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JUSTICE FOR NOAH Fiona Donohoe: 'Noah was my son... I have every right to speak up about what's happening'

Mum Fiona's pain as too many questions are unanswered

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Fiona Donohoe with her son Noah

Fiona Donohoe with her son Noah

Fiona Donohoe with her son Noah

Fiona Donohoe's heartbreaking public pleas over a police investigation into claims a prisoner "confessed" to the abduction and murder of her teenage son adds more questions to her ongoing fight for answers.

Last week the devastated mum took to social media to question why police had not arrested the individual at the centre of the claim, despite a detailed witness statement given to independent investigators from another inmate,

"This was my son... I have every right to speak about what is happening and what is not," she wrote on Twitter.

On Tuesday, she had revealed that she had met senior PSNI investigators who had read details of the alleged confession.

She alleges the person who made the statement claimed the "UDA were called to dispose of" Noah's body.

In response the police said: "While our investigation to date has not identified any evidence that supports the claims that have been made, we are committed to exhausting every investigative opportunity.

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Noah Donohoe

Noah Donohoe

Noah Donohoe

 

"Our officers recognise the suffering that comes with the loss of a loved one and take no pleasure in relaying information that is distressing. We are fully committed to finding answers for the Donohoe family."

The PSNI has previously said it was making "progress" in terms of investigating the claim made by the prisoner which were raised last month at a pre-inquest review hearing at Belfast's Laganside Courts.

Last month the Sunday World revealed how a former prisoner said a fellow inmate had broken down while the pair were incarcerated and admitted to killing Noah.

When the Sunday World confronted the man last week who allegedly confessed to "killing Noah", he denied any involvement and described his former cellmate as "delusional".

The "confession" claim is now part of a long list of unanswered questions or the family, who have campaigned tirelessly for truth over the 14-year-old's disappearance and death.

That includes newly disclosed witness statements to the family and their legal team which detail an, as yet, unidentified vehicle seen close to the spot where Noah was last seen alive.

Noah's body was discovered in a north Belfast storm drain six days after he went missing on a bike ride across the city to meet friends in June last year.

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A post-mortem found his cause of death to be drowning.

His family has always said that many questions surround his disappearance and death and have tirelessly campaigned for answers.

The day before Noah's body was discovered by search and rescue workers, PSNI Superintendent Muir Clarke told a press conference: "As to why Noah was in that particular area of north Belfast, that it is still unclear to both the family and us"

A year on, that still remains a mystery.

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Resident Karen Crooks at the storm drain the teenager entered

Resident Karen Crooks at the storm drain the teenager entered

Resident Karen Crooks at the storm drain the teenager entered

 

When Noah left his south Belfast home on that sunny Father's Day afternoon in the middle of lockdown, he cycled through various parts of the city heavily covered by CCTV.

An estimated 180 cameras are known to have existed at that time along the route the schoolboy took on Sunday, June 21, 2020.

However, his family were told by police that just over 20 cameras, amounting to just eight minutes and 42 seconds of footage, were able to capture him on that fateful journey.

The Donohoes' heartfelt appeals since for more CCTV, dashcam clips and any other type of video suggest they believe there is more evidence available that could assist the investigation.

In January, leading human rights solicitor Niall Murphy made that clear in a statement, at what was the fourth preliminary coroner's hearing into Noah's death.

"We appeal for businesses on Royal Avenue at the junction at the bottom of Royal Avenue and North Street and the Belfast Telegraph building to review their CCTV from June 21 and to make this available to police," Mr Murphy said.

The lawyer made the appeal after revealing a new line of inquiry that statements received by police stated that Noah may have been assaulted as he cycled through the city centre.

"We have reason to believe that there is a particular and specific knowledge of this assault in the homeless community and with those struggling with addiction issues, both in the city centre and also from people who were residents at Queens Quarter housing association in University Street, specifically people resident there in June.

"The court will be aware that Noah lived metres away from Queens Quarter on the day he went missing.

"We would appeal for anyone with knowledge of this event to immediately attend with police to make a statement," Mr Murphy added.

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The last picture of Noah

The last picture of Noah

The last picture of Noah

"We also make a very specific appeal for people with relevant photographs stored in their phones to voluntarily present themselves and their phones to police to enable police to forensically download photos, verify times and location. Those people are not under suspicion, and certainly not by the Donohoe family. You've done nothing wrong and you will get your phone back."

In a further appeal, Mr Murphy spoke more in detail about a gap in CCTV evidence close to the area where Noah came to be separated from his bag.

Convicted thief Daryl Paul, who was later jailed for stealing the teen's backpack, claimed he'd stumbled across the rucksack inside an underpass across from the Art College building on York Street.

A court heard CCTV showed Paul in another part of the city at the time Noah would have been passing the Ulster University premises.

Mr Murphy said: "There is a gap in CCTV evidence from the bottom of Royal Avenue at North Street until the Belfast Telegraph building.

"Unfortunately there is no CCTV coverage of that 250m and we would appeal to any businesses that retain their CCTV and to bring that forward to police.

"And indeed the side streets of Royal Avenue, if business owners could examine their CCTV systems for June 21.

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Daryl Paul was jailed over the rucksack theft

Daryl Paul was jailed over the rucksack theft

Daryl Paul was jailed over the rucksack theft

"What police and the coroner are trying to do is to have as complete a jigsaw as possible. At the minute, there are serious parts of that jigsaw which are missing."

To date, some of Noah's clothing has never been recovered.

He'd left home wearing a green North Face jacket, grey shorts, blue tie-dye hoody and yellow tick trainers.

In statements to the media during the widescale search for the St Malachy's College pupil, police said it was believed Noah "discarded" his clothing after they believed he became unwell after falling off his bike and suffering a head injury.

A witness claimed to have seen Noah stumble from his bike in the North Queen Street/York Street area.

There were also reports his green coat was left in the middle of the road.

However, to date, the coat has never been found along with his plain Primark grey shorts - which had been wrongly described in initial police appeals as having an "emblem" on them - and his underwear.

The rest of the teenager's clothing was discovered on a wall close to the Northwood Drive area.

In November, a court heard that a man accused of stealing the schoolboy's rucksack containing his laptop and schoolbooks had also been in possession of the jacket.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard how three days into a widespread search operation for the 14-year-old, an anonymous caller contacted police to claim that Daryl Paul was in possession of the boy's bag, laptop, books and coat.

At a High Court bail hearing in January, a Crown prosecutor revealed that after failing to cash in Noah's laptop at a city centre Cash Convertors store, Paul had tried once again to sell the computer at a party.

The prosecutor said the caller claimed that Paul had attempted to sell the laptop directly to them at the gathering.

The following day, police forced their way into Paul's flat and recovered the rucksack and schoolbooks with Noah's name on them.

His laptop was later recovered by officers in the Queens Quarter Housing hostel room of Maria Nolan, a 28-year-old west Belfast woman who told police she had no idea who owned the laptop and claimed she had been asked by Paul to look after it for him.

At the time, she was questioned by police but released. She has since been charged with possessing the stolen laptop and is due to appear in court in the coming weeks.

It's understood the Donohoe family were first made aware of the details of Paul being in possession of Noah's coat through media reports.

The 33-year-old denies ever having Noah's coat at any stage.

It is still unclear as to why the schoolboy ended up in a state of undress on the day he went missing.

To date, no-one has come forward to say they witnessed the teen take off his clothing.

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Maria Nolanbwas charged over the laptop

Maria Nolanbwas charged over the laptop

Maria Nolanbwas charged over the laptop

During six days of searches, police said one possibility was that he had suffered a head injury which may have led to him becoming unwell and "discarding" his clothes.

However, it is understood that theory was ruled out during post-mortem examinations.

In an interview with the Sunday World in February, Fiona revealed new information brought forward to police which detailed a distressing claim that four Belfast-based "career criminals" were alleged to have targeted the schoolboy on the day he disappeared.

"I have been told I can't say there are suspects in an assault, well there are suspects," the brave mum told this newspaper.

"A person who knew about an extremely vital part of Noah's journey came forward in November.

"She did implicate people, she did state that she was aware of an assault and an incident with Noah.

"She said it was talked about in circles that she was part of too. She named four men, four career criminals known to police.

"They said about an injection... that he could have possibly been injected with heroin or threatened with a heroin needle.

"She said these people have taken opportunities like this before and that they are known for it.

"One of them who has been named as the person who may have done the assault has a long record of violence.

"I read something about what he did to someone else and he scares me, as an adult."

Some of those named by the witness are understood to have never been questioned by police.

Questions also remain about how a young, naked boy could have been seen by so few people in a heavily residential area on a bright, sunny afternoon.

Weeks after his body was discovered, his family raised concerns over a door-to-door leaflet drop which was supposed to have been carried out by police in the Northwood area.

The Donohoes were told one was carried out, however police later said none had and put it down to a "misunderstanding".

In October last year, Fiona Donohoe also raised concerns over water samples gathered following the discovery of her son's body in the north storm drain where the schoolboy is said to have drowned.

Fiona claimed that a pathology report showed that samples taken from Noah's lungs had not been compared to water present in the drain.

"To do a thorough investigation water sample from where Noah was founded needed to be collected by investigating team and given in to be compared," she wrote in a social media post. "This sample was not given in for testing."

Perhaps the biggest question of all is how Noah came to enter the storm drain.

In February, the PSNI confirmed it had launched a separate investigation into how the boy accessed the Department for Infrastructure drain network at Premier Drive/Northwood Road.

That investigation will take place in addition to the coroner's investigation into the teenager's death.

In her own words, heartbroken Fiona said: "Ask yourself if you were afraid of pitch black darkness would you go 950m into a storm drain you didn't know, naked and cold? If you would WHY?"

"I know MY son...he wasn't an exhibitionist...he wasn't on drugs or alcohol...he did not know that street...(his) last search on his google as police seen was 'Cavehill'...NOT get naked and go to a random unknown storm drain."

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