Garda tells court he saw David Speedie with alleged gang figure

Former footballer was seen with ‘Fat Freddy’ Thompson’s brother in his car, court hears

A garda and an employee of the Sunday World have told the High Court they saw former Premiership 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 to an action by Mr Speedie, who played for several clubs including Liverpool and Chelsea, over what he alleges were defamatory articles written about him in 2011.

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

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


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

The defence case has ended and Mr Justice John Hedigan will decide on Friday whether the jury will go out then to consider a verdict or defer that to later because of a prior commitment of one of the jurors.

Gangland investigation

On Thursday, 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 4x4 driven by Mr Speedie in the Kevin Street area in May 2011.

The garda said he saw the car again in 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 that he knew Ritchie Thompson from his schooldays.

He said he saw Ritchie, along with Liam Brannigan, an associate of Thompson’s criminal brother “Fat Freddy” 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 as part of his role in Operation Anvil which targeted major gangs and crime.

Garda Darragh Kenny told the court he stopped Mr Speedie on May 10th, 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 now 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 8 minutes and 45 seconds.

Earlier, Mr McCaffrey, under cross-examination by Mark Harty SC for Mr Speedie, said this was the first time he had ever been in court in relation to his journalism.

He accepted he was a named defendant to two other cases against newspaper, in 2005 and 2011. The court heard nothing had happened in relation to the first case and papers had not been served in relation to the second.