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Back on streets Criminal accused of confessing to killing Noah Donohoe says he 'had nothing to do' with death

He also called his former prison pal’s allegations “delusional”

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We spoke to the man at the centre of the allegations after his
release from jail

We spoke to the man at the centre of the allegations after his release from jail

We spoke to the man at the centre of the allegations after his release from jail

An inmate at the centre of a jailhouse “confession” that schoolboy Noah Donohoe was abducted and murdered, is back on the streets.

The man, accused by another prisoner of allegedly admitting to killing the 14-year-old, was released from jail last week and is expected to be questioned by police in the coming days.

The Sunday World tracked the convicted criminal down to a relative’s Co Armagh address on Friday, where he denied making any claims over the teenager’s death.

He also called his former prison pal’s allegations “delusional”.

When our reporter put the claims to him on the doorstep, he replied: “Right, OK.”

When asked if a conversation had ever taken place inside the prison where both were serving time for separate crimes earlier this year, he responded: “No, it didn’t.”

He added: “Me and (inmate name) had a falling out. He likes to exaggerate.”

Asked if the prisoner was ever in his cell, he told the Sunday World: “Yes, maybe for two minutes. But not long enough for me to say what he claims.

“I was on the same landing as him, for maybe two or three days. But sure, there are plenty of cameras in the prison that can prove that.

“We had falling out before we went to prison but passed ourselves to each other in there so I don’t know why he would say what he did.”

He added: “I had nothing to do with the child’s death. This is the first I am hearing of it.”

The repeat offender, who is in his late 20s, also said he has never been in the north Belfast area where Noah was last known to have been seen alive.

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Noah Donohoe's mother Fiona arrives at Laganside Courts in Belfast for a pre-inquest review hearing. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Noah Donohoe's mother Fiona arrives at Laganside Courts in Belfast for a pre-inquest review hearing. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Noah Donohoe's mother Fiona arrives at Laganside Courts in Belfast for a pre-inquest review hearing. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

He also denied having any links to paramilitaries, claiming he himself is under threat from a loyalist terror group over a vigilante incident in north Down.

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He said he was prepared to speak to detectives and the Donohoe family over the allegations.

It can be revealed that the inmate who had come forward to independent investigators with the information has now been formally interviewed by PSNI detectives.

It’s understood the ex-lag gave a statement to police on Thursday.

It’s now expected that the man he accused of making the disturbing comments will be spoken to by police in the coming days.

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.

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.

Last week the Sunday World revealed how police had been passed details of the disturbing new claim from independent investigators several weeks ago.

The alleged confession was said to have been made behind bars over the last number of months inside a Northern Ireland prison where both the individual and the man concerned were serving sentences for separate crimes.

The distressing allegation came to light after the inmate left prison last month.

Within days of his release, he made contact with independent investigators examining the circumstances of the schoolboy’s disappearance and death, before being interviewed at length over the claims.

A detailed written account of that interview was handed over to both the coroner and the PSNI last month.

It’s understood the young male who came forward claimed he’d been in his friend’s prison cell earlier this year when his friend “broke down” and “confessed” to attacking Noah after seeing him naked on the street.

He is then said to have bundled the boy into a car and took him to a flat in an area of Belfast where he was further assaulted before being killed.

The prisoner, who has a history of violence, is said to have claimed to have been assisted by other people in disposing of the child’s body.

He allegedly told his prison pal he had been in the north Belfast area with another individual on the afternoon of Sunday, June 21 – the day Noah went missing – to carry out a vigilante attack on a sex offender.

While driving close to the Northwood area, he spotted Noah naked, stopped the car and attacked him, it’s claimed.

The inmate, who is originally from the Co Armagh area, was said to have been “extremely distressed” when making the allegations.

On Wednesday, senior counsel for the PSNI confirmed in court that the PSNI was now formally probing the claim.

At a preliminary inquest hearing held at Laganside courts, Sean Doran QC, counsel for the coroner, raised the matter as a further potential line of inquiry.

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Noah Donohoe (Family handout/PA)

Noah Donohoe (Family handout/PA)

Noah Donohoe (Family handout/PA)

He said: “The reason that matter has been put on the agenda is that just very recently, this past Sunday, there was an article in the Sunday World.

“I’m not going to go into detail, but the article was titled Prisoner Claims His Cellmate Admitted To Killing Tragic Teenager Noah Donohoe.”

He said the matter had been referred to the PSNI for consideration, with their representatives confirming an investigation is ongoing.

Barrister for the police, Donal Lunny QC, told the court: “There’s not a great deal more I can say at this juncture. I can confirm the PSNI are investigating the matters which you mentioned.”

Barrister for the Donohoe family, Brenda Campbell QC, said the claims had caused them “great anxiety”.

“It’s an anxiety not just because of the content, but it’s an anxiety associated with what’s being done about it and whether or not it’s being properly investigated,” she added.

Ms Campbell sought clarity that the investigation is being treated as a criminal matter rather than a coronial matter.

She said: “It’s a matter of concern to the family that on the one hand we are told that an investigation is ongoing, but on the other hand there were quotes in yesterday’s Irish News from the PSNI that appeared to suggest that really this is a coronial matter and not a police matter.

“Of course, given the nature of what was said in those reports at the weekend, it very much must be a police matter, and must be a police investigation.”

She highlighted a quote from a PSNI spokesperson that appeared in the Irish News on Monday, that said: “The disappearance and death of Noah Donohoe is subject to an ongoing coronial investigation.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland is conducting the investigation on behalf of the coroner so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

She said the allegation “must be acted upon by the police as a serious and significant police inquiry.

“It must be done with some urgency, because of course, if there is an ongoing line of police inquiry... then that does impact on the proceedings before this court,” she added.

Coroner Joe McCrisken told the court that police perform a “dual role” in any investigations and inquests.

“Very definitely I agree with Mrs Campbell,” Coroner McCrisken said.

“The PSNI perform a dual role here. They have an obligation to address on behalf of the coroner but also where there are allegations of criminal conduct then they have a primary role to investigate that conduct. That investigation must proceed with pace.”

The hearing took place as huge crowds gathered outside the court building in support of the Donohoe family’s ongoing campaign for answers over Noah’s death.

Men, women and children wearing Noah Donohoe Foundation jerseys and holding placards stood in solidarity with mum Fiona and her sister Niamh as they entered court.

As they walked through the crowds, those who had gathered cheered and clapped. The heartbroken mum was visibly emotional as she walked towards the entrance.

She later thanked those who turned out in support.

“I cannot say how much each one of us ALL standing together has made on progress of information happening,” Fiona wrote on social media.

“Those in power have had to respect our plea for beautiful Noah... It should never take this... but Noah and Noah’s Army should be so absolutely proud of themselves... My God we are getting somewhere.”

The next preliminary court hearing has been scheduled for September 16.

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