Northern Ireland

Noah Donohoe inquest set to begin in September and could run for six weeks

The Belfast schoolboy was found dead in a storm drain in the city in June 2020, six days after he went missing.

Noah Donohoe was found dead in a storm drain in north Belfast in June 2020 (Family handout/PA)
Noah Donohoe was found dead in a storm drain in north Belfast in June 2020 (Family handout/PA) Noah Donohoe was found dead in a storm drain in north Belfast in June 2020 (Family handout/PA)

An inquest into the death of Belfast schoolboy Noah Donohoe is set to commence in September and could last up to six weeks, the coroner’s court has heard.

Noah, 14, was found dead in a storm drain in the city in June 2020 – six days after he went missing as he cycled to meet up with friends.

His mother Fiona Donohoe is hoping to secure answers to some of the questions surrounding the death of her son through the inquest process.

Fiona Donohoe arriving at Belfast Laganside courts for a previous inquest hearing for her son Noah
Noah Donohoe inquest Fiona Donohoe arriving at Belfast Laganside courts for a previous inquest hearing for her son Noah

The inquest was originally scheduled to take place last year but was then delayed after a ruling from coroner Joe McCrisken that it should proceed with a jury, following an application from Ms Donohoe.

At a preliminary hearing in the coroner’s court in Belfast today, legal representatives discussed scheduling issues related to the substantive inquest.

Along with Mr McCrisken, they provisionally agreed to a start date of Monday September 16, pending court availability.

The coroner ringfenced the Thursday and Friday of the previous week to provide court time to address any outstanding legal issues ahead of swearing in the jury on the following Monday.



Brenda Campbell KC, representing the Donohoe family, suggested that hearing evidence on four days each week might be more manageable and effective than running the inquest for five full days.

“I’m thinking particularly of Noah’s mother in these circumstances and whether or not she is capable of standing the intensity of a five day week,” she said.

“But also in terms of management of witnesses and preparation for witnesses – this is going to be a fairly intensive process.”

Coroner McCrisken said he had no issue with that approach, adding that he had found a four day week useful in previous inquests.

He said he would plan for the inquest to run for up to six weeks.

Issues around the disclosure of documents in the case remain outstanding, with Noah’s family having made several requests for material from the police.

The coroner is to hold a half day hearing on March 5 to hear submissions related to the disclosure issues.