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fight for justice Mum of tragic teenager Noah Donohoe says he may have been 'threatened or injected with a heroin needle'

Heartbroken Fiona Donohoe says new information brought forward to police details the distressing claim.

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Fiona beside a mural of her dead son Noah.

Fiona beside a mural of her dead son Noah.

Noah with his mother Fiona.

Noah with his mother Fiona.

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Fiona beside a mural of her dead son Noah.

Tragic teenager Noah Donohoe may have been "threatened or injected with" a heroin needle by a group of thugs suspected of carrying out an assault on the schoolboy before he died, his mother has revealed.

Heartbroken Fiona Donohoe says new information brought forward to police details the distressing claim, which points the finger at four Belfast-based "career criminals" alleged to have targeted the schoolboy on the day he disappeared.

In an open and frank interview, she today raises serious concerns surrounding the PSNI investigation into the new allegation, and how a number of those named by a "significant" new witness have not even been questioned by cops.

Speaking to the Sunday World, she also reveals how she will file a complaint with the Police Ombudsman "as soon as possible" over what she feels has been an inadequate PSNI investigation into Noah's disappearance and death.

"Me and Niamh [Fiona's sister] are putting in a complaint as soon as possible with the Police Ombudsman, we are doing it ourselves," she said.

"We will be putting down every single tiny detail because those tiny details have added up to a complete mess of an investigation.

"We have waited this long because, like the majority of people, we have never had to be involved in an investigation. It's naivety, it's learning as you go... don't be afraid of the legal system and the authorities.

"This is my son and I have no answers why he is not here with me today.

"I deserve these answers for Noah because how dare anyone say to me, no you can't say that. You sit here without your child and you decide what I can or can't say? Who are these people?

"I have been told I can't say there are suspects in an assault - well there are suspects.

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

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"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."

Fiona's sister Niamh revealed how the witness came forward following a story printed in the Sunday World last November.

"We encouraged this woman and a relative to come in and meet us in our solicitor Niall Murphy's office over the period of a week.

"Over that time her solicitor was also there, the witness and her mother and she gave us information that we had no knowledge of.

"She was helpful, she gave us names and she gave us information about a potential assault, and she was quite sure of the information she was giving us.

"As the days went on, she became more coherent and confident about what she was saying, and her solicitor was confident in what she was saying as well.

"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, but she couldn't remember where she was at that time."

A signed statement was made by the witness and was passed to police on the Friday of that week, Niamh explained.

"Our first thoughts were right, the police are going to kick down doors, they are going to arrest these people," Niamh said.

"Monday, still nothing. Then three weeks later, still nothing."

Fiona added: "The one man who is supposed to have carried out the assault, coincidentally, was in jail at the time.

"When he came out of jail he was questioned voluntarily.

"And we would love to know what they [police] actually asked because they never took his phone to check forensically where he could have been at that time. They took a career criminal's word that he didn't know Noah and he wasn't in the area.

"The new witness was also questioned by police and before they even started the interview, she was cautioned her for wasting police time.

Speaking about the moment she heard the horrifying claim that her son may have been subjected to the vicious and vile needle assault, Fiona said: "It was pure shock - I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Knowing as a parent that you are not there to protect your child, I have to try and block it out."

Noah went missing on June 21 last year after leaving his south Belfast home on a bike ride across the city to meet friends at Cavehill Country Park.

He never completed the journey. His body was discovered six days later in a storm drain close to the M2 motorway. A post-mortem later stated his cause of death to be drowning. A full inquest hearing is due to take place into the schoolboy's death in January 2022.

The last known sighting of the St Malachy's College pupil was in the Northwood Drive area north of the city.

He was seen on CCTV naked before he abandoned his bike and made his way behind houses where the entrance to the unlocked storm drain lies.

It was later revealed how police had obtained footage from just 22 of an estimated 180 closed circuit cameras dotted along his final route, where he came to be separated from both his belongings and clothes.

Most of the schoolboy's belongings, including his laptop, schoolbooks, phone and some items of clothing, were recovered in the days following his disappearance.

However, some of his clothing is still missing, including his green North Face jacket - which has been the subject of conflicting reports - which has caused further anguish to his family.

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Noah Donohoe (PSNI)

Noah Donohoe (PSNI)

Noah Donohoe (PSNI)

Initially, it had been reported that eyewitnesses had seen Noah's jacket on the roadside after he stumbled from his bike in the vicinity of North Queen Street and York Street just minutes before he was last seen alive.

But a court heard earlier this year how a man convicted of stealing the schoolboy's rucksack 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 33-year-old Daryl Paul was in possession of the boy's bag, laptop, books and coat.

At a previous High Court bail hearing, 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 Queen's 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.

She was questioned by police but released without charge. Paul was later sentenced over the theft and received a three-month prison term.

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

Said Fiona: "Why were the people present at this party where Daryl Paul is said to have Noah's belongings not questioned by police?

"There is a case of a girl who is missing in England that I have been reading about. Within two months of the investigation they questioned 4.000 people. I would be very interested to compare that to this investigation.

"They (police) haven't seized a lot of CCTV, there is massive blind spots in vital areas with no CCTV. We are now going out ourselves to ask for businesses for CCTV, when we are calling around businesses, we are asking them, did the police ever come and ask you for CCTV? They have done nothing. It's just disgusting."

Fiona also revealed how minutes before Noah was last seen, two potential witnesses were picked up on a CCTV camera passing him.

These individuals have never come forward to police.

"In the penultimate CCTV, there's a wee silver car which turns just as soon as Noah turns [onto Northwood Crescent] and there is somebody at the top of the CCTV that can be seen walking.

"Have they tracked these people down?

"On this street where there is no CCTV, we don't know how Noah's clothing was removed but there were people on that street. We don't know of something could have happened on that street.

"Someone walks into frame as the car passes him. No one knows about this because the police have not released this information. Why?

"I've seen that footage and my son was exhausted. Why was he exhausted?"

Fiona also revealed how the timings of when Noah was last seen has changed four times.

"I do also want to get the point of times across, first it was stated that Noah was last seen at 6.11pm that day.

"It was then changed to 6.08pm, 6.05pm, 6.03pm.

"The pathology report has it at 6.05pm, so four times they have changed it shortening the gap of anything happening. They have condensed that time."

"We handed 80 questions to police in August and they won't give us back written feedback. They also won't entertain any sectarian motive, but it has to be ruled out."

Fiona's sister Niamh added: "We would never have had any reason not to trust the police, ever.

"When we went into this, we would say, well the police are telling us this, it has to be right."

Said Fiona: "The majority of the public were probably like us, and they have to know, it is just not good enough. It could be your child.

"Our eyes are so wide open and its scary, so, so scary."


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