Northern Ireland

Noah Donohoe inquest ‘should not take place close to anniversary of death’

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

Noah was found dead in 2020
Noah Donohoe Noah was found dead in 2020 (Niall Carson/PA)

An inquest into the death of Belfast schoolboy Noah Donohoe should not take place on dates close to the anniversary of his disappearance, a barrister has said.

Brenda Campbell KC said she was concerned about the impact on Noah’s mother in holding the hearings in May or June of next year.

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.

14-year-old Noah Donohoe who was found dead in a storm drain in north Belfast in June 2020, six days after he went missing
Noah Donohoe who was found dead in a storm drain in north Belfast in June 2020 (Family Handout/PA) 14-year-old Noah Donohoe who was found dead in a storm drain in north Belfast in June 2020, six days after he went missing (Family Handout/PA)

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

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.

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At a review hearing on Thursday, the coroner was updated about the disclosure process in the case, following a request from Ms Donohoe’s legal team for further documents about the PSNI relevant to the case.

Barrister for the PSNI Donal Lunny said his client hoped to issue a full response to the request in the new year.

Ms Campbell said: “We hope the response is belt and braces and considers all our disclosure requests with care and discloses as much additional material as needs to be disclosed to ensure we have absolutely everything we need.”

Mr Lunny said the PSNI had previously disclosed 11 folders of non-sensitive and three folders of sensitive disclosure relating to the case.

Fiona Donohoe at a previous court hearing
Noah Donohoe inquest Fiona Donohoe at a previous court hearing

Mr McCrisken asked the PSNI to issue a response to the family’s request by January 15.

Counsel for the coroner Peter Coll KC said the preference of the Donohoe family would be that the inquest is not scheduled for May 2024.

Ms Campbell said: “May and June is a very difficult time for Noah’s mother.

“Obviously any prospect that the inquest would proceed over the dates of Noah’s disappearance and the confirmation of his death would be very difficult indeed.

“We would therefore be very concerned about that, in terms of the impact on Ms Donohoe.”

She added: “More fundamentally, we can’t be certain we will be ready with all the disclosure that is outstanding.”

“Although we share the desire to get this inquest on sooner rather than later, the most fundamental point is that the inquest can’t proceed until it is absolutely ready to proceed and we have been given the opportunity to turn over all the relevant or potentially relevant stones.”

Mr McCrisken said he would leave the issue of setting a date for a future hearing.

Another review hearing will take place on January 29.