Judges at the Special Criminal Court have said they will deliver a verdict next month in the case of Frederick 'Freddie' Thompson, who is accused of murder, after the court heard closing speeches in the case.
The prosecution told the three-judge, non-jury court that on the basis of all the evidence before the court, it should find Mr Thompson guilty of the murder of David Douglas.
The 37-year-old, with an address at Loreto Road, Maryland in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Douglas on July 1st, 2016 on Bridgefoot Street in the south inner city.
The 10-day trial heard that the 55-year-old was shot six times 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 is not claiming 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.
The defence submitted that if the accused cannot be shown to be in the Ford Fiesta car at 10.48am on the morning of the murder, there was “no case”.
Earlier, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Flann Brennan, rejected an application by the defence to direct a verdict of not guilty. Mr Justice Hunt said the court had already ruled that the CCTV evidence met "the minimum cogency standard of admissibility" and it saw no reason to revisit the earlier conclusion at this juncture.
Following the ruling, the court heard closing speeches from the prosecution and defence.
Closing the prosecution case , Tony McGillicuddy BL said the movements of the Fiesta car onto Bridgefoot Street on the day is a “seamless part” of the same event and the court can infer that the accused was driving past at 4pm that day.
Counsel asked the court to take into account the non-answers given by Mr Thompson to gardaí when asked to account for his being in two alleged ‘spotter’ cars on the day he is accused of the murder of Mr Douglas. “A person cannot be convicted for failing to answer questions but it is a part of the strands of evidence against him in this case,” he said.
Mr McGillicuddy said the four cars played a “vital logistical role” at various stages throughout the day. He further submitted that the prosecution laid “emphasis” on the Ford Fiesta and Suzuki cars travelling in tandem.
The court could “safely act” on the recognition evidence in the case, he said.
The barrister noted that it is a case involving “circumstantial evidence” and the court must consider the strands of evidence which when put together are not only consistent with Mr Thompson’s guilt but lead to a conclusion that goes beyond a reasonable doubt.
He said the inferences were supporting evidence which have a “constituent” part in the case.
Mr McGillicuddy asked the court to consider the evidence of Mr Thompson breaking up or dismantling his mobile phone.
“On the basis of all the evidence before the court, the prosecution say the court should find Mr Thompson guilty of the murder of Mr Douglas in 2016,” he concluded.
Michael O’Higgins SC, for Mr Thompson, submitted in his closing speech that the identification evidence falls “so drastically short of” the standard required where a person’s liberty could be taken away forever.
He called the identification evidence “chaotic” and said it was “very heavily relied on” as an essential plank in the prosecution’s case. It is “compromised” on so many different levels, he added.
During the trial, Detective Sergeant Adrian Whitelaw identified Mr Thompson as the man in one of the four cars.
Detective Garda Seamus O’Donovan of the Special Detective Unit also gave evidence of recognising Mr Thompson in three pieces of CCTV footage captured on the day. This included footage of the bearded driver of a Ford Fiesta that the State described as one of the ‘spotter’ cars.
Mr O’Higginssaid the identification evidence “lacked cogency” and he urged the court to conclude that it was not reliable.
Mr O’Higgins said the court could not infer that his client was driving the Fiesta car as this was a car where the drivers were constantly changing.
Counsel said the prosecution were saying the destruction of the phone by Mr Thompson could only be connected to a single event which is the murder. “This is entering into the realm of speculation and not inference,” he said, adding that the bridge had not been built between Mr Thompson breaking his phone and this connecting him to Mr Douglas’s murder.
Previously, Mr O’Higgins read 14 Pulse entries to the court where gardaí had on occasion observed Mr Thompson breaking phones in half and taking them apart. “There is a long history of Mr Thompson disassembling phones. The snap shots show that since 2013 he has been breaking up phones on site when Gardai were around” he said
Referring to his client’s refusal to answer questions in Garda interviews, he said there are “a class of people” who do not engage with An Garda Siochana and Mr Thompson was “just that type of person.”
Summarising his client’s case, Mr O’Higgins said this was a case where his client’s movements could be “objectively categorised as suspicious” but the gap between suspicion and proving a murder was “a considerable one”.
“This case falls way short of what would be required to make a verdict of guilty of murder,” he concluded.
Mr Justice Hunt remanded Mr Thompson in custody until July 24th, when the court will deliver judgement on the case.