Mick McCaffrey, Security Editor
NOTORIOUS gangland figure Freddie Thompson has taken to wearing a wig as a disguise in the hope of preventing another attempt on his life.
Gardai have already foiled one assassination attempt on the 27year-old and there are currently three contracts out to kill him.
"Fat" Freddie Thompson is the leader of a Drimnagh-based drugs gang involved in a deadly feud with a rival Crumlin gang which has led to 11 murders.
He has been repeatedly told by gardai that he is in imminent danger and has been travelling between Spain and his home in Dublin's south inner city to evade his would-be killers.
Thompson has been seen by detectives on two occasions over the last month wearing a black curly wig and dark sunglasses in a bid to disguise himself. He suffers from premature baldness and his small stocky frame means he is instantly recognisable, so he has taken steps to change his appearance and is moving from house to house. The INLA, a former associate and the leader of the rival drug gang have all offered cash rewards for Thompson's murder.
Last month, two gunmen were intercepted by gardai on O'Connell Bridge on the way to murder Thompson, who was sitting in a car on nearby Parnell Square. He left the country immediately following the failed hit, but has since returned to Ireland.
In May 2005, the wife of a Crumlin gangster contacted gardai to say she was being followed by three men in a Ford Mondeo car.
Gardai stopped the vehicle and Freddie Thompson was the frontseat passenger. He was wearing a wig and sunglasses and swallowed the sim card of his phone as officers approached the car. The driver of the Mondeo was the 23-year-old who is currently the prime suspect for the attempted murder of 'The Viper' Martin Foley two months ago.
When gardai asked why he had changed his look, Thompson laughed and made a joke. A hammer, gloves, a balaclava and a leather belt for ammunition were found in the boot of the car.
Garda sources say Thompson is under severe pressure and has been behaving increasingly erratically since his close friend and gang member Patrick Doyle was shot dead in Spain last February.
Thompson is seen as being extremely vulnerable since the murder of 27-year-old Doyle, who was his hitman and enforcer-in-chief.
Doyle was executed in the town of Estepona on the Costa del Sol after falling foul of a Turkish drugs syndicate over unpaid bills for heroin shipments.
He had been living in Spain since November 2005, when he fled Ireland after carrying out three murders in as many days.
He had been organising shipments of drugs on behalf of Thompson but refused to pay for them after gardai intercepted a number of large deliveries.
Freddie Thompson was in Estep - ona when the murder took place and was on the scene within minutes. The Thompson gang has imploded since the Doyle murder and has effectively split in two.
Gardai say Thompson is a "dead man walking".
May 4, 2008
Saturday, 3 May 2008
• Conviction welcomed by dead reporter's family
• Honey trap abduction foiled by detectives
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
The Guardian, Saturday 3 May 2008
A criminal named in a Dublin court as the gunman who killed campaigning journalist Veronica Guerin was jailed yesterday for eight years over a £10m kidnap plot. Patrick "Dutchy" Holland, 68, was found guilty of planning to abduct west London businessman Nasir Zahid in a so called honey trap.
At a trial in Dublin for drug smuggling, a police officer said she believed Holland was the gunman who had killed Guerin in her car in June 1996. Holland had been part of a major Irish criminal gang headed by convicted drugs smuggler John Gilligan. The crime boss had given the order that Guerin be assassinated. Gilligan had threatened her and her young son over her attempts to expose him as one of the leading drug smugglers in Ireland. Holland was never brought to trial for Guerin's murder.
The London kidnap plot was foiled after detectives secretly filmed gang members and bugged their calls as they staked out Zahid's west London offices and home, Blackfriars crown court in London was told.
The gang had planned to abduct him outside his company Tradex Ltd, in Chiswick, west London.
A businessman from mainline Europe, dubbed the Banker - who was not before the court - allegedly financed the plan and recruited Holland to organise the kidnapping of Zahid. John McDonnell, 45, an associate of Holland, was overheard boasting of the potential ransom.
Days before their arrest on May 1 last year McDonnell and Gerard Booth, 47, from Northern Ireland, drove to the home of Khan Coombs, 24, to convince her to apply for a job at Zahid's company. McDonnell said: "We're going to send you into the office and you're going to try and flirt with this bstar-d to see if he'll ask you out - which he will, that's the type of dog he is. If he comes out we're going to grab him. If this comes off there's £10m involved in this job.
"When you bring him out we can take him to the slaughterhouse."
Holland, McDonnell, Booth and Coombs were convicted of conspiracy to kidnap after a month-long trial.
Simon Young, 38, was also convicted of the plot and a further count of having an ME38 blank-firing revolver which had been converted to shoot live rounds. McDonnell was jailed for eight years, Booth for seven years, Coombs for four years and Young for 11 years. Guerin's family last night welcomed the conviction describing it as "a roundabout way to justice" for the reporter.
Her brother Jimmy Guerin said: "I am delighted at least that this key member of the Gilligan gang is behind bars in a British prison. He couldn't even go straight when he was released from jail the last time in Ireland. It shows what an immoral personal Holland was and still is."
Guerin's murder inspired a 2003 film starring Cate Blanchett in the title role. The killing also prompted the Irish state into action against several major criminal gangs in charge of the drugs trade in the republic. The Criminal Assets Bureau was created and given powers to seize bank accounts belonging to suspected Irish gangsters. The bureau became the model for other crime fighting agencies around the world including the UK Assets Recovery Agency.
Holland served nine years for possessing and smuggling cannabis and vowed to undergo a lie-detector test to prove he did not murder Guerin.
The Dublin born career criminal had been associated with the republican splinter group the Irish National Liberation Army and had previous convictions for handling weapons and explosives.