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Witnesses tell of seeing Speedie with gang suspect

a GARDA and an employee of the Sunday World told the High Court they saw former Premier League footballer David Speedie in the company of an alleged gangland figure.

They were among four witnesses called by the Sunday World as part of its defence of an action by Mr Speedie, who played for clubs such as Liverpool and Chelsea, over what he claims were defamatory articles written about him in 2011.

Mr Speedie says the stories falsely meant he was engaged in criminal activity, was involved in smuggling or transportation of drugs and had links to gangland crime.

He sued the paper's publishers, Sunday Newspapers Ltd, editor Colm McGinty and Mick McCaffrey who wrote the stories.

The defendants deny defamation and said the words in the articles were true.

Mr Justice John Hedigan will decide whether the jury will go out to consider a verdict today.

Garda Colin O'Carroll told the court he saw Ritchie Thompson, who the jury has been told was a garda suspect in a gangland investigation, in the passenger seat of a Mercedes car driven by Mr Speedie in the Kevin Street area in May 2011.

The garda said he saw the car again in nearby McDonagh House when the two men got out and went in different directions.

Robert Farrell, who worked in the sports department of the Sunday World until last year, said he knew Ritchie Thompson from his schooldays.

He saw Ritchie, along with Liam Brannigan, an associate of Thompson's criminal brother 'Fat Freddie' Thompson, with Mr Speedie "sitting in one group" in a Dublin pub in December 2010.


Another garda, Owen Kirwan, said he was tasked to profile Ritchie Thompson.

In June 2008, he saw Mr Speedie driving onto Dame Street and was about to signal him to pull over when Mr Speedie did so anyway.

During a conversation, Mr Speedie told him "if Ritchie Thompson was on fire, I wouldn't p*** on him".

Garda Darragh Kenny told the court he stopped Mr Speedie driving a Mercedes on May 10, 2008, near McDonagh House, and while they were speaking, Ritchie Thompson's wife passed by and said: "Dave, you are blocking traffic."

The court heard the Sunday World had records showing the length of a call between Mr McCaffrey and Mr Speedie, which led to the publication of the first article.

While Mr Speedie said the call lasted two to three minutes, and Mr McCaffrey estimated it lasted about 11 minutes, the record showed it lasted eight minutes and 45 seconds.

Earlier, on Mr McCaffrey's second day under cross-examination, he said he "made absolutely nothing up" in the articles he wrote. He declined to say what was the source of some of the information he used for the Speedie story was.