‘Freddie’ Thompson trial: Witness recalls ‘murder vehicle’ catching fire

Prosecution closes its case against 37-year-old for murder of David Douglas (55)

Frederick ‘Freddie’ Thompson is on trial at the  Special Criminal Court accused of murder. File photograph: The Irish Times.

Frederick ‘Freddie’ Thompson is on trial at the Special Criminal Court accused of murder. File photograph: The Irish Times.

 

The prosecution has closed its case in Frederick ‘Freddie’ Thompson’s murder trial at the Special Criminal Court.

The 37-year-old, 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 south inner city.

The 10-day trial at the non-jury court has heard that Mr Douglas (55) was shot six times shortly after 4pm 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 does not argue that Mr Thompson carried out the actual shooting. However, the three judges have 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.

On Thursday, Seán Gillane SC, prosecuting, read from the statement of a witness, who saw the “ultimate murder vehicle” being burnt out minutes after the killing.

The witness said he was driving down nearby Francis Street at 4.15pm that day.

“I saw a silver car driving very hard behind me. I pulled in to let it pass. I saw that the car was a silver Mercedes,” he said. “I followed it.”

He said he saw the car park up and two men get out.

“The driver was skinilly built,” he recalled. “His face was covered up. It could have been a balaclava.”

He said that he did not know how, but that “the car went up in flames almost immediately”.

Dropped mask

“The driver’s leg caught fire and he started to put it out…That’s when he dropped his face mask,” he continued. “I saw him and he saw me. He tried to cover his face when he saw me.”

He said this man then got into a silver Suzuki.

He described the passenger as “a stocky fella in his 20s, muscley”.

“He ran very fast to the driver’s side of the Suzuki and waited for his skinny friend to catch up,” he explained. “The Suzuki overtook us at speed and went in the direction of Meath Street.”

The witness’s passenger noted the registration and he called gardaí.

“I knew that something serious had happened,” he explained.

The court also re-viewed CCTV footage of Mr Thompson getting out of a Ford Fiesta on Meath Street a few minutes earlier, before crossing to his family’s stall. It is the State’s case that he disassembled a mobile phone at that point and handed the key of the Ford Fiesta to the female running the stall.

Det Garda Ciaran Byrne then played the footage that followed this.

“Something is thrown there by Mr Thompson to the lady and she takes what is thrown and puts it in her pocket?” suggested Mr Gillane.

“Yes,” he replied.

He also confirmed that the accused then walked away before returning and appearing to hand something to the female. He confirmed that this woman could then be seen crossing the road to the Ford Fiesta, which was driven off towards Thomas Street.

Mr Gillane closed his case on behalf of the prosecution and the trial will resume on May 31st before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Flannan Brennan and Judge Gerard Griffin.