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Freddie's brother may be gang target after Thompson gets Spanish switch wish

'FAT' Freddie Thompson's extradition to Spain is set to leave his older brother Richie "vulnerable" to a feud-related attack.

Freddie (30) told a High Court judge that he wanted to be sent to Spain straight away despite authorities investigating his involvement in a major international drugs gang.

Thompson's only supporters in court were his loyal girlfriend Vicky Dempsey (30) and his brother Richie.

But with Freddie out of the picture, Richie is now considered a prime target for Freddie's bitter enemies in the rival 'King Ratt' gang faction.

A senior source explained: "Richie Thompson has already been the victim of a serious feud-related attack this year. With his brother now likely to be abroad for years to come, he is in a very vulnerable position.

"After all, Richie was powerless to stop his mother's house being targeted by a petrol bomb and pipe bomb during the summer which meant that Freddie felt the need to come back to Dublin two months ago from the UK.

"There is still a lot of tension around the south inner city after an innocent mother of the rival gang was hit over the head with a wheel-brace and Richie could now find himself the number one target."

In March, Richie was attacked in a city bar. The incident, at the Karma Stone pub on Wexford Street, reignited tensions in the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud. Richie suffered a broken leg and his wife Catherine was knifed in the arm, requiring 17 stitches.

Junior members of the gang once controlled by jailed gangland boss Brian Rattigan were involved in the ugly assault at 10.30pm on Sunday, March 13.

The pub incident directly led to at least two shooting incidents in the Crumlin area in the following days, and a contract being placed on the life of the young criminal who Thompson's gang believe instigated the assaults. This 24-year-old criminal has been forced to flee Dublin and he was savagely assaulted as he sat in a witness box at a court hearing in late July.

Meanwhile sources say that Freddie's decision to agree to immediate extradition to Spain to face gangland charges is a "tactical manoeuvre" to allow him continue his life of crime.

At the High Court yesterday, Thompson told a judge that he wanted to be sent to Spain straight away.

He is wanted by Spanish authorities probing the Christy Kinahan organisation, a major international drugs gang led by Irish criminals based in southern Spain.

Up to 30 members of the Kinahan mob were arrested by Spanish police in May 2010 in a high profile investigation codenamed Operation Shovel.

All have since been released on bail including more senior gangsters than Thompson, including convicted kidnapper John Cunnigham (59) and Christy Kinahan's son Daniel.

Gardai believe that the gang has now regrouped and are back trafficking huge amounts of drugs around Europe.

A source explained: "Freddie is aware that everyone who was arrested by the Spanish was released on bail -- in some cases just after a few days.

"If Thompson had applied for bail in the High Court yesterday, gardai would have objected in the strongest terms and he would have been left isolated in a protection unit at Cloverhill Prison, potentially for months.

"He now gets to go to Spain where he has every chance of getting bail and will be free to continue his operations away from the scrutiny of gardai."

Sources say that Thompson could be extradited as early as this weekend but the transfer may not happen until the middle of next week because "practical arrangements need to be made by Spanish police."

The Spanish authorities want to question him in relation to three specific offences: participation in an organised crime gang; arms trafficking; and drugs trafficking.

If convicted, he faces up to nine years in a Spanish jail.

kfoy@herald.ie