Northern Ireland

Stormont department faces corporate manslaughter case over Noah Donohoe's death

Noah Donohoe's remains were found in a storm drain in north Belfast on June 27 last year
Noah Donohoe's remains were found in a storm drain in north Belfast on June 27 last year

The death of Noah Donohoe could be set to become the first corporate manslaughter case brought against a Stormont assembly department.

The Irish News understands the liability being investigated by the PSNI relates to the storm drain where the 14-year-old was found being unlocked and situated in a public place.

As the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) owns the drain and has responsibility for it, the case would be taken against it.

Police confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation had been launched regarding access to the storm drain where the south Belfast teenager was found.

Noah's body was recovered from the drain, close to the M2 motorway, on June 27, six days after he went missing in Belfast.

His mother, Fiona Donohoe has been campaigning for justice for her son since his death.

A social media campaign, which has been supported by thousands of followers, has consistently raised questions as to how Noah came to be in the storm drain.

Just weeks ago, thousands of people took part in a car cavalcade around Belfast in a bid to raise the profile of the case.

A post-mortem examination found that the teenager died as a result of drowning.

The full inquest is scheduled to begin in January.

The PSNI said last year they believed the 14-year-old entered the drain in the Northwood Road area of north Belfast.

A separate coroner's investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the St Malachy’s College schoolboy is also ongoing.

In a statement on Wednesday about the latest investigation, the PSNI said it was "working in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive and Public Prosecution Service and have informed the Donohoe family of the development."

Posting on Twitter, KRW Law, which is representing Noah's mother, Fiona Donohoe, said: "This corporate manslaughter investigation will enquire into risk assessments of the storm drain at Premier Drive / culvert network and reporting structures within DfI/Rivers Agency.

"The watercourse and storm drain are designated under the Drainage (NI) Order 1973."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Infrastructure said: “The Department can confirm that there is no case against them. DfI have been advised that an investigation in the offence of corporate manslaughter has been launched and the Department is cooperating fully with all aspects of this investigation. No further comment can be made while these investigations are continuing."