-boyfriend to get out.

"I thought that somebody might have left the car and went for a walk," she explained.

She said there were two or three men in the Mitsubishi.

"The third guy just came out of the car and just poured petrol on the car. He had a hood on."

"I asked him what he was doing," she said. "He had the canister and poured the petrol on.

"He tried to light it up. He did light it up and it was on fire. He just ran. He jumped in the car."

She said that the Mitsubishi had a 99 TS registration and confirmed that she had noted down the full registration number and given it to the gardai that night.

She identified both cars from crime scene photographs for the judges.

The court heard on Thursday that the Mitsubishi was pursued and stopped by gardai shortly afterwards. There was a smell of petrol from the interior and the two occupants, who are not before the court, were arrested for criminal damage.

The court also heard that Mr Thompson’s fingerprints were found inside.

Mr Gillane described the silver car burnt on Strand Road as ‘the ultimate getaway car’ in his opening speech. The Suzuki Swift had been stolen from Greystones a couple of weeks earlier.

He said the occupants of ‘the ultimate murder vehicle’, a stolen Mercedes, had transferred to the Suzuki minutes after the killing. The driver of the Mercedes had set his trousers on fire in an attempt to burn the Mercedes, which had brought the shooter to and from the scene.

The trial continues on Tuesday before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding with Judge Flannan Brennan and Judge Gerard Griffin.

Evidence

Yesterday, the trial heard that his fingerprints were found in two cars that the prosecution says are linked to the killing.

Detective Garda Raymond Kane of the Garda Fingerprint Section testified yesterday that he analysed a number of finger and palm marks developed from the four cars.

He told Mr Gillane that he had no doubt that two marks developed from a birthday card found in a blue Mitsubishi Mirage were made by the accused.

He also had no doubt that two marks found on that car’s rear-view mirror were made by Mr Thompson.

He found a further match in another car, a silver Ford Fiesta, and said he had no doubt that Mr Thompson had made the mark found on that car’s rear-view mirror.

The court also heard from Garda Ronan Lawlor of the Garda Ballistics Section, who testified that he examined a number of the vehicles.

He told Mr Gillane that among the items recovered were a parking ticket and an inhaler.

Under cross examination by Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, he agreed that the inhaler was perfectly visible with other items on the passenger floor area of the blue Mirage.

He agreed that, if one was involved in criminal activity and left something like that behind, it could be ‘a bit like a beacon’ in connecting that person to the vehicle.

"But not much assistance as to when the inhaler was thrown there?2 he asked.

"Correct," replied Gda Lawlor.

Mr O’Higgins then informed the court that there was a finger mark on the parking ticket, but that it was not his client’s.

Justice Tony Hunt remarked that he didn’t think he would be emphasising it if it was.

"But, we are emphasising that it’s our DNA on the inhaler," said Mr O’Higgins.

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