Saturday 26 May 2018

State closes its case in Freddie Thompson murder trial

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

Eimear Cotter

THE STATE has closed its case in the trial of Freddie Thompson for the murder of David ‘Daithi’ Douglas.

Mr Thompson (37) has denied the murder of Mr Douglas (55), who was shot six times in his partner’s shop at Bridgefoot Street, Dublin 8 on July 1, 2016.

It is the prosecution case that Mr Thompson, with an address at Loreto Road, Maryland, Dublin 8, provided logistical support in the planning and execution of a murder and was the driver of one of two ‘spotter’ vehicles.

It is alleged that at least four people – Mr Thompson, Mr B, Mr C and Mr F – were involved in Mr Douglas murder.

Gardai have alleged that four vehicles were used in the killing, a silver Mercedes, which was the “murder vehicle”, a silver Suzuki Swift, the getaway car, and a blue Mitsubishi Mirage and a silver Ford Fiesta, which were “spotter” cars.

During the three week trial, the Special Criminal Court heard evidence from forensic scientist, Sarah Fleming, who said that Mr Thompson’s DNA was found on an inhaler in a Mitsubishi vehicle. She said there was less than one in a husband million chance that the DNA came from someone unrelated to Mr Thompson.

A second man’s DNA, known as Mr F, was also found on the dashboard of the Mitsubishi, Ms Fleming told the court.

Mr Thompson’s DNA also matched the DNA found on an air freshener and on hand sanitiser in the Fiesta.

In his evidence, Detective Garda Raymond Kane said that he lifted a number of finger and palm prints from the cars and compared them with Mr Thompson's fingerprints, taken when he was arrested in November 2016.

Gda Kane said he had "no doubt" that Mr Thompson's fingerprints matched the prints found on the rear view mirror of the blue Mirage and on the rear view mirror of a Ford Fiesta.

Gda Kane said a fingerprint matching Mr Thompson's was also found on a birthday card in the Mirage.

The court heard that detectives trawled through a total of 160 individual pieces of CCTV footage as they attempted to track the movements of the men allegedly in Mr Douglas’ murder.

Garda Ciaran Byrne, a CCTV expert, led the three judge Special Criminal Court through the CCTV footage showing the movements of the four cars in the hours leading up to the shooting of Mr Douglas, and in the immediate aftermath of the killing.

Detective Sergeant Adrian Whitelaw positively identified Mr Thompson in four clips of CCTV footage, taken on the day Mr Douglas was shot dead.

One clip was taken from CCTV footage at the Guild of the Little Flower on Dublin’s Meath Street, one minute before Mr Douglas was killed, and Mr Thompson has accepted this is him.

Sgt Whitelaw further identified Mr Thompson from CCTV footage at Little Caeser’s on Balfe Street later that night, where he met Mr C and Mr F, both of whom are suspects in the case.

Two other clips of CCTV allegedly showed Mr Thompson driving a "spotter” vehicle, a silver Ford Fiesta, taken at 10.48am at Merton Avenue and later at 3.53 on Donore Avenue.

Detective Garda Seamus O’Donovan also identified Mr Thompson from these two clips.

However, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Flann Brennan, ruled that the image taken at Donore Avenue was inadmissible as identification evidence because the image was “too fleeting and indistinct” to allow proper identification.

An attempt by the defence to have all the CCTV footage ruled as inadmissible as it breached Mr Thompson’s constitutional right to privacy also failed, after the judges ruled that the claim bordered on the “absurd”.

This morning, a statement was read into evidence from Carl Fagan, from Mercedes Ireland, who said that in the period between January 1 and June 30, 2016 there were 61 models in mountain grey metallic registered through the company.

Of those, only six vehicles were diesel cars, similar in colour, make and model to the alleged “murder vehicle”.

A second statement was read into evidence from a man who said he was driving down Francis Street at 4.15pm when a Mercedes came up behind him and overtook him. He followed the vehicle and saw two men get out, one of whom, the passenger, appeared to have his face covered, possibly with a balaclava.

In his statement, he said the men had just gotten out of the vehicle when the Mercedes went up in flames. The driver’s trouser leg also caught fire and the man quickly extinguished the fire on his trousers.

The court heard the men jumped into a silver Suzuki and drove off at speed.

Garda Ciaran Byrne was recalled to the stand, where he showed CCTV footage from the Guild of the Little Flower on Meath Street.

Led by Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, the court heard that at 4.14pm the CCTV footage showed Mr Thompson appear to hand an item to a female, who was working at a market stall, before she ran across the road, got into the silver Ford Fiesta and drove away in it.

Mr Gillane said that was the State's case.

The trial has now been adjourned for two weeks and will return on May 31, when submissions and closing speeches are expected to be heard.

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