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Tragic death Mum of Noah Donohoe says book on his death ‘trespasses on her grief’, inquest told 

The development emerged at a pre-inquest review hearing yesterday, which was also told that the PSNI is investigating whether the 14-year-old had been assaulted in Belfast city centre as he travelled on his bicycle on the day of his disappearance.

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Schoolboy Noah Donohoe went missing on June 21 last year. Photo: Pacemaker Belfast

Schoolboy Noah Donohoe went missing on June 21 last year. Photo: Pacemaker Belfast

Schoolboy Noah Donohoe went missing on June 21 last year. Photo: Pacemaker Belfast

A new book about Belfast schoolboy Noah Donohoe has been referred to the attorney general of Northern Ireland by the coroner overseeing an inquest into the teenager’s death.

The development emerged at a pre-inquest review hearing yesterday, which was also told that the PSNI is investigating whether the 14-year-old had been assaulted in Belfast city centre as he travelled on his bicycle on the day of his disappearance.

The schoolboy went missing on June 21 last year.

His body was found in a storm drain in the north of the city six days later following a massive search operation.

A post-mortem examination established that the St Malachy’s College student died as a result of drowning and a coroner’s hearing was later told there was no evidence that he was attacked or that anyone else was involved.

Noah’s mother, Fiona Donohoe, who has called for a full investigation into her son’s disappearance and death, said the publication of The Noah Donohoe Scandal by Donal Lavery “trespasses on her grief”, her solicitor, Niall Murphy said.

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Fiona Donohoe, mother of Noah Donohoe (Liam McBurney/PA)

Fiona Donohoe, mother of Noah Donohoe (Liam McBurney/PA)

Fiona Donohoe, mother of Noah Donohoe (Liam McBurney/PA)


“And she considers it to be very unhelpful in the context of the truth recovery and notes that it must be completely devoid of any specific facts that may emerge at an inquest,” he told the hearing.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said he became aware of the book just days ago but was not aware of its contents.

“Quite rightly I haven’t had sight of the publication but I was made aware of it on Friday of last week and I’ve referred the matter to the attorney under the statutory responsibility,” he said.

“Everyone should be aware now that the only person who is in possession of all of the facts is me, and the investigating officer.

“I have all of the forensics, statements… none of that information has yet been made available to next of kin, let alone any other individual.”

The review also heard that the PSNI is investigating a line of inquiry that Noah may have been assaulted in the city as he travelled on his bike on the day of his disappearance.

Mr Murphy told the hearing, held at Belfast Coroner’s Court, that he was appealing to any businesses along Royal Avenue and North Street to examine their CCTV footage.

“We have reason to believe that there is particular and specific knowledge of this assault in the homeless community and with those struggling with addiction issues in the city centre and also people who may have been resident at the Queen’s Quarter Housing Association in University Street,” he explained.

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BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated family handout file photo issued by the PSNI of Belfast teenager Noah Donohoe 14, who was found dead in a storm drain in the north of the city following a huge community search effort over six days in June. His mother, Fiona Donohoe, attended the preliminary inquest into the death of her son at Belfast Coroners Court on Friday.

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated family handout file photo issued by the PSNI of Belfast teenager Noah Donohoe 14, who was found dead in a storm drain in the north of the city following a huge community search effort over six days in June. His mother, Fiona Donohoe, attended the preliminary inquest into the death of her son at Belfast Coroners Court on Friday.

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated family handout file photo issued by the PSNI of Belfast teenager Noah Donohoe 14, who was found dead in a storm drain in the north of the city following a huge community search effort over six days in June. His mother, Fiona Donohoe, attended the preliminary inquest into the death of her son at Belfast Coroners Court on Friday.


Mr McCrisken explained that the development came from an individual who presented her account to police, which was recorded by her solicitor and “police have an obligation to enquire into that account”.

“Some of what was initially told to police has been clarified but inquiries are ongoing,” he added.

Mr Lavery has previously said his book was based on information in the public domain and on facts.

He added that he informed the family of his intention to write the book, and had received legal correspondence from the Donohoe family asking for it to be removed from sale.

“The substance of the book should be the focus and not the author,” he said.

"If there are any serious inaccuracies I would invite people to clarify them, but throughout I have provided information that is easily accessible online to the reader and which anyone could obtain if they look for it.”

The full inquest is set to be held on January 10, 2022.

However, the coroner heard that the impact of the Covid-19 crisis had resulted in a backlog in other inquests being held, which had put pressure on courtroom availability.

As such, he stressed that a final decision on the date would be made later this year.

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